Can Apple a Day Help Keep Depression Away?

January 20, 2012 Jack Smith

An apple a day keeps the doctor away. So what does one do for depression? I’m not really sure, but there seems to be ample evidence of the importance of good nutrition in battling depression.
That’s not such good news for me, and I imagine others who suffer from depression feel the same way. It’s hard enough to make sure I take my various medications at the right time every day. Add the stress of balancing work and family—including three active kids who play sports year-round—and eating well ranks pretty low on the list.

Good Nutrition Key to Battling Depression

I never even considered the importance of good nutrition in battling depression until this summer during a vicious episode of Major Depression. I entered a partial hospitalization program, which meant I went to sessions during the day for talk therapy and education about depression. Good nutrition was a focal point of the program. That surprised me. But should it surprise us?

We all know that poor nutrition contributes to all sorts of physical ailments. But as a licensed nutritionist points out in this article, there is a connection between nutrition and depression, too. “Depression is more typically thought of as strictly emotional or biochemical,” the article points out. “Nutrition, however, can play a key role, both in the onset, severity and duration of depression, including daily mood swings.”

The gist of all this? Stuff we know isn’t good for us in excess—like caffeine, fatty foods and empty carbs—can make depression worse, make it last longer or both.36663-50380-414 Foods that we know we should eat but don’t eat enough of—like complex carbs, foods rich in folic acid, fruits and leafy greens—can help lessen the severity of depression.

I was sort of stunned to learn those foods actually have a direct impact on brain chemistry, including the production of serotonin. Pizza did not make the list. That’s not good news for me. My wife and I talk all the time about eating healthier, but it’s so much harder to actually do it. I work a lot, she works part-time.

Eat Well and Hydrate Too

I try to offer some suggestions and personal experience in this blog, so I’ll try to close with a few tips if you struggle as I do with good nutrition. Instead of grabbing a burger for lunch, try a fruit smoothie with a scoop of yogurt.

Instead of Sugar Smacks, Pop Tarts (or worse, nothing) for breakfast, try spreading peanut butter on a whole grain waffle. (My wife taught me that trick). As for getting the high number of fruits and vegetables each day that are recommended, good luck. I’ve never been able to do that.

Maybe the readers of this blog can respond with their own tips. I’d be curious to know if anyone takes vitamins to help battle depression. That’s something I’ve tried but never stuck with. Hydrating is also important, and that’s one easy. So drink plenty of water.

Now if I can only practice what I preach, maybe that next depressive episode is shorter and less severe.

APA Reference
Smith, J. (2012, January 20). Can Apple a Day Help Keep Depression Away?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 14 from

Author: Jack Smith

June, 7 2017 at 9:17 am

I cut up raw fruits and vegetables in bite-size chunks in the morning. I "segregate" them into two separate plastic containers. Somehow, I am more likely to eat them this way. Squirt a little lemon juice on the cut fruit to keep it from turning brown, also enhances the flavor. A little salt on the vegetables helps. I like to change up what I'm using for variety, but apples, pineapple, carrots, cucumbers, cauliflower, green pepper are some of my favorites. Buying plastic tubs of salad greens and broccoli sprouts makes putting a salad together easy.
I know that nutrition is hugely important for depression and anxiety -- and everything else -- if I make it easy, I'm more likely to do well. I don't say I will ban all sugar and caffeine -- I would fail at that! But I always eat the good stuff, and know that I am doing what I can. Yogurt and fermented vegetables (look in the refrigerated natural foods section) are also helpful in maintaining good health.
Good luck to all.

Mike f
March, 27 2013 at 4:04 pm

My therapist gave me a nutrition guide first visit,so I feel it is a huge part of living a healthy life physically and mentally..I thought I read one time that a good % of the serotonin is made/in your abdominal area??..I would have to research it again..
I love fruit but it is the harder route in this fast paced world so I do things like slice a apple or pineapple and use a vanilla yogurt to dip it in and I look forward to it every night after dinner.This also helps achieve the better 5 smaller meals apposed to 3 large which is a bad and hard habit to break..Well these are just my opinions..
GOOD LUCK!!..Anxiety and depression for over 20 years..I'm not a weak man just man enough to admit it

family counseling
May, 9 2012 at 4:16 pm

Fruits and veggies are said to really help depression, but it does get difficult to avoid eating the fatty favourites we all have. However, sacrifices must be made. These are good tips! Thank you for sharing your experiences.

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