Nutritional Deficiency and Depression: How are They Linked?

Life is a mixture of happy and sad moments. There are times when we feel extremely happy and exactly the opposite at other times. However, for most of us this is just a phase and we know both can co-exist in harmony. This, however, is not the case for people who are suffering from depression. Their feelings of worthlessness, guilt or sadness does not improve or go away. For them everyday life may seem miserable.

The World Health Organisation rates depression as the leading cause of disease burden amongst high-income countries. Also, about 450 million people suffer from mental and behavioural disorders worldwide. Studies reveal that 5 of the 10 leading causes of disability and premature death worldwide are psychiatric problems, including depression, alcohol use, schizophrenia, compulsive disorder. It is estimated that by 2020 neuropsychiatric conditions will account for 15% of disability worldwide.

How do you know you are depressed?

Mental health

Depression is a disorder associated with major symptoms such as increased sadness, anxiety, loss of appetite, depressed mood and loss of interest in pleasurable activities. There is no timely therapeutic intervention and this disorder can lead to varied consequences. Patients suffering from depression exhibit suicidal tendencies to a larger degree and are usually treated with anti-depressants or psychotherapy.

Anti-depressants become the quick-fix solution. People suffering from depression do not look beyond and do not consider nutritional deficiencies as one of the causes of depression. Yes, when we take a closer look at the diet of depressed people, an interesting observation is that their nutrition is far from adequate. They make poor food choices and select food that might actually contribute to depression. Recent evidence suggests that there’s a link between low levels of serotonin and suicide. It is implicated that lower levels of this neurotransmitter can lead to an overall insensitivity to future consequences, triggering risky impulsive or aggressive behaviours, which may cumulate in suicide.

How nutrition plays a key role

Balanced diet

Nutritional deficiency may be the cause of your depression. Depression is more typically thought of as strictly biochemical-based or emotionally rooted. Nutrition can play a key role in the onset as well as the severity or duration of depression.

Food patterns that precede depression include poor appetite, skipping meals, and a dominant desire for sweet foods. The most common mental disorders that are currently prevalent in numerous countries today are depression, bi-polar disorder, schizophrenia and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).

Research has revealed that nutrition and depression are undeniably linked. The most common nutritional deficiency seen in patients with mental disorders are:

Omega 3 fatty acid deficiency: 

Sources of Omega 3 fatty acids


Demographic studies indicate a link between high fish oil consumption and a low incidence of mental disorders. This lower incidence rate is directly a result of omega 3 fatty acid intake. So, people who include a lot of flax seed oi