Nutrition and mental health is an issue that is currently being addressed by nutritional psychiatrists. It appears that mental health affects phenomena that we were previously unaware of, with nutrition being one of them, which correlates with various mental disorders. Learn more about the relationship between nutrition and mental health!
Nutrition and mental health is a correlation that is being researched by the new discipline of nutritional psychiatry. The prevalence of mental disorders is increasing every year, and the reasons for this trend are varied. Currently, the COVID-19 pandemic, which has been ongoing since 2020, is largely responsible for the increased occurrence of various subjects of interest to psychiatry.
The statistics are merciless. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that by 2030, depressive disorders may be one of the most important health problems for humanity. For this reason, an increasing number of scientists are studying the factors and phenomena that contribute to the development of mental disorders. It appears that mental health problems are influenced by aspects that were not previously considered, such as nutrition. What is the connection between nutrition and mental health?
Nutrition and mental health: dependencies
Some relationships between nutrition and mental health are obvious. We refer to eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia. The main symptoms of these disorders include:
- Drastic reduction in food intake
- Binge eating accompanied by attempts to avoid weight gain, such as inducing vomiting
Depression is one of the most common mental disorders. It is usually associated with a depressive mood and loss of motivation.
For many years, it has been known that excessive body weight is a serious health problem worldwide. Overweight and obesity carry many different risks, not only for the circulatory system and musculoskeletal system, but also for mental health.
Patients with excessive body weight are often subjected to unpleasant comments about their appearance. Some of them handle it better than others. However, some people are not resilient enough to withstand criticism from their surroundings. This leads to a point where these people only want to be at home or give up social contacts. As a result, they also limit their physical activity, which can increase their excessive body weight. In addition, social isolation can be a factor that increases the risk of various mental disorders, including depressive disorder and anxiety disorder.
Diabetes is one of the complications of obesity. People with excessive body weight struggle with type 2 diabetes, and its occurrence can worsen mental disorders. In such cases, the risk of depressive disorders may increase.
Nutrition and Mental Health: How Can It Be Treated?
There is a clear correlation between nutrition and mental health, which can be confirmed by observations made in people treated for mental disorders. The use of psychotropic drugs is associated with side effects. Some antidepressants can cause loss of appetite and weight loss, while others can increase appetite, along with some antipsychotics, resulting in weight gain.
Doctors sometimes intentionally use the influence of psychotropic drugs on appetite. An example of this is patients with eating disorders who also suffer from sleep disorders or depressive disorders. In such situations, antidepressants are one form of help that improves mood and stimulates appetite.
Nutritional psychiatry as a developing discipline
Probiotics, prebiotics, and postbiotics are commonly known to patients. These products have the ability to influence the composition of gut microflora. Recently, there has been talk of psychobiotics, or specific probiotics, whose use in people with mental disorders can bring specific benefits.
There is a relationship between nutrition and mental health. Numerous observations show that people have incorrect dietary habits due to a fast-paced lifestyle or other problems. Therefore, a new branch of psychiatry – nutripsychiatry or nutritional psychiatry – is increasingly dynamically developing. Its interests include the direct correlation between nutrition and mental health, as well as the search for reasons why these dependencies are so important and clear.