Skip to content

    Depression Health Center

    Font Size

    Eat Well to Improve Your Mood

    No diet can cure depression, and research hasn’t shown that a particular eating plan can erase the symptoms.

    But the food you put on your plate could have an indirect effect on your mood. To stay healthy and feel good, you need to get the right balance of nutrients, vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, and fiber.

    Recommended Related to Depression

    6 Common Depression Traps to Avoid

    When Orion Lyonesse is getting depressed, she turns into a hermit. She doesn't want to leave the house (not even to pick up the mail), and she cuts off contact with her friends and family. "The more I'm alone, the deeper the depression gets," Lyonesse, an artist and writer in Lake Stevens, Wash., tells WebMD in an email. "I don't even want to cuddle my cats!" Avoiding social contact is a common pattern you might notice when falling into depression. Some people skip activities they normally enjoy...

    Read the 6 Common Depression Traps to Avoid article > >

    Here's how to get started:

    • Choose a sensible plan. Watch your calories and fat. Eat lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. And yes, it’s OK to treat yourself from time to time.
    • Stay away from extreme fad diets. Avoid meal plans that radically restrict what you can eat. It’s a bad idea to cut out entire food groups, whether they’re carbs, fats, or sugars. While extreme diets may help you lose weight at first, they’re very hard to stick to in the long run, and usually they're not so healthy.
    • Get on a schedule. Eat at the same times each day to keep things predictable. It’s best to have three meals a day with two snacks in between. Don’t skip breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
    • Follow your doctor’s advice. If you have a health condition that changes what you can eat, you should stick to the rules your doctor or dietitian laid out for you. It's key to know what you can and can’t put on your plate.
    • Avoid alcohol and illegal drugs. They can cause depression and affect how well antidepressants or other medicines for mood work. Also, many people who are depressed battle substance abuse, too. If you think you have a problem, you need to get help. Addiction can keep you from recovering from your depression.
    • Cut back on caffeine. It’s a stimulant, which means it can make you anxious and keep you up at night. So limit how much soda, coffee, tea, and chocolate you have.
    • Ask your doctor about omega-3 fatty acids. Some research has shown that these fats can help with mood, but experts need to do more studies to know for sure. Some fish, walnuts, soybeans, flaxseed, and other foods have omega-3s, as do some supplements. Talk to your doctor or dietitian about how much of them you should get every day.
    • Tell your doc about changes in your appetite. Depression or its treatment can sometimes affect how hungry you feel. That can mean weight gain or loss. If you’ve noticed a change in your appetite, your doctor can help you get back on track.


    WebMD Medical Reference

    Reviewed by Joseph Goldberg, MD on December 14, 2015

    Today on WebMD

    Differences between feeling depressed and feeling blue.
    jk rowling
    Famous people who've struggled with persistent sadness.
    depressed man sitting on hallway floor
    Learn the truth about this serious illness.
    Sad woman looking out of the window
    Tips to stay the treatment course.
    unhappy teen boy
    Health Check
    jk rowling
    Pills with smiley faces
    Teen girl huddled outside house
    Depressed man sitting in hospital hallway
    antidepressants slideshow
    pill bottle
    Winding path