Meals to Support Mental Health
Your mental health is as important as your physical health.
Feeling sad and low at times is normal. However, for people suffering from mental health conditions, such as anxiety and depression, the effects are much more severe. According to the World Health Organization, more than 264 million people of all ages suffer from depression globally. The number is increasing every year, especially during and post-pandemic.
Experts projected a tsunami of psychiatric illness in the aftermath of COVID-19. It is due to the prolonged social isolation that can lead to social withdrawal. Social and economic factors may further aggravate these psychiatric disorders, potentially leading to suicide. Consequently, 800,000 people die from suicide every year. It is the second leading cause of death of people aged 15 to 29 years old.
These numbers are more than just figures. Indeed, there is a need for improved and inclusive mental health care worldwide. For instance, 85% of low and middle-income countries are not receiving proper treatments at all. It is due to limited resources and well-trained health care providers. Similarly, the social stigma correlated to mental health is at play.
This article will further explain anxiety and depression. It will also provide natural foods that can support mental health.
Differences Between Anxiety And Depression
Self-diagnosing is dangerous and not advisable at all. All emotions are valid. However, people commonly interchange stress, anxiety, and depression. It is still necessary to consult experts, especially if you experience symptoms that derail your day-to-day activities. As support, below are other symptoms to look out for:
This emotion usually occurs when you are in a threatening or demanding situation. Your way of life also affects the amount of pressure you experience. Small amounts of stress can be beneficial, for example stress may push you to fulfill a task or avoid situations that might endanger you.
It usually starts when the hypothalamus sends signals to your nervous system, including the kidneys. Stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol are released right after. Studies have shown that women appear more stressed than men. Here, patriarchy is at play because most men are trapped in the belief that they need to be self-reliant and stiff all the time. Society has conditioned them that it is unmanly to cry, get hurt, and express what they feel.
Further, stress has two kinds: acute stress, which more likely does not cause any health complications and typically goes away when the stressors disappear; and chronic stress that can bear inflammatory and chronic health conditions. It can also lead to anxiety and depression. Other impacts of acute stress are headaches, high blood pressure, heart palpitations, skin rashes, loss of sleep, and chest pain.
Anxiety is a feeling of fear about the future. Sometimes, it is also an implication of too much stress. It is normal to be anxious, and it happens when the emotional brain overpowers the cognitive brain. Ordinary anxieties are feelings that usually come and go. However, if it starts to interfere with your daily life, it may fall into an anxiety disorder. There are different types of anxiety disorders, and it might be challenging to diagnose in one sitting. It requires a long process of physical examinations, mental health evaluations, and psychological questionnaires.
The usual effects of anxiety can include rapid breathing, increased heart rate, restlessness, trouble concentrating, and difficulty falling asleep. In contrast, anxiety disorders include jitteriness, irritability, feelings of fear, isolation, shame, and sleeplessness. Additionally, studies have shown that if you have an anxiety disorder, you may also experience depression. This may be because anxiety is also a symptom of clinical or major depression.
It is the 4th most significant cause of suffering besides chronic disease and cancer worldwide. It affects everything in your life, including your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. But apart from its mood implications, studies have shown that adults aged 55 to 85 suffering from depression without any other chronic conditions can quadruple the risk for heart disease. Symptoms of depression include discouragement, hopelessness, anger, sadness, low energy level, lack of motivation, and insomnia.
Meals To Increase Serotonin
Science believes that serotonin deficiency affects mental health conditions. There are natural ways to help you balance brain chemistry. For instance, a lifestyle shift which includes consumption of foods that support brain health. Below are some recipes from a nutritional psychiatrist to help you get started.
Meal #1: Frozen Fish With Leafy Greens
Foods that are rich in omega-3 are essential for the heart and brain. Nutritionists suggest including salmon, sardines, and tuna as part of depression meals. This recipe is easy to make because frozen and dried fish do not require manual cleaning. Adding green leafy vegetables that are high in magnesium is also advisable. Magnesium-rich ingredients provide calming properties that are helpful for people with anxiety and depression.
Meal #2: Peanut Butter On Whole Wheat Toast
Oatmeal is essential in providing healthy fats and protein to stabilize blood sugar. It is also easy to prepare. Additionally, nuts and seeds are also time-friendly, especially for people who work around the clock. It is also easy to prepare as it does not require any cooking at all. You can mix them as they are or consume the nuts in a peanut butter form and spread them on your whole-wheat toast.
Meal #3: Miso Soup
Miso soup is a fermented food that is rich in protein and probiotics. It also provides essential vitamins such as folic acid, vitamins B, E, and K, which are beneficial to keep the good bacteria in your gut vibrant and healthy. Good gut health is known to boost your physical and mental wellbeing.
Create A Routine And Stick To It
Indeed, consuming a healthy and balanced diet, such as the abovementioned depression meals, can hugely impact mental health. Additionally, nutritionists believe that creating a routine, regardless if it is as minimal as making your bed and eating your food on time, is vital. If you can push yourself more, physical activities are also essential to improve your mental health.
There is a list of activities to help you boost your mood and improve your sleep. Exercising during times when your energy is high can be a good start to feel better. Again, you may start when you are ready, and as always, help is here. Do not think twice to seek professional help.