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Can Depression Lead To Weight Loss

Can Being Overweight Lead To Depression Or Is It The Other Way Around

Emotional Weight Loss & Depression Stories | GPs: Behind Closed Doors | Channel 5

Its important to be comfortable with your own body. Self-love is essential for happiness and mental health. But have you been gaining weight lately? Do you feel bad that your clothes dont fit anymore?

There may come a time when you stare at yourself in front of the mirror and feel bad about the weight you gained. So does being overweight cause depression?

Many published medical articles online have discussed the relationship between obesity and depression. According to studies, obesity does cause depression, and they can go hand in hand and feed off each other.

In this article, youll learn how obesity and depression are related. It will also outline ways to deal with both.

Can Depression Cause A Lack Of Appetite

Depression can affect our appetite and change the relationship that we have with food. It can cause us to eat unhealthily, eat more than usual and it can also lead to a loss of appetite.

Within this blog, we have focused on depression and a loss of appetite. If you have been struggling to eat because of your depression, we will look at why this may be happening and what you can do to start making positive changes. We will also explore the treatment options that are available to you to help you get back on track.

Does Stress Factor Into This

Stress is absolutely a factor in both depression and obesity.

Chronic stress and anxiety, for example, can lead to depression. Likewise, stress can make someone more likely to turn to food as a coping mechanism. That can lead to weight gain and eventually obesity.

On the opposite side, stress can also lead to weight loss, or other disordered eating habits.

In adolescents, stressful life events like bullying and weight-based teasing have been linked to depression. This is especially true for young people who are overweight or have obesity.

Stress reduction is one of the first-line treatments for both depression and obesity. When youre able to handle the emotions related to your stress and anxiety, you can more easily tackle other issues that can lead to both depression and obesity.

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Weight Management Tips For People With Depression

Are you up or down? It’s not just your mood, but also your weight that can be affected by depression. These tips can help you regain balance.

Which comes first, obesity or depression? Just like the chicken or the egg scenario, the underlying problem with depression and weight gain can be hard to tell. Symptoms of depression and weight management issues are linked, and the relationship is a two-way street. In fact, a study done in the Netherlands found that obesity increases the risk for depression in initially non-depressed people by 55 percent, and depression increases the risk for obesity in initially normal-weight people by 58 percent.

Why are depression and weight issues so intertwined? The part of the brain responsible for emotion the limbic system also controls appetite, explains Joseph Hullett, MD, senior medical director of clinical strategy for OptumHealth Behavioral Solutions in Golden Valley, Minn. When this emotional part of the brain gets disturbed in someone who is depressed, appetite gets disturbed as well.

In addition, some of the medications used to treat depression can have weight-related side effects, either causing weight loss or weight gain.

Depression and Weight Gain Versus Weight Loss

When depression sets in, the appetite control center of the brain can get thrown off in either direction. Some people have a problem with depression and weight gain, and other people have a problem with depression and weight loss, Dr. Hullett says.

Try To Avoid Foods That Can Crash Your Blood Sugar And Make You Feel Worse

The link between weight gain and depression

Although foods high in sugar can provide a quick boost of energy, the comedown is inevitable. When the sugar leaves your bloodstream, it may leave you feeling worse than before.

Foods high in fat and sodium may also make stress worse.

Try to limit or avoid the following until your stress subsides:

  • fried food
  • processed foods

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What Are The Causes Of Sudden Loss Of Appetite

  • Infections: An infection in the mouth or gastrointestinal tract may distract your craving for a meal especially if there is pain during chewing or swallowing. It might be difficult to chew foods if you are suffering painful tooth decay
  • Diseases: Certain diseases such as hyperthyroidism, AIDS, flu, fever or a headache are known to cause a sudden loss of appetite. It may not happen to all the patients but majority report decreased appetite. Ones appetite is restored when the situation ends or get controlled
  • Medications: Some prescription medicines are associated with loss of appetite. Medicines used in the treatment of cancer, antibiotics, pain killers can take away your easting abilities. Even those self-medicating medicines you obtain from your local pharmacy can lead to appetite loss
  • Emotional Stress: Feelings that affect your moods which include loneliness, boredom, nervousness, fear, worry or tension can lead to loss of appetite. You may feel upset, or your stomach develop complications taking away your desire to eat

Why Might The Relation Between Weight Change And Depression Diminish During Adolescence

One possibility is that weight change during adolescence is so driven by other factors that the effects of depression on weight are eliminated, or at least greatly obscured. Indeed, 50% of adult body weight is gained during adolescence . A large part of this is because of typical developmental changes in metabolism and physiology. The hypothalamus and various hypothalamic neuropeptides not only regulate appetite, food intake, and weight gain , but are also linked to the onset of puberty . Various endogenous reward systems linked to puberty and weight/appetitive regulation, including the serotonergic system, the dopaminergic system, the noradrenergic system, and endogenous opioids such as the endorphins and enkephalins , have been linked to weight change and food consumption. Changes in all these systems have been associated with puberty .

