Science Shows Losing Weight Could Help Ease Depression
Theres no doubt slimming down and getting in shape can make you feel good. But new research shows theres a connection between weight loss and depression. Obesity and depression are both major public health issues that affect many people at the same time. In the United States, about 43% of adults with depression are also living with obesity. Both conditions can make it harder to function on a daily basis and are associated with other health issues such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
Unfortunately, the number of people affected by both conditions has also increased due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, some public health experts warn of a looming depreobesity epidemic due to stress from derailed routines, economic insecurity and less social contact, according to recent research in Obesity Medicine.
The critical need to make effective treatment and prevention programs available and accessible for individuals living with these conditions is more important than ever, says Dr. , a professor of medicine and researcher specializing in innovative lifestyle intervention studies at the Institute for Health Research and Policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Alcohol Tobacco And Other Drugs
Misusing alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs can have both immediate and long-term health effects.
The misuse and abuse of alcohol, tobacco, illicit drugs, and prescription medications affect the health and well-being of millions of Americans. SAMHSAs 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health reports that approximately 19.3 million people aged 18 or older had a substance use disorder in the past year.
Depression And Weight Gain Depression And Weight Loss
Changes in weight can be a symptom of mental illness. Weight loss and weight gain are associated with depression. Moreover, weight gain and weight loss are also associated with some depression medication. When depressed, weight changes may be difficult to fight, but once on the right medication, a healthier weight can be achieved.
Recommended Reading: How To Get Ssi For Depression
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. 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 . 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 .
Can Depression Stop Me From Losing Weight
While depression itself does not stop you from losing weight, your weight loss goals will be affected if you cope with your depression by reaching for unhealthy foods.
Many people with depression may feel hungrier than usual or seek foods loaded with fat, sugar, and salt that may provide instant comfort or satisfaction. However, such foods can not only cause more emotional distress in the long run, but it can also lead to weight gain.
Studies suggest that depression and obesity are connected. People who are depressed are more likely to be obese, and people with obesity are at higher risk of depression. Both affect each other and make each other worse.
While it is normal to eat more or less on some days due to depression, clinical depression can result in drastic weight loss or gain.
Read Also: Can Weight Loss Pills Cause Depression
So When Should You Worry About Weight Loss Due To Stress
Most of the time, it isnt a major cause for concern. Typically a change of less than 10 pounds or 5% of body mass isnt considered clinically significant, because most peoples weight naturally ebbs and flows within a range, rather than being a fixed number, says Rosmarin.
Plus, when things calm down, your body usually goes back to normal functioning and your appetite, or desire to eat, returns. When eating returns to normal, because there is less muscle to burn calories, the weight can come back quickly, Goodpastor says. As your life stabilizes, your weight likely will too.
Medical Issues That Can Cause A Decrease In Appetite
Aside from being a normal variant, a decrease in appetite for new mothers can be a sign of a more serious issue.
It is important to monitor your symptoms and get evaluated by your doctor if you think you may have any of the below conditions.
Here is a list of postpartum medical conditions that can cause a decrease in appetite.
- baby blues
- Feeling hopeless or guilty, like a bad mother
- Suicidal thoughts or thoughts of dying
If you have a history of depression, anxiety disorders, or other mental health conditions, you are at a higher risk of developing PPD.
If you have any of these symptoms of postpartum depression along with a loss of appetite, you should seek help immediately!
Thankfully, there are effective treatments for this condition. Your doctor can help create a treatment plan tailored to your needs.
Note: Postpartum psychosis is another condition that can mimic the above.
You May Like: How To Get Someone To Eat When They Are Depressed
Common Causes Of Depression
Scientists do not yet know the exact cause of depression. However, many experts think that several factors play a role in its onset, including:
- Genetics: Depression can run in families. Having a close relative with the condition can raise a persons risk for developing it themselves.
- Biological and chemical differences: Physical changes or chemical imbalances in the brain may contribute to the development of depression.
- Hormones: Hormonal changes or imbalances in the body may cause or trigger depression. For example, many women experience postpartum depression after giving birth.
- Trauma or stress: Periods of high stress, traumatic events, or major life changes can trigger an episode of depression in some people.
- Personality traits: Having low self-esteem or being pessimistic, for example, may increase the risk of depression.
- Other illnesses: Having another mental or physical health condition or taking certain medications can increase the risk of depression.
People who believe that they may have hidden depression should speak to their doctor or a mental health professional. These professionals can help make a diagnosis and recommend a course of treatment.
