You should learn how to be comfortable with your own body. Self-love is very important. But have you been gaining weight lately? Do you feel bad that your clothes won’t fit anymore? There may come a time that you stare at yourself in front of the mirror and feel bad about the weight you gained.
Does being overweight cause depression? Many published medical articles online show the relationship between obesity and depression. In fact, obesity causes depression, and it can go hand in hand and feeds off each other. In this article, you’ll learn how gaining weight or obesity, and depression are related and ways to deal with both.
Am I Obese? Know Your Body Mass Index (BMI)
Gaining excess pounds and obesity are different. How do you know if you’re obese? That’s by measuring your body mass index (BMI). The BMI is an excellent way to determine if you’re underweight, in normal weight, overweight or obese. The BMI is determined if your weight is in proportion to your height.
Being overweight increases the risk for physical ailments like heart disease, high blood pressure, fertility issues in women, and increased blood sugar levels. In addition to a higher risk of developing certain diseases, your mental health can be at stake too.
BMI Calculator: Click Here
Obesity and Depression: What Is The Relationship?
How can being overweight in a person cause depression? What is to blame? Fat cells are the major contributor to the problem. Medical evidence shows that fat cells secrete cytokines that cause inflammation in the brain.
Fat cells secrete substances called cytokines that cause inflammation. The chronic inflammation of the brain, which is often found in people who are obese, is also found in those struggling with depression. Data shows that cytokines have a link to the development of idiopathic major depression.
Brain imaging evidence shows areas of the brain impacted by obesity are the ones involved in appetite regulation and self-control. If the regions of this brain do not function at optimal levels, this makes a person vulnerable to overeating and giving in to cravings, leading to weight gain.
People who feel depressed tend to have increased activity in the brain’s limbic areas, which is involved in setting the emotions and leads to stress. Obesity and depression feed off each other, and it’s a vicious cycle that may be hard to control for some.
Obesity Causes Depression
Education journal shows that obese individuals are 25% more likely to experience depression or mood disorders than those who are not. Obesity can cause low self-esteem, poor self-image perception, and contributing factors to depression.
In addition to this, being overweight may find themselves stereotyped, ostracized, or discriminated against. People with the extra weight also experience chronic joint pain, hypertension, and diabetes, which all have a link to depression.
Depression Can Cause Obesity Weight Changes
People with depression could gain weight too. One of the symptoms of depression is changes in eating and sleeping patterns. A depressed person may binge eat, loves to eat sweets, and may not sleep enough. All of these can lead to obesity. However, there are other people who feel depressed who loses appetite, and lose weight.
A study conducted in a group of young adults shows that teenagers experiencing depressive symptoms are more likely to be overweight the following year. They are likely to eat more, eat junk foods, become sedentary, and avoids exercise. Also, researchers found that people with depression have decreased levels of serotonin. Low serotonin levels can lead to carbohydrate cravings, thus leading to weight gain.
Antidepressant Medications Can Lead to Weight Gain
People with depression are prescribed by their doctor to take antidepressants and they may experience weight gain. Gaining excess weight while taking antidepressant medications is a common side effect. Antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications interfere with serotonin. This leads to the craving for carbohydrate-rich foods and sweets.
While this is not applicable for some, depending on your body type. Ectomorphs do not usually gain weight even when taking antidepressant medications.
Tips On How To Deal With Depression And Obesity
Now that you know the link between depression and obesity; this may convince you to lose a few pounds to take care of your mental health. Getting your emotions and feelings under control could help with weight management. This does not mean that you don’t eat or exercise three hours a day, it doesn’t work that way.
You can start with making little tweaks to your diet and be more active. Obesity is not a disease but increases the risk factors of developing serious health conditions. If you want to lose weight, seek medical advice from your doctor if you need treatment or the lifestyle changes you have to make.
Here are some tips on how to deal with obesity to lose weight and depression. Remember that making a lifestyle change does not happen overnight. It’s a process that needs consistency, motivation, and discipline. Here are some tips:
Exercise And Get Moving
If you live a sedentary lifestyle, this is something you need to change. If you’ve not been physically active for a long time, build up your activity level. Maybe start with doing more chores around the house, walk around the block at least 30 minutes a day, or sign-up for a dance class.
Exercise is an instant mood booster, revs your metabolism, and is important for weight loss. Physical activity stimulates the neurotransmitters in the brain, especially serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine which improves mood.
People who are overweight and depressed can benefit from physical activities that involve aerobic exercise while socializing. This is hitting two birds with one stone: lose weight and avoid isolation. Examples of these activities are dancing classes, team sports, or cycling classes.
Eating healthily is an important factor when losing weight. Physical activity and a clean, healthy diet go hand in hand when losing weight. Start with cutting down on junk foods, sweets, and sugary drinks. Skip the late-night snacks, drink a lot of water, and don’t skip breakfast.
Studies also show that low levels of omega-3 fatty acids are associated with depression and weight gain. Increasing omega-3 levels in your diet can help with obesity and improving your mood. Omega-3 decreases body fat, curbs the appetite, stops cravings and reduces symptoms of depression.
Good fats that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids are:
- Green leafy vegetables (Brussel sprouts, broccoli, spinach)
- Fish (Tuna, wild salmon, trout, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, halibut)
- Flaxseeds, sunflower seeds
- Dark chocolate
Consistency And Motivation Is The Key
The journey to weight loss needs consistency and motivation. A good place to start is to set a realistic and specific goal. How much weight do you plan to lose? What are the healthy foods you need to eat? What do you buy in the grocery? What type of exercise interests you the most? How can you fit exercise into your schedule?
No matter how hard it is at first, do not get too overwhelmed, stick to it. As time passes, you’ll feel like it’s becoming a mandatory part of your lifestyle. Track your progress in a journal, and think of ways to do better. Keeping a positive attitude that you’ll reach your goals is also important.
Increase Your Vitamin D Levels
Evidence and research show that low levels of Vitamin D are associated with depression and obesity. 66% percent of the adult population in the U.S. have low Vitamin D levels. To be successful with dealing with depression and obesity, increase your Vitamin D levels.
Regular sun exposure for at least 10 minutes a day between 7-9 am is a good source of Vitamin D. You can also eat foods rich in Vitamin D like seafood, mushrooms, and egg yolks. Consult with your doctor as well if you can take Vitamin D health supplements.
Talk To A Mental Health Professional
If you’re suffering from depression, it is best to talk to a counselor. It is important that while you’re taking care of your physical health, you should look after your mental health too. You may be overwhelmed by your feelings and emotions, that it’s nice to have a professional help you sort out your feelings.
Therapists usually use Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Interpersonal Therapy to address depression. Therapy can help you look at your negative thoughts and how is it affecting your mood. During therapy, you can learn how to make positive changes in your life. This includes being optimistic that you can reach the goal you’ve been aiming for. There may be bumps along the way, but your therapist can help you get over that hurdle.
Do not let depression affect your brain health because this can be a risk of gaining more weight. Do not stress out if you do not see changes in the weighing scale because there are other things that you can try.
Schedule An Appointment With A Therapist
If you’re from Kentucky or Ohio, you can schedule an appointment with a counselor. Thanks to Telehealth Care Services of Kentucky Counseling Center (KCC), you can now talk to a therapist from the comfort of your home.