Behavioral changes during adolescence further complicate the picture. The steepest age-related decline in physical activity occurs between ages 13 and 18, largely because of decreases in nonorganized sports and vigorous activity . Furthermore, people consume more calories relative to their body weight during adolescence compared to any other time during the life span . If adolescent weight change is largely controlled by normative developmental processes, the effect of depression on weight during this developmental period may be greatly reduced.

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Causes Of Lost Appetite

When someone has depression, it may be that they occasionally skip or do not finish their meals. They may go for days without eating or drinking enough. This can impact on their energy levels and cause weight loss and health problems, making their depression even worse.

There are a number of reasons why depression can cause a loss of appetite, including:

  • A person with depression will often lose interest in activities that they once enjoyed. Sometimes, this means that the pleasure they used to gain from preparing or eating food disappears
  • People tend to feel low in energy when they are depressed this can mean that having to cook or eat may feel like too much for them
  • People with depression often experience anxiety which can result in gastrointestinal symptoms , which can cause a loss of appetite
  • Depression can cause people to feel sad, worthless or hopeless. With so much going on in their mind, they can forget to eat
  • With depression, it can feel as though you really dont like yourself. You may believe that your health doesnt matter or that you dont deserve to eat or to feel better
  • Some antidepressants can reduce appetite or cause gastrointestinal discomfort, which means that people may eat less

Understanding Loss Of Appetite

Weight Loss When You Have Crippling Depression & Anxiety

Perhaps at one time you developed a dislike for your favorite meal. You may just pick a few spoons and you become full.

In other occasions, you might feel full for a meal. A worse situation may occur where you feel hungry but you are unable to eat you best food. Your body becomes weak making it difficult to carry out your daily activities.

Your coordination is severed coz your brain doesnt get proper nutrition to function normally.

Persistent dislike for meals may lead to malnutrition making you susceptible to opportunistic illnesses.

Also Check: Does Depression Have A Cause

Preliminary Analyses: Descriptive Statistics And Factor Analyses

Means and standard deviations, broken down by school and sex of participant are summarized in Table 1. Correlations among the objective and subjective measures of weight, body mass, body fat, and body shape at Wave 1 appear in Table 2. All correlations were relatively large, ranging from .53 to .93. Factor analysis of these measures revealed a single strong factor with loadings ranging from 0.72 to 0.99 , suggesting further evidence of a shared component between the variables. When we used these same measures to estimate change, however, a more complicated pattern arose. Table 3 contains correlations among change estimations based on these same eight physical measures. These correlations ranged from .04 to .87 . Oblique principal axis factor analysis revealed two factors . As shown on the right side of Table 3, the four objective measures loaded onto the first factor, the self-report measures of weight and BMI loaded onto the second factor, and the two SABS measures of change did not load onto either factor. The large disparities among these measures of change should be kept in mind throughout the following tests of our hypotheses.

Depression Medication That May Cause Weight Loss And Weight Gain

Certain medications are commonly known to affect body weight more than others. Below is a list of medications that have been found most likely to cause weight changes.

Antidepressants that may cause weight gain:

  • Mirtazapine

Antidepressants that may cause weight loss:

  • Fluoxetine
  • Duloxetine

Of the above medications associated with weight loss, Bupropion is the most linked to weight loss. Fluoxetine has been connected to weight loss in some cases, but may then lead to weight gain in the long term. The link between Duloxetine and weight loss is inconsistent.

Not all patients who take antidepressants will gain weight. However, weight gain is a possible side effect of certain antidepressants. For patients who are looking for an alternative to antidepressants, TMS is a medication-free, noninvasive procedure that provides relief from depression symptoms without the side effects associated with antidepressants.


1. Needham BL, Epel ES, Adler NE, and Kiefe C. Trajectories of change in obesity and symptoms of depression: the CARDIA study. Am J Public Health. 2010 100:1040-1046. Accessed December 27, 2020.

2. Luppino FS, de Wit LM, Bouvy PF, Stijnen T, Cuijpers P, Penninx BWJH, Zitman FG. Overweight, obesity, and depression: a systematic review and meta-analysis of longitudinal studies. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2010 Mar 67:220-229. Accessed December 27, 2020.

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The Complex Link Between Depression And Weight

Food and mood often go together. You might reach for a comforting bag of chips when you feel down. Or feel so stressed that you canât even think about eating.

Itâs normal for difficult emotions to make you overeat or eat too little. But if you live with clinical depression, changes in eating can be long-term and lead to drastic weight gain or loss.

