- Question from Dennie: Could a change of diet help ease depression? Are there any particular foods that can help alleviate it?
- Answers - Diane Thompson Eating a healthful diet is so important, particularly while undergoing breast cancer treatment, although it can be hard to eat well during that time. There is no magical diet, but it is important to consume a diet that is as balanced as possible.
- Jennifer Griggs, M.D., M.P.H. One thing to avoid if you're depressed is alcohol. If you find that you're drinking more alcohol than you used to, this is something to discuss with your treatment team.
- Rosalind Kleban, L.C.S.W. Eating has always been seen as a way of nurturing oneself and giving oneself a treat, and during treatment women often try to cheer themselves up by overeating. I often tell patients that if a moderate gain of 10 to 15 lbs. is not going to be disturbing, perhaps they can give themselves that treat. If, however, that weight gain is going to add to the depression, then the patient is going to have to be more thoughtful about the eating and perhaps when the urge strikes, indulge in carrots and celery instead of cookies.
- Diane Thompson While a healthy diet is important, we know more about ways that exercise can improve mood. Exercise can definitely improve mood, and, in fact, increases some of the neurotransmitters associated with mood. When we exercise, levels of serotonin and norepinephrine rise. An increase in these substances is associated with improved mood. This doesn't mean patients should start training for a marathon, but rather do what's comfortable for them. Doing things like taking a walk can increase those mood-elevating substances.
The Ask-the-Expert Online Conference called Overcoming Depression featured Rosalind Kleban, M.S.W., Diane S. Thompson, M.D., and Jennifer Griggs, M.D., M.P.H. answering your questions about medication and lifestyle changes that can ease depression along with to put hope, fun, and pleasure back into your life during and after breast cancer treatment.
Editor's Note: This conference took place in March 2003.
The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.
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