Other steps to treat depression might include:
Not everyone with depression will display the typical symptoms of sadness and despair.
Sometimes, the only signs a person may show are physical, such as fatigue, insomnia, or weight changes.
Work With A Licensed Therapist
Work with professionals who will guide you in learning ways to manage stress and weight-related issues. If youâre suffering from anxiety due to prolonged stress and feel your weight or physical health is being affected, a licensed therapist can help you. With compassion and expertise, licensed therapists are equipped to help you develop positive and healthy eating habits. You can read reviews of some BetterHelp therapists below, from people experiencing similar issues.
âShana is a very helpful and thoughtful counselor. Shana not only helped me work through my immediate problems but discussed a path forward so that I could find more time to enjoy myself and manage the stress and anxiety in the future. I really appreciate her counseling.â
Recommended Reading: How Does Schizophrenia Affect Families
Don’t Miss: Do Dogs Get Postpartum Depression
Exercise When Its Convenient For You
In most cases, people have a strict workout schedule. They exercise at a specific time of day every time. While for many people this type of schedule is practical, it may not be the case for persons with depression. You see, individuals with depression may feel even more stress that leads to loss of motivation if theyre subjected to a strict exercise schedule. Thats why persons with this common mental and emotional health problem should exercise when its convenient for them. Dont pressure yourself to exercise at a specific time of day. Give yourself some liberty to work out when you feel well enough to do so. This is important because some people find their symptoms are worse in the morning while others in the afternoon or night. So, one size fits all rule doesnt apply here. At the end of the day, it all comes down to how you feel.
Some People Also Experience Depression After Losing Weight
You could also notice something of an opposite effect feelings of depression after intentional weight loss.
Perhaps youve lost some weight, just not as much as you hoped. If your weight loss has plateaued, you may feel frustrated, hopeless, or discouraged. These feelings can negatively affect your mood and general outlook.
The truth is, any personal difficulties, relationship problems, or workplace challenges wont automatically disappear once you lose weight. These concerns, and anything else troubling you, will probably stick around until you address them.
Some evidence also suggests a potential link between malnutrition and depression. This link could help explain the fact that many people with eating disorders also have depression, though more research is needed.
When you skip meals or severely restrict calories whether due to an eating disorder or another reason, like food insecurity or lack of access to nutritious food your brain and body dont get enough energy to function properly, prompting symptoms like energy loss, fatigue, and low mood.
Regaining lost weight can help boost your energy, which can make it easier to cope with other depression symptoms. These strategies can offer a place to start.
Recommended Reading: Can I Get Out Of Depression
Seek Medical And Professional Advice
Last but not least, before you pay for any fitness services to lose weight or dieting supplements for the same, seek medical and professional advice. In this case, your physician and fitness trainer is the first people to turn to.
Your physician or dietitian evaluates your health and recommends the best practices that will help you shed all the extra pounds. The fitness trainer guides you on the day-to-day physical activities that will get you to your goal in the healthiest way possible.
A therapist, or any mentally trained specialist, is another medical professional you could visit about mental health if you already suffer depression after losing weight.
When you notice depression symptoms, dont be ashamed to get help. You are your best bet for surviving post-weight-loss sadness.
Emerging Trends In Substance Misuse:
- MethamphetamineIn 2019, NSDUH data show that approximately 2 million people used methamphetamine in the past year. Approximately 1 million people had a methamphetamine use disorder, which was higher than the percentage in 2016, but similar to the percentages in 2015 and 2018. The National Institute on Drug Abuse Data shows that overdose death rates involving methamphetamine have quadrupled from 2011 to 2017. Frequent meth use is associated with mood disturbances, hallucinations, and paranoia.
- CocaineIn 2019, NSDUH data show an estimated 5.5 million people aged 12 or older were past users of cocaine, including about 778,000 users of crack. The CDC reports that overdose deaths involving have increased by one-third from 2016 to 2017. In the short term, cocaine use can result in increased blood pressure, restlessness, and irritability. In the long term, severe medical complications of cocaine use include heart attacks, seizures, and abdominal pain.
- KratomIn 2019, NSDUH data show that about 825,000 people had used Kratom in the past month. Kratom is a tropical plant that grows naturally in Southeast Asia with leaves that can have psychotropic effects by affecting opioid brain receptors. It is currently unregulated and has risk of abuse and dependence. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that health effects of Kratom can include nausea, itching, seizures, and hallucinations.
You May Like: Is Depression A Sin In The Bible
How To Avoid Weight Loss From Stress
Its about self-care and being kinder to your body, says Rosemarin. Heres what you can do:
- Exercise: That means moving your body more, by walking or doing whatever you enjoy most.