Can Stress Cause Weight Loss Even When Eating: Physiological Mechanisms Behind Stress

Does losing weight help with depression?

Have you noticed that you have been losing weight without trying and cannot explain the reason behind this? People claim that if you overtax yourself, either thorough work or due to personal matters you may find yourself shedding a couple of pounds without putting in any effort. But is this true? Can stress cause weight loss even when eating all the right foods?

While many people would give almost anything to shed a couple of extra pounds, weight loss is not the goal for everyone. Some people hope to maintain their current weight while others may be struggling to add some extra kilograms. To these people unexplained weight loss is not something they desire.

If you are in either of these two groups and are wondering why am I losing weight?, read on to find out can stress cause weight loss even when eating, causes of unexplained weight loss, and risks of extreme weight loss and much more.

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How Depression Affects Appetite

Depression affects appetite in two different ways. Some depressed people suffer increased loss of appetite. They avoid meals or take very little to maintain their lives. Eventually, there is notable weight loss in such individuals.

Other forms of depression can manifest in an increased appetite. One is continually craving and reaching out for food especially junk foodstuffs. Such an individual becomes overweight in the long run.

Tips To Overcome Barriers

You may have found that one or several of the common psychological barriers to weight loss look familiar to you. It is not unusual to experience multiple hurdles on your journey to a healthy weight. But these roadblocks don’t need to prevent your success.

Each of the tips and suggestions below can address multiple barriers. These suggestions are also healthy strategies for lifelong wellness that carry no side effects and are almost all completely free. Consider giving one or more of these solutions a try.

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How Therapy Can Help

Therapy can help you cope with depression symptoms, including weight gain. While there are many different depression treatments available, they may not all be right for you. Many therapists will incorporate several types of treatment vs. just one, which can be a helpful way to figure out what works best for you.

One of the most effective therapies for depression is cognitive behavioral therapy . It can help you to create new beliefs about yourself and implement corresponding behaviors to combat depression and weight gain. Behavioral activation, one strategy in CBT, can help you identify ways to get your body moving that increase meaning in your life and may lead to pleasurable feelings.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy , another type of depression therapy, can also help you weigh your values to decide which symptoms and adverse effects feel bearable and which ones youd like to change. All of these therapies can help introduce you to healthy ways to cope with changes your body may make while youre feeling depressed, including weight gain, increased fatigue, or lower self-esteem.

Explore an online therapist directory in order to get help from a therapist who is licensed in your state and competent to work with you to battle the symptoms of depression. To make sure youre getting someone who is a good fit for you, take a look at what they are trained to treat, what treatments they use, and how they can help you to set goals in therapy.

What Does Prior Research Tell Us About The Relation Of Weight Change To Depression In Adolescence


A variety of studies provide preliminary evidence of a relation between weight change and depression in this age group . Overall, 1550% of adolescents with major depression report having experienced recent weight loss and approximately 042% report recent weight gains. Upon closer examination, however, four key limitations of this research become evident.

First, the majority of these studies are based exclusively upon self-report measures of weight change. Instead of obtaining physical measures of weight, body mass, or body fat, researchers have simply asked participants questions such as whether their weight has increased or decreased lately, how much weight they may have gained or lost, or whether their clothes fit looser or tighter than they used to. This is problematic in that a growing literature clearly documents that self-reports of weight are substantially biased. Vartanian, Herman, and Polivy found that dieters and nondieters weight estimates deviated from their actual weight by an average of 9.9 and 8.3 lb, respectively. In general, weight and body mass index estimates by heavier individuals are less accurate than are estimates by lighter participants . Himes and Faricy found that the validity of adolescent self-reported height and weight was so variable across age and weight groups that they declared such measures to be invalid proxies for objective body measures in adolescents under 14 .

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What Is Samhsa’s National Helpline

SAMHSAs National Helpline, , or TTY: is a confidential, free, 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year, information service, in English and Spanish, for individuals and family members facing mental and/or substance use disorders. This service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations.

Also visit the online treatment locator, or send your zip code via text message: 435748 to find help near you. Read more about the HELP4U text messaging service.

The Link Between Depression And Changes In Weight

Depression can cause weight changes, but its not the same for everyone, says Dr. Roberta Ballard, a clinical psychologist in Marietta, Georgia.

Some people lose their appetite when they and lose a lot of weight. Other people experience an increase in their appetite , she explains. This can be due to physical changes related to depression that suppress your satiety signals.

Appetite changes are a formal symptom of major depressive disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition .

A 2019 study notes that several factors may contribute to weight changes, including:

  • change in eating habits
  • reduced physical activity
  • challenges adhering to lifestyle recommendations

In addition, research from 2018 shows that depression and challenges with executive functioning may lead to a higher BMI and increased body fat.

This could, in part, help explain the link between depression and eating disorders.

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