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Depression and weight problems

Depression and Weight Problems

Depression and weight problems are both heavy burdens that often go hand in hand. Some people gain weight when they’re depressed, others lose weight in an unhealthy way.

Depression and Weight Gain
According to studies, obesity is linked to higher risks of developing depression, and vice versa. But it’s still unclear which one comes first; kind of like the story of the chicken and the egg. What is certain though, is that depression has many symptoms that can worsen obesity, such as lack of energy, lack of motivation, and appetite disturbances. It’s also important to know that weight gain is a side effect of many antidepressants.
On one hand, obesity leads to health issues like diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure, and on the other hand, depression can result in social isolation, drug and alcohol addiction, anxiety, and even worse, suicide.

When a person gets dragged into the cycle of depression and weight gain, they feel stuck in a never-ending loop: you eat to feel better, especially foods with high sugar or fat content, and when you feel good, you want to eat more, which in turn makes you feel bad because you are gaining weight. Getting out of that cycle can be a real challenge, and the bigger challenge is what to treat first: the weight gain or the depression?

Depression and Weight Loss
Although weight gain is commonly associated with depression, weight loss can also be a problem, because you can lose interest in food and stop eating altogether. Depression can also come with eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa. Having a low body weight starves the brain and the patient develops depression symptoms. This depression can usually be resolved quickly by making sure the patient is eating properly.

If You Move, You Lose – Weight and Depression
The best prescription for both depression and weight gain is one: Exercise. At first, you can start by simply walking then you can gradually include moderate exercises. This will help you feel good about yourself.

Other Recommendations To Help You
It’s also recommended to cut down on fast food and unhealthy eating habits, and making time to cook a meal. Preparing your own food will make you more engaged in caring for your health, thus feeling better about yourself.
Lastly, taking up meditation and practicing mindful eating by becoming aware of what and how you are eating, will help regulate the quantity and quality of your food choices.

Treating depression and weight gain is not just a pill and one-size-fits-all diet plan, it requires a comprehensive program that addresses all aspects of the problem.

 

Christelle Bedrossian
Dietitian-Nutritionist
Beirut, Lebanon

Author Info

Dietitian Christelle Bedrossian

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