Diet for Depression: Foods that Cheer you Up

Diet for Depression: Foods that Cheer you Up
Bernardo Peña

Reviewed and approved by the psychologist Bernardo Peña.

Last update: 15 December, 2022

A diet that treats depression should include a combination of foods that are good for the nervous system and brain. Since there are many factors that can cause depression, certain nutrients are recommended to help control it.

In fact, there are certain kinds of foods that increase the production of serotonin and endorphins, which are better known as the happiness hormones. They cheer you up and reduces any symptoms related to this disorder.

Why is it so important to follow a diet that’s meant for depression? What foods should you eat? A lot of people might be unaware of the role that food plays in depression. So, you can read this article to find out about the most relevant aspects of this disorder and provide some suggestions that are good for choosing what food to eat.

Fighting depression with food

Depression is a public health problem that affects a large proportion of the world’s population. It’s characterized by a state of deep sadness, which can also increase feelings of irritability, hopelessness, and a loss of interest in life.

Woman bored with her food
This disease is becoming increasingly common because many people ignore the symptoms until they start to take effect on their quality of life. Some children and adolescents can even be affected, and they often have more difficulty coping with it.

There are many factors that are related to depression, and most of them are emotional. It can also be caused by environmental factors, hormonal changes, or living a sedentary lifestyle.

The treatment will vary from person to person, depending on how severely it affects their life. Regardless of that, some dietary changes are recommended, which focus on the intake of foods that promote mental stability. What are they?

A diet for depression will have all the characteristics of a balanced, complete diet. The big difference is that it also increases your consumption of certain nutrients that have antidepressant effects. Among them are:

  • Vitamin C: this is responsible for synthesizing neurotransmitters and reducing the effects of free radicals.
  • Folic acid: the so-called vitamin B9 helps increase your serotonin levels.
  • Tryptophan: is an essential amino acid that naturally relaxes you and helps create serotonin.
  • Phenylalanine: another type of amino acid that stimulates the secretion of endorphins.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids: maintain mental stability, improve concentration, and prevent depression.
  • Calcium and magnesium: also help produce your neurotransmitters.
  • Potassium: calms your nervous system, decreases irritability, and fights depression.

Read this article too: Fighting depression with yoga

Foods that improve your mood

Foods that contain nutrients that cheer you up can be added to any diet that’s meant for depression. While it’s not necessarily about using them as a basis for good nutrition, they’ll definitely help you control your symptoms.

Green leafy vegetables

Green leafy vegetables
Thanks to the high content of magnesium, green leafy vegetables help balance your nervous system. Therefore, they’re great for dealing with emotional disorders like anxiety and depression.


Nuts help promote well-being thanks to their omega-3 fatty acids, amino acids, and minerals such as potassium and magnesium.


The seeds and oil from flaxseed contain omega-3 fatty acids, which improve the health of your nervous system. Among other things, they alleviate inflammation and improve cardiovascular health.


Cacao, the main ingredient in dark chocolate, is one of the best foods in a diet that’s intended for depression. Amino acids help improve the production of serotonin, which is the neurotransmitter of happiness.


Rich in vitamin B12 and amino acids, eggs are one of the most complete foods in this diet. Nutrients help balance the activity of your nervous system and prevent anxiety and depression.

Other foods that fight depression

  • Chia and sunflower seeds
  • Avocados
  • Oranges
  • Plain yogurt
  • Lean meat
  • Fatty fish
  • Beans
  • Watercress
  • Whole grains

Foods to you shouldn’t eat

Unfortunately, when you suffer from depression you may have cravings to at unhealthy foods. These foods not only worsen your depression, but they also cause weight gain and other negative physical conditions. What are they?

  • Sausages
  • Refined sugars and their derivatives
  • Sodas and other soft drinks
  • Fried food and junk food
  • Alcohol
  • Excessive amounts of caffeine
  • Commercial pastries and baked goods
  • Fatty cheeses
  • Refined cereals

Check out this article too: Basil for fatigue and depression


Foods that improve cheer you up are allies when it comes to fighting depression. In order to get their medium and long-term benefits, you should include them into a complete and balanced diet.

It’s also important to use other methods to fight depression, because simple nutrition isn’t enough. A psychologist or professional care can determine what else you should do to complement your treatment.


All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • García, G. (2012). Alimentos que ayudan a prevenir y combatir enfermedades. Palibrio.
  • Márquez, M. O. (2016). Depresión y calidad de la dieta: Revisión bibliográfica. Archivos de medicina12(1), 6.
  • Roger, J. D. P. (2003). Salud por los alimentos. Editorial Safeliz.
  • San Molina, L., & Martí, B. A. (2010). Comprender la depresión. Editorial AMAT.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.