What to eat for winter depression?

Our diet has an impact on our well-being and also on our mood. Certain foods put us in a good mood, and sometimes this effect can be exploited to alleviate the symptoms of winter depression, for example.

The term winter depression is used by physicians to describe a disturbance in emotional life that only occurs during the darker months of the year. It usually begins in the fall and often lasts until spring. People who fall into winter depression often show the same symptoms: they are listless and listless, have an increased need for sleep and an increased appetite, which is characterized by a great desire for sweet foods.

Giving in to these cravings is tempting, but not only can it lead to unwanted weight gain, it can also increase the risk of ongoing depression. To prevent this and still do something good for yourself and your body, your diet should include healthy foods that also have a positive effect on the psyche. These include, above all, foods with ingredients that boost the production of the so-called "happiness hormones" such as dopamine and serotonin.

5 Foods to combat winter depression

Studies show that an improved diet with the targeted selection of healthy foods can have a positive effect on the symptoms of depression [1].

Ernährung bei Winterdepression

1. tuna fish

Tuna contains a large amount of tryptophan. The amino acid is a precursor of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which is involved in the regulation of mood, among other things. Even though the connection between serotonin and depressive symptoms has not yet been definitively researched [2], it may be beneficial to eat foods that can increase serotonin levels.

2. flaxseed

Flaxseed contains many omega-3 fatty acids. These seem to be very effective in treating depressive symptoms, as shown by some scientific studies [3]. However, it is still unclear how exactly the effect occurs, and more research is needed.

3. yogurt

Yogurt and other probiotic foods can alleviate depressive symptoms, especially in younger people under 60 years of age [4], possibly they can also help with winter depression.

4. Brazil nuts

Brazil nuts contain high levels of selenium. The trace element seems to be related to our mood, as low intake of selenium is associated with lower mood according to studies [5].

Lebensmittel bei Winterdepression

5. whole grain products

Whole grain products are healthy for many reasons. Among other things, they contain a lot of zinc, which not only strengthens the immune system, but can also have a positive effect on depressive symptoms. For example, studies show that depression appears to be associated with low zinc levels and that zinc intake can enhance the effectiveness of antidepressants [6]. In addition, whole grain products also contain folic acid, which has also been associated with reduced depression symptoms [7].


For winter depression, a healthy diet can help improve mood. These include foods containing the serotonin precursor tryptophan (e.g., tuna), as well as foods high in omega-3 fatty acids (e.g., flaxseed), foods containing selenium (e.g., Brazil nuts), probiotic foods, and whole grains.


[1] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28137247/
[2] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26043325/
[3] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28664119/
[5] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12509066/
[6] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16491668/
[7] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17353937/