Are nutrition and depression related? Can diet depression be prevented?
Is dietary depression a new phenomenon in psychology?
This is most likely a new term. And the phenomenon is old. Just these days, the relationship between diet and depression has been identified and proven.
But here is a case from my practice fifteen years ago. Teenage girl. Impulsive, emotionally vulnerable, with bright and strongly expressed desires. And overweight – 84 kilograms. On the advice of doctors, the girl is put on a carbohydrate-free diet – without bread, potatoes and sweets.
Three months later, she lost ten pounds. But at the same time she began to get tired of the minimal physical activity. I could not study in the tenth grade – distracted attention, inability to force myself to engage. Plus – vulnerability, tearfulness, low mood. And even statements like “I do not want to live.”
As a result – a confirmed diagnosis of depression. Weight, by the way, came back very quickly. It was not time for a diet – the girl had to be taken out of a severe depressive state.
Is the lack of sweets and bread in the diet capable of delivering such a blow to the psyche?
First, carbohydrate exclusion is just the tip of the iceberg. Certain nutrients obtained with a particular food, trigger a lot of processes in the human body. If a group of products is taken and removed from the “daily life”, these processes either change or completely stop.
Dietary depression at this “biochemical” level occurs. After all, a sufficient amount of serotonin ceases to be produced. And dopamine. That is, hormones of joy and good mood. The result is at first just a depressed and tearful state. And there – close to depression.
Secondly, if we are talking about adolescents, then many of them restrictive diets are contraindicated in principle. Especially if the child is impulsive, emotionally unstable.
At a young age, it is very difficult to cope with dietary restrictions solely by volitional efforts. Because the parts of the brain responsible for the will have not yet “grown.” And any prohibition does not last long – a breakdown will necessarily follow.
And what are the main causes of dietary depression in adults?
Imagine your body is stressed out. Diet. Control and volitional efforts. Since the main sources of sweets for mood are banned, where will he “scoop” his sweets in a constant mode? Right out of nowhere. And then he gives an alarm. “Escaping” depression from a condition in which it is difficult to live fully.
There are certain personality traits that can also trigger depression. Say an increased degree of neuroticism. When an adult is very unbalanced, psychologically unstable. A diet can “unbalance” it even more. And as a result, there will be signs of depression.
Excessive perfectionism can also be called a risk factor. Oddly enough, in the matter of losing weight, this can pretty much hinder. Because where other people will forgive themselves for the extra cookies or the wrong candy, the perfectionist will be harassed that he could not, “did not pull.” And in this state it can easily “slide” into depression.
Full people are even more difficult. Especially women. They already live in constant anxiety because of their weight. That is, the body is already on the verge of stress – and they also put it on a diet. Vicious circle.
It is often recommended to replace food with shopping or other pleasures. Will it prevent depression?
Of course, you can buy yourself new clothes instead of a cake. But if that helps, it’s not essential. Short term. This is an additional load on the control system of the brain.
The woman is losing weight. The body is deprived of the usual food. It changes the biochemical processes. Well-being is getting worse.
A similar situation with the psyche. You must keep yourself within the diet. The psyche is tense. Are you trying to translate it into an interest in shopping, preening or walking. For a while, this can, of course, be distracted. But only for a while.
Are more women affected by dietary depression? Or do men suffer too?
Women generally suffer from depression two to three times more often than men. In addition, representatives of different sexes actually have a very different attitude to their own weight.
We conducted family-based studies on eating behavior. So, in men, guilt after overeating or improper eating occurs only in 4 percent of cases. And for women – at 20. This is despite the fact that the body mass index of 75 percent of the men we surveyed is above the norm. And for women, this figure is much lower – only 50 percent.
Simply put, men worry about overeating and weight almost five times less likely than women. Accordingly, dietary depression also occurs less frequently in them.
By what signs can a person suggest dietary depression?
The first “sign” is, in fact, your reaction to the diet.
And then – the “classic of the genre.” Lethargy, apathy, increased tearfulness. Bad mood, irritability. Reluctance, and sometimes the inability to work or study. Fatigue, sleep disturbance. Stomach and intestinal problems. The main “symptom” – life does not bring joy and pleasure. And a person gradually plunges into the “cocoon” of depression, goes into himself.
How can you lose weight but not be depressed?
Depression is not a mandatory companion of weight loss. We are all different. There are people whose genotype is initially more adapted to stress. And they are unlikely to encounter depressive symptoms.
In some cases, the format of weight loss can provoke depression. I mean group psychological trainings on weight loss. For people who adapt to stress faster and easier, such therapy is warranted. But those who are struggling to adapt to new conditions, difficulties, with this approach to losing weight suffer more. Their weight decreases more slowly. And instead of reaching for a group, a person, on the contrary, “slows down”. Gradually falling into a depressed state.
And therefore, the main advice – for the “prevention” of dietary depression, you need to lose weight consciously. Ideally, under the supervision of a specialist. Perhaps not just one.
Say a nutritionist who will work on your diet and body. Nutritionist who will tell you what additives to enter in the menu. And a therapist who tracks your emotions and psychological reactions.
But such an ideal is hardly achievable. But to realize the problem is achievable completely. Before starting to lose weight, go through a medical examination. Learn and weigh not only the advantages of possible harmony, but also the risks.
Listen carefully to yourself, your body, your body. If you’re constantly ill from the most wonderful power system, think about whether it’s yours.
As a rule, successful weight loss without depression is the result of an informed choice. When you understand all the cons that await along the way. If there is understanding, there are ways to minimize the negative. And successfully lose weight, while not “slipping” into depression.