Depression Leads to Obesity and vice-versa
Depression should be taken seriously and not only in terms of mental health, but in terms of physical health, too. The relationship between depression and obesity works on both ways: depressed people may gain weight and overweight people usually become depressed.
On one hand, it is a true fact that emotional eating as a method of coping with your problems- including your depression, can lead to weight gain and obesity. People who report high levels of depression tend to gain weight at a faster rate than others. The main reasons for getting fat while depressed are the hormonal and immunity imbalances that occur in your body. Abnormal levels of certain brain chemicals, like serotonin and cortisol, which play an important role in determining your mood, are some of the factors which determine depressions. These neurotransmitter substances also have an important role in increasing your cravings for high-carbohydrate foods and this thing leads, of course, to eating more and weight gaining. More than this, people who are depressed are not only craving for more foods, but they also experience difficulties in adhering to fitness regiments. So, while depressed, it may be harder to keep physically active, another thing which also contributes to weight gain.
On the other hand, being obese increases your risk of developing depression. Having a poor body image affects how you perceive yourself, leading to feelings of being unworthy or guilty. Being aware that you are obese can also keep you in a continual state of stress, which, over time, can lead to severe psychological complications including depression.
The truth is that, no matter which one was first- the depression or the obesity, none of them can be eliminated easily. Dieting can help you lose unwanted pounds, but it can worsen your mood, making you feel more depressant. Antidepressants, which can make you feel better, usually cause weight gain, so they should be minimized.
Under supervised treatment, obesity and depression can be managed both at the same time. It is important to talk with a counselor or other mental health professional, when you are depressed. Therapy can help you feel much better and can support you to join a fitness program. It was proven that regular physical activity helps reduce depression symptoms as well as weight. In turn, losing weight if you are obese will give you more energy and can improve your mood.
- “Archives of General Psychiatry”; Overweight, Obesity and Depression: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Longitudinal Studies; FS Luppino, et al; March 2010;