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Hunger or food scarcity surely affects the physical body, but they also take a toll on mental health. From anxiety and depression to emotional trauma, various mental health issues can be caused by extreme hunger.

Following are some psychological and emotional effects of hunger that can disrupt mental health on severe levels. 

  • Anxiety

Everyone feels anxiety at some point. However, people who face food insecurity or a shortage of food resources feel extreme anxiety and depression as they can not find ways to make ends meet.

Household income, the economic condition of the country, and the continuous availability of resources are the most common reasons people do not get proper food. It leads to anxiety and depression on a mass level.

Especially if moms do not get to eat healthy foods during their pregnancy and after childbirth, they are prone to develop long-term depression and mental illness. 

  • PTSD

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, is a severe form of extreme stress and depression. It is triggered by experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event, and hunger can be one of them. 

When you have to worry about where the next meal will be arranged, it damages your emotional well-being and gives you chronic stress. 

Every 1 in 8 households in the USA has insufficient food, making up almost 44.2 million people. It depicts that a significant number of people are at risk of PTSD and other mental health issues.

  • Lack of cognitive functions in children

Food insecurity, which leads adults to depression, affects the cognitive functions of children as well. It means that malnourished children are not capable of thinking, analyzing, remembering, and reasoning better. They lack problem-solving skills as well. 

Hence, lack of food causes children to perform poorly at school. They also struggle with anxiety and depression, which can lead to further extreme mental health problems later in their lives.

  • Being hangry (Hungry + Angry)

Hangry is a term used to express anger and frustration due to a lack of food or being hungry. Emotional awareness plays a key role here. Someone with balanced emotions might not be affected by hunger, but someone with weak emotional awareness might feel irritated when hungry. 

Being starved for longer periods and the uncertainty of a continuous supply of food cause rage and anger. It disrupts a healthy lifestyle, and people can not control their emotions. 

  • Memory impairments 

Since hunger causes a nutrition deficit, it affects memory negatively. It can reduce the capacity to hold and utilize information properly. When people do not get sufficient sugar and other vitamins and minerals due to hunger, it can impair cognitive functions and memory.

Chronic hunger can lead to structural and functional changes in the hippocampus (a part of the brain). It results in bad memory and poor functioning of the mind.

Last Words

Food crises are traumatic. People suffering from food crises, even after they get sufficient food resources, keep memories of hunger inside them. Lack of nutritional food affects both body and mind. It makes people stressed, depressed, and in a constant state of anxiety. Emotionally vulnerable people get a major hit by food crises, and their emotions get out of their control.


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