Does sugar make depression & anxiety worse ?


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      Many people crave sweets when they're sad or anxious. I've heard lots of people say things like "I was so sad I ate a huge piece of cake with a scoop of ice cream," or "I'm so nervous, I need some chocolate." But do sugary sweets really make people better or calmer? Although it may seem so, there are studies that show sugar can actually make anxiety and depression worse.
      According to this page, processed sugars can easily and quickly be absorbed into our bodies, causing our blood inuslin level to rise; this then raises the endorphin level, and since endorphin is a "mood upper," people feel happier and/or calmer after consuming sugars. However, if you continue to take in lots of sugars, the brain's endorphine sites "slow production or close sites to regulate the amount of endorphines in the brain." When the available amount of endorphines in the body decreases, it can cause slight to severe depression. Anotehr site says that suagr gives your blood gloucose level sudden ups and downs, which can cause fatigue, irritability, insomnia, poor concentration, depression, and anxiety, etc.
      Our bodies are naturally provided with a "massive dose of sugar" that helps keep blood sugar stabilized. Insulin in our bodies act as a "downer," neutralizing the sugar. When the initial effects (happy, calm, etc.) of sugar wear of, the effect of insulin stays, causing a negative mood swing (since insulin is a "downer.") - the lack of endorphines in the brain, plus insulin's effect, can result in depression and anxiety. An individual then might eat more sugars to feel better, this results in a "vicious cycle of addiction."
      Next time when you're sad or nervous, consider the negative effects that sugar might cause, and remember not to comsume too much sugar becuase it might make things worse.
     

6 Comments

As a chocolate lover, I definitely did not want to believe the statistics in this article. But after doing some research, I found a lot of other articles that also claim that consuming too much sugar or eating it out of emotions can lead to these depressive mood swings. Here is a really interesting article that shows food triggers to anxiety, and Sugar is #2!! The article and your blog post definitely made me aware of some things that I should avoid when trying to settle my nerves!

I think when people crave for chocolate or anything sweet in the situations when they are nervous, or however it is mentioned above, it helps giving them their confidence or whatever it is they are looking for at that time, but eventually over time it is nothing but harmful for the body.

I find it very interesting that we continue to see "folklore", for lack of a better word, like this proven by science. We have, for the longest time, taken sugary sweets as something that makes us happy, that lifts our mood as it were, and here we see scientific tests proving the validity of the non-science based statement.

Personally, when I am stressed out and I eat a piece of chocolate or a sweet I feel better. I think it is mostly a mental thing, though. It is not the chemical make-up of the piece of chocolate that makes me feel better. It is the yummy taste in my mouth that allows me to enjoy myself for a minute and relax from my work. It makes me happy and that is a stress reliever in itself. According to this article, "Researchers from the University of Cincinnati (UC) have found that eating or drinking sweets may decrease the production of the stress-related hormone glucocorticoid--which has been linked to obesity and decreased immune response."

Very interesting post Eugenia. I too have family members and close friends who believe that processe3d sugar foods will help take away their anxiety and depression.

Healthier alternatives to coping with stress, is to talk to a friend/family member. When something is bothering you, talking to a friend or family member is an immediate way to get feedback on the situation. They can help you talk through emotions that you might not fully understand, and give you a different perspective on the situation.Exercisealso helps to cope with stress. When the stress hormones are released, the body gets reved up for some sort of activity to respond – either fight or flight. In addition to releasing this energy, exercise will have numerous other benefits from cardiovascular health to weight loss. However, always consult your doctor before beginning a new exercise program.

Heres an article that helps people who are emotional eaters

Help for Emotional Eaters


Wow this is crazy! I agree that normally you will hear people say sweets is what they need when they are down, me being one of them. But now I know that it has only been adding to other problems making them worse in the end. That's crazy! Looks like people should try to find something else that can calm them down or make them happy again because so far from reading your blog it looks like in the end it is not worth it and is really making things worse.

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