Depression and Lack of Appetite Affects More Than You Think
One of the most common symptoms of depression is a change in appetite. People who have depression either lose their appetite and eat less than they did before, or else their appetite increases and they eat more than they did before their depression started (Depression Symptoms: What Are Symptoms of Depression?). For me, my appetite has lessened but it's affected me a lot more than a simple reduction of hunger pangs. Depression and lack of appetite can be distressing.
A Depressed Brain is Still Part of Your Body
Depression affects my eating habits mostly by making me apathetic about food. Flavours feel dulled so I never really enjoy anything that I eat. I opt for really sour candy, ice cream or whatever seems tastiest. I fill up on junk food and then don't care about fruits and vegetables.
My physical health hasn't mattered at all to me because my emotional pain is front and center. Only after years of chronic pain am I starting to connect my mind with my body. One can't exist without the other, but I've been living as if my brain isn't a part of my body.
Part of the reason behind that is my history of trauma; my body has never been a safe place to reside. Posttraumatic stress disorder takes a huge toll on my depression as well.
Now that I'm trying to eat healthier, I'm realizing how many ways my depression affects my ability to stay nourished. For example, I struggle to go to the grocery store a lot of the time because it's overwhelming, too noisy, and requires too much decision-making.
Then, if I've managed to go to the grocery store, I rarely have the motivation to actually prepare a good meal for myself once I'm home.
My depression makes me unable to work and therefore I don't have much money. Spending money on food when I'm not even interested in food is a really difficult task.
I should be taking advantage of the local food bank since I qualify as someone in need of community help, but it's all the way across town. Taking the bus is overwhelming for me. It's all too much to think about.
Isolation is a huge part of my depression so I rarely cook for anyone but myself. Can you see how my depression affects eating in so many ways?
Help Depression Even With a Lack of Appetite
In choosing to eat healthier I'm struggling to find a way to make this work. Since I don't have a lot of money to spend and I often feel unmotivated to cook, I've been eating lots of frozen fruits and veggies. Sometimes I make smoothies, which are fast to drink, so even if I don't feel like eating I'm still getting my nutrients in.
I'm taking a multivitamin and consult a nutritional guide to make sure I'm covering as many food groups as possible.
Sometimes I think it's going to take my whole life before I figure out how to live well despite my depression. Taking care of myself is this foreign concept that I feel like I should have mastered while learning to tie my shoes.
Recognizing our areas of difficulty is the first step towards a healthier body and mind. One step at a time.
How does depression affect your appetite and ability to take care of your body's nourishment?
You can also find Erin Schulthies on Twitter, Google+, Facebook and her blog, Daisies and Bruises: The Art of Living with Depression.
Schulthies, E. (2015, January 29). Depression and Lack of Appetite Affects More Than You Think, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, September 23 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/copingwithdepression/2015/01/depression-and-lack-of-appetite
Author: Erin Schulthies
I'm so glad you wrote this I feel like I'm not alone everybody I have researched only talks about anorexia and not the people that struggle with depression but do not have body issues which I'm not sure that is involved but I just know that I don't have these issues but my anxiety and depression cause my stomach problems but it is all seen as a symptom and it should be its own classification
Yes, I am struggling with trying to keep weight on when the sight of food disgusts me ... I guess because I am depressed. I have had a slew of stomach problems before the depression really turned ugly, suicidal ideation big time. I wonder if it's a chicken or an egg thing. Stomach misery, doctors, surgeries, antibiotics turned into PTSD, anxiety, total melt down. I am sitting here drinking an Ensure Clear as the doctor suggested, going to get my second Ketamine infusion to take care of the depression. (If you don't know about it look into it. It really does do the job and hopefully will make those horrible pills a thing of the past). Yes, in Jesus'sweet name please heal us all.
