Community Blog

How Diet Can Help Fight Depression in Seniors

By Ketan Shah

If you are responsible for the elderly care of an aging loved one, you might have noticed that they are experiencing some symptoms of depression. Depression is a concern for the elderly, both because their brains are changing, and because they are entering a new phase in their lives. Some depression can be very serious, and lead to lethargy, moodiness, and other worse behavior.

There are, however, some ways that you can help. Aside from physical exercise and talking to you or a therapist regularly, diet has also been shown to help manage depression in seniors. Here are some of the best foods for helping to fight this condition:

  • Broccoli – Broccoli is a part of a healthy, balanced diet for anyone. It is especially helpful for those who are suffering from depression, however, because it has many ingredients that keep the brain healthy. Some of these things include antioxidants and Vitamin C, which can help to prevent damage to the brain caused by aging.
  • Carbohydrates – Not just any carbohydrates, mind you – smart carbohydrates. Smart carbs are carbs that are found in foods like whole grains. As opposed to the carbs in cakes or sugary snacks, these carbs work with your body to increase serotonin, a hormone that makes you feel more relaxed and at peace.
  • Protein – Protein has been shown to improve alertness and to raise energy levels. While depression normally makes you feel listless and unenergetic, eating proteins like milk, cheese, yogurt, beans, fish, chicken, or poultry can make you feel lighter and more energized. Eating protein is also a good follow-up to physical exercise, which is also essential for improving mood.
  • Foods with Selenium – Selenium is a mineral, and low levels of it in the body have been linked to depression. To increase the level of selenium in the body, try eating more foods like nuts and seeds, beans, lean meats, sea food, and whole grains. Be careful, though: studies have shown that taking in selenium via dietary supplements can lead to an overabundance of selenium in the body, which can be dangerous. Getting selenium from the foods you eat, though, should not be a problem.
  • B vitamins – B vitamins can be found in many fruits, vegetables, nuts, and lean and low-fat meat and fish. Low levels of B vitamins have been proven to be linked to depression and other disorders, so getting more of these vitamins should help to greatly improve mood and disposition.

Keep in mind, though, that while these foods have been shown to help depression in seniors, they are only one part of a treatment plan. Your aging loved one should also engage in regular physical activity such as exercise, yoga, or taking walks, and should try to identify the cause of their depression.

Some depression is caused by medications or medical conditions, and you should talk to your doctor to find the right course of treatment for your loved one. If the depression is caused by a life change or something of that nature, though, changing their diet could go a long way in helping
them to feel better.


If you or an aging loved one are considering hiring elderly care in Los Gatos, CA, please contact the caring staff at Home Helpers today (408) 259-5930.