The ever increasing digital dependences including binge-watching, and around-the-clock smartphone use, has caused a prominence in loneliness and depression. With a crippling economy and rampant inflation, it makes sense that digital media is indeed an escape. But at what point does it cease to be just that?
The major surveys tell us that:
- 23% of women in the age brackets of 40-69 are on antidepressants
- Antidepressants are the most commonly prescribed medication for Americans between the ages of 18-44
- 11% of all Americans over the age of 12 are taking antidepressants
It isn’t just the digital screens that can take the blame; our unhealthy diets comprising of fast foods, carbonated drinks and gallons of coffee do very little to spell out ‘healthy’. We are what we eat.
Some eat their troubles away, but they manage to do so only for a short time. In a way, they are trying to numb the constant screaming of anger, stress and depression making a storm between their ears. These foods, which are primarily sugars and fats, trigger pathways that are involved with feeling good and happy- dopamine and serotonin. Much like how a junkie gains temporary relief from worldly reminders of pain, a serial eater or an obese person feels a sense of refuge—but for mere minutes.
Let us flip the script around: What if depression is not the one causing us to eat bad foods and make terrible lifestyle choices. What if bad foods and lifestyle choices are the sole reason for perpetuating depression?
In a study of older adults without depression, they followed plant-based recipes for over 7 years. Mediterranean diets are great examples of a healthy plant-based diet that have more fruits, whole grains, legumes, vegetables, olive oil and fish and fewer animal meats (chicken, beef, pork, lamb) and high-fat dairy—a study in Spain showed that those who are tethered to such a diet were less likely to have depression.
A recent study involving a 2-week pilot study found that omnivores who avoided fish and other meats over the course of 2 weeks had better moods and lowered stress levels.
Mental illnesses may drive unhealthy lifestyle choices, but keep in mind that it is the bad food choices that drive the mental illnesses to worse off places. You may “eat your feelings” away, but don’t forget what you are “feeling when you eat”.
Take your shot at eating plant-based foods. The thing here to gain is your good mental and physical health. What do you have to lose? Nothing.