Depression and anxiety can alter a person's ability to taste, as well as the efficacy of other senses. People who have mood disorders that are related to disturbances in serotonin and noradrenaline levels, such as depression or anxiety, are significantly less able to taste all flavors — especially sweetness.
More facts about taste:
- A person's ability to taste is largely determined by genetic factors. About 25 percent of Americans are "supertasters," which means that they are born with more taste buds than the average person. Supertasters experience flavors much more strongly than the average person and can detect extremely subtle flavors. There's a downside, though — supertasters also have increased pain reception in their mouths and tend to dislike many foods, which can lead to nutrition problems.
- There also are nontasters — the opposite of supertasters — who have fewer than the average number of taste buds. It's estimated that about 25 percent of Americans are nontasters.
- The lessened ability to taste might actually exacerbate the effects of depression and anxiety, because it can contribute to bad eating habits. Mood disorders are closely linked to nutrition, so the lessened ability to taste combined with the lack of motivation for preparing food can lead to poor nutrition and bad eating habits.