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Depression Health Center

Foods to Help You Feel Better

6 ways to add mood-boosting foods to your diet.
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4. Eat fish several times a week.

Several recent studies have suggested that men and women have a lower risk of having symptoms of depression if they eat a lot of fish, particularly fatty fish like salmon, which is high in omega-3 fatty acids.

Omega-3s from fish seem to have positive effects on clinically defined mood swings such as postpartum depression, says Jay Whelan, PhD, head of the department of nutrition at the University of Tennessee.

Good sources of omega-3 fatty acids include:

  • Herring
  • Rainbow trout
  • Salmon
  • Sardines
  • Tuna

 

5. Get a daily dose of vitamin D.

Does a little time in the sun seem to make you feel better? The sun’s rays allow our bodies to synthesize and regulate vitamin D. 

Four recent studies showed an association between low serum levels of vitamin D and higher incidences of four mood disorders: PMS, seasonal affective disorder, nonspecified mood disorder, and major depressive disorder.

Researcher Pamela K. Murphy, PhD, at the Medical University of South Carolina says people can help manage their moods by getting at least 1,000 to 2,000 IU of vitamin D a day.

That’s significantly more than the Institute of Medicine’s Recommended Dietary Allowance for vitamin D, which is 600 IU daily for ages 1 to 70, and 800 IU for people over 70.

Very few foods naturally contain vitamin D. So she recommends we get vitamin D from a variety of sources: short periods of sun exposure, vitamin D supplements, and foods.

Vitamin D can be found in:

  • Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel
  • Beef liver
  • Cheese
  • Egg yolks

But our primary source of dietary vitamin D is fortified foods, such as breakfast cereals, breads, juices, and milk.

6. Treat Yourself to 1 oz of Chocolate

“Small amounts of dark chocolate can be a physical upper,” says Becker at Johns Hopkins. “Dark chocolate has an effect on the levels of brain endorphins,” those feel-good chemicals that our bodies produce. Not only that, but dark chocolate also seems to have a heart-healthy anti-clogging effect in our blood vessels.

In one study from the Netherlands, Dutch men who ate 1/3 of a chocolate bar each day had lower levels of blood pressure and lower rates of heart disease. The chocolate also boosted their general sense of well-being.

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