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Can Malnourishment Lead to Depression in Working Professionals?


How does calorie and nutritional intake affect your mental health and your career?

Is your busy schedule encouraging you to forego sleep and proper eating habits? Skimping on sleep and failing to get the nutrients you need to keep up with work and social requirements may get you ahead professionally, but the negative physical consequences will eventually outweigh the short-term benefits.

Malnourishment is defined as both too few calories and nutrients to support optimal body function as well as too many calories and too few nutrients. Either way, you’re not getting enough of the tools your body needs to keep things running smoothly, including adequately supporting mental health. If you are working hard to meet deadlines, keep up with the demands of your job, and keep food on the table, you absolutely must pay attention to how you are feeding your body in order to help avoid mental health issues such as depression.

We live in a society that requires 24/7 attention to work while we’ve produced low-cost food products that taste great but are sadly lacking in nutrients while remaining high in refined sugars and flours, salt, and dangerous types of fats. Failure to plan and prepare snacks and meals that are nutritious and that support your mental and physical well-being means that you could end up malnourished even if you are overweight. This leads to stress, inability to sleep, and even depression. It can also end up leading to chronic illnesses and other mental health issues.

All of this affects your ability to live a satisfying life and successfully fulfill your role at work and at home.

A few changes go a long way to helping you feel physically better as well as helping to stave off the type of depression that is triggered by malnutrition. A diet based on nutrient-dense foods and regular exercise will help you lose unneeded fat stores, boost your energy, and support healthy brain functioning. 

Here are some things you can do to help you perform your best at work and in other parts of your life:

  • Read books such as Eat to Live: the Amazing Nutrient-Rich Program for Fast and Sustained Weight Loss, by Joel Fuhrman, M.D., as well as other books detailing which foods will give you the right nutrients
  • Start including whole foods into your diet. Increase the amount of whole foods you eat as you develop new habits and try new recipes
  • Avoid sugar and refined flours found in processed foods
  • Spend a few minutes each week preparing portioned, healthful snacks and meals that you can take with you. This will help you avoid buying junk foods and overeating
  • Find places to fit exercise into your schedule: wear a pedometer and make a goal to walk 10,000 steps a day, take the stairs, join a gym, or walk or jog through your neighborhood

For those dealing with more severe chronic illnesses, eating disorders, ADD, ADHD, or other mental health disorders, it may be useful to read GAPS ™ Gut and Psychology Syndrome by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride. Following a GAPS diet can help to heal the gut in order to allow the body more efficiently break down and absorb nutrients from foods.

Depression is not something you should have to deal with alone. While getting the proper nutrients can greatly diminish some forms of depression, moderate or severe depression may require additional therapy or medications. If you or a loved one is not able to keep up with work or personal life because of depression, seek professional help now. Houston Behavioral Healthcare Hospital offers programs for adults (including working professionals) and adolescents. Visit our Homepage now to view our inpatient and outpatient services, or call us at (832) 834-7710 for a free and confidential assessment.