Depression, Chronic Stress & Diet


I’ve been pondering my history of depression. Viewing it objectively from a safe distance of many years is quite interesting, and nourishing – that may read weird, but it’s true.

This is not a post about my mental health history or its deep effect on my life, but to give you an idea of scope – I was severely clinically depressed from 19 – early 30s, with a particularly bad era between 21-25. Medicated over most of those years – a few different anti-depressants, mostly SSRI’s. Multiple therapists, psychologists, one psychiatrist.

Outside of meds and therapy, there was no intel on how to mitigate it. Not that I was motivated to at the time – but it might have helped on the better days to know about diet, exercise, self-compassion, inner work etc, these (and others) are things I know and use now to stay mentally fit. All the naturopathic things.

Root Cause

It’s well understood that a root cause of disease is chronic (long term) stress – whether due to lifestyle/job/toxins/diet/abuse/trauma – the result is inflammation (imagine a fire in the body) causing dysregulation of body systems.

Often, people tend towards certain strengths and weaknesses. Just as some of us are athletic, some artistic, and some great problem solvers, we can tend towards disease states eg. thyroid disease, auto-immune disease, high blood pressure. These things can run in families.

When chronic stress is layered over the top of the tendency, the conditions are ripe for disease.

I often prescribe carefully selected supplements to help nudge clients in the right direction, especially for stress. Herbs are brilliant for stress.

Anti-inflammatory diet

If you’re stressed, choosing an anti-inflammatory diet will help calm the fire (inflammation). My nutrition plans are based on the Mediterranean diet – rich in healthy fats (healthy means anti-inflammatory), colourful fruit/veg (skin on), fibre, complex carbs, lean protein, and pure water.

I fully notice when not consuming enough of these foods, if I eat poorly for long enough, the (mild) depression creeps back.

The brilliant thing is that eating well changes everything.

I also take a practitioner grade omega-3 most days, which definitely helps. Omega-3 is a healthy (anti-inflammatory) fat, used in the brain to make white matter (among other things). Studies have shown that taking an omega-3 supplement alongside antidepressant meds improved depression symptoms significantly more than just meds by themselves. DOI 10.3390/jpm13020224

*Key takeaway: anti-inflammatory foods are the game changer for your long-term physical and mental health. For more info on the Med diet info check out this article…/mediterranean-diet-meal-plan

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