- Get regular sleep: Sleeping for 7-9 hours per night is ideal.
- Eat at regular intervals: Yes, even if your appetite is less than robust.
- Connect with others: Isolation is hard on your body. Actually connecting with people emotionally, whether its family or a close friend, is really key, Rosemarin says.
How Anxiety May Cause Weight Loss
- Anxiety has a complex relationship with weight, and can be responsible for weight gain or in some cases weight loss.
- Weight loss from anxiety is typically safe, but not necessarily considered a healthy form of weight loss.
- Its important to know the causes of weight loss so you can monitor your lifestyle habits and changes and see if you need to alter your behaviors or diet.
- Weight loss itself can also contribute to anxiety, so it is important to address anxiety and rule out other conditions.
- Reducing anxiety may or may not cause the weight to go or come back, but is important for healthier living.
Read Also: Medication For Insomnia And Depression
Seeking Help And Support For Depression
If you have been recently experiencing symptoms of depression, it is important to reach out for professional support.
Firstly, speak to your GP or a mental health professional, like the psychiatrists, psychologists and therapists here at Priory Group. This will give you an opportunity to talk about what youve been experiencing and access the support and treatment that you may need to start feeling better.
Here at Priory Group we treat people with all forms of depression and have a range of treatment programmes available for the condition. When you first meet with a member of our team, they will work with you to determine the most effective treatment pathway. This could include:
Blog reviewed by Dr Sara Morando Consultant Psychiatrist at Priory Hospital North London
For details of how Priory can provide you with assistance regarding mental health and wellbeing, please call 0800 840 3219 or . For professionals looking to make a referral, please click here
Lean Toward Foods That Can Help Improve Your Mood And Manage Stress
Skipping sweets and other treats in favor of something healthy can have a noticeable impact on the way your body feels. A good rule of thumb is to stick to whole foods, like fruits and veggies.
Some of our functional favorites:
- Whole grains contain serotonin-boosting complex carbohydrates. Increasing your serotonin levels may have a calming effect.
- Salmon and tuna contain omega-3 fatty acids, which can help reduce stress.
- Nuts and seeds also contain stress-busting omega-3 fatty acids.
Don’t Miss: Natural Supplements For Adhd And Depression
Why Do I Feel Full After Only A Few Bites Of Food
When inflammation occurs, your stomach lining changes and loses some of its protective cells. It may also cause early satiety. This is where your stomach feels full after eating just a few bites of food. Because chronic gastritis occurs over a long period of time it gradually wears away at your stomach lining.
How Does Your Mood Affect Your Food Choices
There are times when my mood is so low that I really cannot even be bothered thinking about what I am eating. At those times, it all just seems too hard. When my mood is good and Im feeling on top of things, I can resist, well at least until the bag of chips is open! When my mood is taking a dive, I reach for the chips. When Im bored, I make a sandwich. I also love to bake. I make and decorate cakes and cupcakes because I enjoy doing it. I dont usually eat them although I do like to eat the batter. I give them to my friends and colleagues. It makes me feel happy to see others eating the food I have made. I guess thats how Mum felt too. Baking is something I do to alleviate stress. All of the special occasions in my life have involved food. Eating together with people you love is such a lovely thing to do. We were never a sporty family so we didnt go for walks or hikes or anything like that. We come from a long line of TV watchers who love to eat. A family reunion or event always involves mountains of food.
Also Check: No One Takes My Depression Seriously
Reasons Why Depression And Weight Gain Or Weight Loss Are Connected
The mind and body are connected and function as one whole. They affect each other and move with each other. What happens in your brain impacts your gut and vice versa. Similarly, your own life experiences are processed by not just your brain but by your whole system. This is the fundamental reason for the association between weight loss, weight gain, and depression.
Depression and weight are biological, at least in part. Just two examples of the connection:
- The neurotransmitter serotonin is important in mood regulation. We think of it as part of the brains chemistry, which it is, but did you know that about 90 percent of serotonin is produced in the gut ?
- The limbic system in the brain is responsible for both emotion and appetite. This could be a strong reason why depression impacts each. A voracious appetite and a meager one directly affect weight.
Depression isnt solely biological, of course, so weight changes arent either. Other contributing factors to depression and weight loss or weight gain include:
There are sound reasons why depression weight loss and weight gain happen. That doesnt mean that theyre inevitable, however, and if you do experience unwelcome weight changes with depression, you can reverse them.