Dear East Texas friends: In my opinion, this is one of THE MOST underrated causes of depression.

**This is not meant to be taken as medical advice and is a personal experience. If you are feeling depressed, please reach out to a therapist or a medical provider.**

Honestly, I've struggled with a tendency toward melancholy throughout the years.

It runs in my family and it's something I'm always seeking to manage. Although I wouldn't say it's full-blown depression, I know how it feels to fight the "darkness." Perhaps you can relate.

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And what makes going through depressive episodes even worse is the tendency to a downward spiral into all kinds of unhealthy behaviors. For example, eating. When you're feeling sad, it's tempting to want to "eat those feelings" and typically that doesn't involve the healthiest food choices.

I would find myself eating all kinds of junk that only ever made me feel worse. Until I finally had enough...

In an effort to improve my general outlook, I've noticed that the times I'm focusing on getting a bit of exercise and eating a primarily healthful diet made up of primarily whole foods, my mood, and mental state seem greatly improved. Like GREATLY. Did I say 'greatly?' Cuz it was.

That being said, I'd not come upon any conclusive studies revealing a direct correlation between improving mental health and diet--yet.

For years now, we've known that getting even a moderate amount of exercise can ease some of the symptoms of depression.

Also, researchers have known that a diet that primarily consists of junk food can negatively affect your mental health. However, until recently, despite what some have claimed for years, there was no conclusive evidence linking that eating a healthier diet can have positive effects on our mood and perhaps even aid in lifting depression symptoms.

An article from Treehugger writer, Sean Winters, tells us that "Dr. Joseph Firth, at The University of Manchester, and colleagues found that 'existing research has been unable to definitively establish if a dietary improvement could benefit mental health.'"

They decided in earnest to delve into and research the hypothesis of whether or not a more nutritious, health-focused diet could have an effect on depression and anxiety symptoms.

So, they began doing many randomized clinical trials involving an intervention in the diets of their 45,000 subjects and found some encouraging results.

Whether the diets were focused on weight loss or increasing the level of nutrient density in these diets, positive changes and benefits were measured in regard to easing the symptoms of depression.

Although, generally speaking, anxiety symptoms weren't shown to be conclusively affected, there were indicators that showed that more study is warranted, as there seemed to be some improvement, particularly with the female participants.

You can read more in the full study from the Psychosomatic Medicine journal here.

In case we needed one more reason to focus on healthier eating, here it is.

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