We often talk about "emotional eating." But the overeating that frequently accompanies depression is about more than just comfort food. Appetite changes are among a long list of depression symptoms, including persistent sadness and hopelessness, irritability, and loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed. 

If you or loved one has signs of depression, like overeating, getting professional help should be a top priority. Confidant can link you to qualified mental health providers in your area who can discuss treatment options with you. Also, if your depression is making you feel like you can't stop eating, you may consider some of the following strategies helpful to use along with treatment to control the urge. 


Know Your Trigger Foods

Many of us have foods that once we start eating them, it seems we can't stop. Recognize which foods are hard for you to limit and avoid making them readily available. Not having that giant bag of tortilla chips or chocolate candies handy is a foolproof way to keep from polishing off the whole package. 


Don't Ban Favorite Foods

At the same time, don't deprive yourself entirely of your favorite foods. Try to learn to enjoy them in moderation. You may have your favorite ice cream once a week, on special occasions, or as a reward for meeting specific goals. You'll find that you savor them more when you have them less frequently.


Fill Up on Healthy Foods

You'll be less likely to eat non-healthy foods if you satisfy your appetite with nutritious choices. Fuel up on low-calorie, high-fiber foods, such as non-starchy vegetables

Do some prep work ahead of time, too. Wash and cut carrots, broccoli, and bell peppers in advance to quickly snack on or toss into stir-fries or salads.


Stay Hydrated

We often mistake thirst for hunger. Stay ahead of the game by drinking plenty of water throughout the day. A glass just before a meal can help satisfy your thirst before you start eating.


Don't Eat Directly From the Container

It's hard to judge portion sizes when you dig right into the package. You may also find that the experience of eating is more enjoyable when you take the time to serve food on a beautiful plate or in a bowl.


Manage Stress

Learn to recognize stress triggers that may be contributing to overeating and try to find strategies to manage them. Are you saying, "yes" to obligations you could say, "no" too? Are there people you can lean on for help, or even just a friend to talk with when you're feeling stressed out? A therapist can help you develop approaches to reign in stress eating if it's an issue for you.


Eat Regular Meals

Have a structured schedule for meals rather than just random eating throughout the day. Make balanced food choices when you plan meals. And don't skip  -- that can lead to overeating later when your next mealtime arrives.


Keep a Food Journal

Write down what you eat and when you eat it. You may start to see patterns emerging. Do you tend to eat most of your calories late at night, for instance? Jotting down notes about how you're feeling before, during, or after you eat can be revealing, too. 


If depression is causing you to overeat, it's easy to feel as if you've lost control. Take steps to address overeating and get back that control. But remember, these strategies are not a substitution for getting professional treatment for your depression.