The Sneaky Way Depression Is Affecting Your Diet

It is fortunate that public health messaging over recent years has greatly increased awareness of how difficult living with mental illness can be. Analysis from the CDC clearly shows it should no longer be considered shameful to experience a mental health issue, since more than 50% of Americans will be diagnosed with one at some point during their life. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America notes that major depression in particular affects 16.1 million adults.

Depression can tangibly affect one's daily routine, as research reported by Future Learn explains. Issues with sleeping, for example, affect 71% of young people with depression. Other problems, including lack of physical activity, poor concentration, and fatigue, are also associated with the illness.

One of the most significant symptoms of depression is a disruption of one's eating habits. Cleveland Clinic notes that depression can have an influence on appetite, but it's important to understand how exactly this can manifest and what to do to manage it.

Depression is commonly associated with changes in appetite

Multiple research studies have concluded that depression does influence eating habits. Priory notes it is common for people with depression to develop a loss of appetite, including frequently skipping meals. This can happen for a variety of reasons such as anxiety, lack of energy, and side effects from antidepressants.

Conversely, the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity also shows a link between depression and increased emotional eating (consuming food because of negative feelings) causing weight gain, particularly in younger people. A different report by Livestrong acknowledges that people with depression can also lose weight despite eating a lot, showing the complexities behind depression's effects on nutrition.

Lifehacker provides suggestions for snacks and meals that can be helpful for people living with depression. It advises that easy-to-prepare dishes including rice, eggs, and the ever-faithful mac and cheese are all suitable for cooking at home with minimal skill, equipment, or cost required, ensuring that even a simple diet can be varied and wholesome. If you're not feeling up to that, Lifehacker suggests ordering delivery that makes for good leftovers, like pizza.

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.