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Depression and Eating: Is It Related to Eating Disorders?

Depression and Eating: Is It Related to Eating Disorders?


Eating disorders are most often based on the existence of psychological problems. In this sense, it is normal to establish a link between diet, this type of disorders and the state of mental health.

Today, we explore how food can actually impact mental balance and, in particular, how it can inhibit or potentiate a clinical picture of depression. It is important to emphasize that, however, food alone is not the only way to prevent depression. It is not a cure either, but, as in many other situations, it is a means of increasing the general quality of life and thus enhancing greater physical or psychological well-being.

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The quality of food

Yes, the quality of food is essential for the treatment of any depression and other mental disorders. Nutritional deficiencies can contribute to a greater likelihood of developing mental disorders. Nutritional neuroscience has been increasingly clarifying that nutritional factors are truly related to human thoughts, behaviors and emotions.

A feature that has been observed in the diets of patients who have mental disorders has been the deficit of essential vitamins, minerals and fatty acids such as omega-3. In turn, from the food groups that were studied, it was noted that a diet richer in sugars and meats can potentiate the development of mental disorders.

Some studies have indicated that daily supplements of essential nutrients (such as amino acids) are often effective in reducing the symptoms of patients with mental disorders. However, it is important to emphasize that this supplementation should only be analyzed and prescribed by qualified health professionals.

Balanced diet
A balanced diet doesn't necessarily need to eliminate all sugars, but it does need to focus more on natural foods that have more vitamins and are beneficial to the mind © Dan Gold/Unsplash

A diet rich in sugars, for example, will lead to a normal weight gain which, in turn, can lead to problems with self-esteem and relationships with others. These issues are often precursors to developing anorexia, bulimia nervosa or other eating disorders. Thus, it is important to educate from an early age for a balanced and varied diet.

Can food really fight depression?

Reflect with us. Have you ever felt down and only craved less healthy foods (e.g. sweets, fast food, processed foods, etc)? Every human being has been through this and can understand that it is precisely when we are at our lowest or in moments of greater imbalance in our lives that we tend to look for a less healthy diet. In turn, when we are better with ourselves, we tend to have greater control over our food choices and opt for healthier eating.

Some studies have even observed that a healthy diet may be associated with a lower risk of developing depression. However, we cannot say that there is a miracle diet or specific foods that contribute to fighting depression. However, some eating plans or even foods can provide relief from certain symptoms, improving mood, for example. So a healthy diet can help as a part of the overall treatment.

Balanced Diet Juice
© Nature Zen/Unsplash

Following a balanced diet is the first step towards a more balanced mental health. The intake of foods that help the human body (which is not the case of excess sugars, for example), will lead to discouragement and loss of energy can no longer be a problem and, therefore, prevents the tendency to avoid everyday tasks or relationships with others in social settings.

How does eating disorder potentiate depression?

Although a diagnosis of an eating disorder, whether anorexia, bulimia, binge eating, among others, is not necessarily indicative of depression, it is known that this can be one of the consequences.

Depression Eating Disorder
© Annie Spratt/Unsplash

An eating disorder can be a trigger for depression by the way it affects the person concerned. That is, someone dealing with eating problems will, for example, protect themselves more to avoid negative comments about themselves. At the same time, an individual with an eating disorder often has an image of himself that does not necessarily correspond to reality. Consequently, these kinds of actions will make isolation become real and depression can start to set in because of the belief that no one understands your situation.

When there is depression and eating disorder, what to do?

The key to treating an eating disorder concomitant with depression is to recognize in the first instance that neither is more or less important and that both must be treated simultaneously. However, there is an important factor to be aware of. If the physical impact related to the eating disorder is extremely severe, to the point of being medically unstable, the patient should first be admitted for medical stabilization.

After medical stabilization, and being two different diagnoses, treatment must be thought of together. If we think of the two diseases together, we realize that depression is characterized by the absence of pleasure, well-being and lack of energy and recurrent tiredness, and that this can be fought many times with food. But if the diet is also deficient, which is the case with any eating disorder, it is normal for the body to react negatively to its surroundings.

© Timur Weber/Pexels

For these reasons, the existence of depression and an eating disorder at the same time, is again a reason for the treatment to be always carried out with a multidisciplinary team. At VillaRamadas, our treatments always take this aspect into consideration. The path to treatment is real as long as it works together and in several aspects.


If you know someone who is struggling with depression and/or an eating disorder, don’t hesitate to encourage them to seek help. Talk to us to find out how we can help, and help anyone who needs an extra push to change their lives.


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