Depression is a mood disorder that commonly affects adults but may present at any age. A number of studies are confirming the possibility of using the keto diet for depression and the alleviation of the condition’s symptoms.
Types and Causes of Depression
There are many different types of depression and severity may range drastically from person to person. While the exact cause of depression is unknown, the leading hypothesis is known as the Monoamine (or Catecholamine) Theory of Depression. This theory states that depression is caused by low serotonin (the hormone responsible for regulating mood) levels.
Depression: Is It More Than Just Feelings of Sadness?
To call general feelings of sadness depression is a common misnomer. In order for clinical depression to be diagnosed, an individual has to experience at least 5 of the following symptoms within a 2-week period:
- Depressed mood/feelings of sadness or hopelessness
- Decreased increased in tasks
- Disturbances in sleep or lack of sleep
- Fatigue or restlessness
- Difficulty concentrating or indecisiveness
- Thoughts of suicide (including planning or attempting to commit suicide)
Risk factors for depression include major life changes, traumatic/stressful events, a family history of mood disorders, mental illnesses, and certain medications. Common medications are known to cause depression include isotretinoin, oral contraceptives, statins, and beta-blockers.
Ketogenic Diet for Depression: Can it Help?
Current research suggests the ketogenic diet may improve mood and reduce symptoms of mood disorders due to both decreased levels of cerebral glucose and increased levels of the ketone body beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB).
Additionally, the ketogenic diet may help symptoms of depression due to its influence on neurotransmitter regulation. Ketone bodies promote the glutamate to GABA transition (converting the amino acid glutamate to the neurotransmitter GABA). The use of GABA as a potent mood stabilizer has been seen in recent research on depression and depressive-like disorders.
Case studies have shown significant improvements in individuals suffering from mental illnesses such as depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. Animal studies have also shown the ketogenic diet’s ability to reduce anxiety and depressive behaviors.
How Do I Learn More About the Ketogenic Diet for Depression?
For more information about the therapeutic benefits of a ketogenic diet for depression, check out the Depression Doctors Guide in Keto Club.