Hey I am going through the same thing. Wake up stomach growling the thoughts of food is disgusting. The whole dang day same way. I get so tired of force feeding myself. I would like to be normal again. Had no warning just bam with the anxiety too. Plus I had accident in left eye and now there is no vision. Dont feel like doing anything going anywhere etc. Get tired of trying to function on a daily basis. Nothing to look forward too. Glad when bedtime comes at least I c a n sleep and not deal with the crazinest. Just how long does a person have to deal with this problem. Medication does not seem to be working. I think if I could get my appetite back it would be a start. I don't know how to do it. I go to gro store and have no idea of what to get because I can't imagine preparing a meal. So tired of this. I wish and pray that God would intervene and remove this problem for me on the mame of Jesus. I claim my healing in Jesus name. Amen
I’m going through the same thing but I don’t want to even make myself eat. It’s so hard. Why does life have to be hard. I didn’t even get any warning signs of this coming. I was great and then like a thief in the night the depression and the reality of not wanting to live anymore appears. I’m so glad to know I’m not alone. Thanks for this blog and sharing your stories. It means a lot not only to me but I’m sure others too.
I am going through exactly the same thing. Thank you so much for writing this. Makes me feel less alone.
I am going through the same challenges right now. I wake up every morning with gnawing hunger pains and when I get into the kitchen the thought of eggs or toast or pretty much anything makes me feel even more nauseous. This morning I tried to make some scrambled eggs and ate about three bites before I gave up in disgust. And then my stomach started growling again....and now I’m researching tips for good foods to eat when you feel like this. Maybe I’ll go try some yogurt. All I know is it really sucks and I will feel the same way when i wake up tomorrow morning and the next day and the next.....
yogurt the really small ones can be a good morning breakfast when you just need to put something into your body I also don't feel like eating a lot in the morning so I've been trying to eat yogurt and oatmeal
I so understand the eating issues that go hand in hand with depression. And I can see how it can be a 'symptom' that sometimes is not acknowledged as a crucial element to be addressed.
For me, when I'm depressed I slip into that place I call my 'anorexic thoughts'. I experience all your difficulties with eating that you refer to in your blog. The disinterest, the simple energy to eat. And for me, incredible nausea. (Which is likely brought on by not eating....)
In my case, it becomes a chronic 'thing'. It becomes a coping mechanism. It becomes a serious health problem and exacerbates failure of me getting any better mentally & physically.
Those 'anorexic thoughts': I am in such unbearable & constant emotional pain I feel a 'need' for that pain to be 'seen'...to be visible. So if I can manage to look physically sick...then it will feel more validating when those around me are desperate to help me. (I know, it sounds crazy...It's like my way of screaming 'help me' I think, sometimes.)
Another thought...and this is the one that can be dangerous... is that if I just continue to get smaller & smaller (by not eating) ...I'll just simply disappear. Suicide by starving, my doctor flatly stated to me as she looked me in the eyes. And I truly don't want to die. Not consciously.
I understand that the brain needs food. Needs to be fed. Needs nutrition. And if you starve it, it will actually make your thought patterns worse. Your depression worse. So I do try to eat. But then in my skewed thinking, eating becomes almost like a 'betrayal' to how I'm feeling. That if I start eating then I must be ok!!! But I'm sooooo not. So, I don't eat. How could I? (Crazy anorexic thoughts...)
So I force myself to eat. What I can. And the food I can eat...I make it have value. Nutritional value. I make a smoothie full of fruits & kale. With protein powder & a 'greens' nutrient powder & ground chia & flax. With coconut water. And then sip on it all day.
So...please do not underestimate the dangers of starving your body. More significantly in cases of depression...in your brain. Good for you for acknowledging this with the blog. You are honouring your body with great grace & gratitude. Maybe make a pledge to forcing yourself to make the journey to the food bank & to the grocery store for just one week to see if eating better helps your mood.
Because the more you 'starve' your brain...the more the possibility your thoughts become skewed and depressed. And you can find yourself not eating at all. It is a vicious and deadly cycle.
I wish you well.