How Depression and Weight Gain are So Closely Interlinked

  • Usman 

By reading the title you might also be wondering how they are connected as depression affects the brain and weight gain is a physical thing. I?ll ask you something! What affects a person first, depression or weight gain?

This riddle has no solution as this is the same as ?the chicken and the egg? riddle. No body knows what came first. Depression is not only linked with weight gain but also with weight loss, and so are their symptoms.

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It is proven that obesity is the core of depression, so even if you are not depressed, by getting fat you will.There are about 58% chances of you getting depressed due to gaining weight. But what is so bad about being fat? The correct answer is nothing is wrong with being fat/obese. It’s just the society that thinks skeleton-skinny people are attractive, and who doesn’t want to be attractive.

The real reason why depression and weight gain are linked is that the limbic system that is a part of the brain, which is responsible for emotions, also controls food intake/appetite. This means that whenever this limbic system gets disturbed in people who are depressed, it leads to a disturbance in the appetite. Some lose their appetite, or some overeat.

?And even if you have weight management issues, you are bound to get stressed and stress and weigh gain link is well established. People who are obese mostly have common thoughts that lead to self-deprecation, like ?I don’t like the way I look?, ?these clothes don’t fit me as they do to others? thinking patterns.

If you are someone with depression problems, then the medications given to you may also cause weight management issues.

Does depression cause weight gain?

Two things can happen when a person is depressed. They either lose weight or gain weight. In both scenarios, it’s not a healthy sign. This is because some people overeat in depression, similar to anxiety, while some lose their appetite and don’t even touch food until the stage of passing out. According to the CDC, about 43% of the population of depressed people is obese, and then there are people who get obsessed due to depression. 

All the above is the result of depression in adults, while children have a higher than normal BMI which is about 21-24. And it is found that children who have depression often get obese when they grow up.

Depression Influences Obesity

This is the fact of the day. The core of obesity is depression, and that’s the evil residing in one?s self. If you see a teenager that has depression, then it is likely that they are going to be obsese shortly, Even kids with depression end up being obese within the following years.

This is because they tend to imbalance their diet resulting in overeating or consumption of food that does not contain proper nutrients and then lack of exercise and sun. People who have low serotonin are likely to become obese if depressed. This is due to the low level of this hormone they overeat to restore serotonin?s normal level.

Stress Belly

If you ever passed through a chronic stress stage, or have seen people with prolonged stress, you might notice that they have a little extra weight right at their abdominal area. This is called stress belly. It forms due to prolonged stress or chronic stress and hence is bad for the body, health, and mind.

This belly is not caused by overeating or lack of exercise, but it is caused by the hormone cortisol or maybe because of genetics.

The Role Cortisol Plays

The hormone cortisol is secreted by the adrenal gland, which is needed by the body to control sugar levels of blood and metabolism. This hormone is also responsible for providing us with positive energy/motivation and helps us to stay tuned in on work. This hormone is also responsible for the fight or flight response in our body when combined with other hormones. How? I?ll explain!

?You see when there is a particular danger, our body senses it and then works accordingly. This hormone helps to reduce the unnecessary functions of the body so that our mind can focus only on the threat, and once the threat is gone, these hormone levels go back to normal.

But in some cases, the dangers or in this case stress doesn’t end even after there is no danger which leads to an elevation in this hormone. These raised levels also increase the blood pressure and blood sugar of the person to rise.?

Cortisol belly is not something you can neglect, as it is way more than it seems like. This is caused by stress and we all know how stress is a plague to our happiness. And if there is a prolonged stress period, then the adrenal gland produces more than the normal amount of cortisol which then fills the body of the person with sugar/glucose and gives it to their muscles to deal with the threat.

 Unless the threat passes, the production of this hormone continues and the more there is cortisol the worse it is for your health. The insulin is also produced to help release more energy for muscles that we immediately need for a stressful situation, without converting the glucose into fats.

Obesity Influences Depression

If you have any connection with obese people then you might have noticed that their moods change quicker than you could change your clothes. One moment they are happy, the next they are angry or something. This is called mood disorder and 25% of the obese people go through this.

All these are the symptoms of depression, and yes, they do get into depression. Obese people mostly have low self-esteem, poor self-image, and also isolation from everything and everyone, which are the major contributors to depression. This extra weight can tire them quicker, and gives body and joint pain more than the normal person goes through.

Obese people are most likely to have diabetes and in most cases hypertension too. Hence obesity influences depression. But some things can trigger both depression and obesity. They include social isolation, lack of exercise, and lower socioeconomic status.

Things to do if Weight Gain is Getting you Down

The majority of the teenagers during this pandemic have been a target of obesity and it is making them have jumbled up thoughts. They have emotional ups and downs randomly, but that doesn’t mean every single one of the obese people is depressed. Some might find this weight gain cute on themselves or they just don?t worry about it.

?      Self-Assessment

The reason why I said teens is because teenage is when we all worry about looking a certain way and fitting according to society’s beauty standards. For that, if they are obese then they are more likely to ?tend to loathe the way they look and end up having a serious depression case.

They feel a lot of things like anger, frustration, self-awareness, upset, and many more. And the thing is that they aren’t even aware of this, because if they were then they would have easily dealt with it in the early stage. Knowing emotion and its cause is the start of dealing with it.

?      Share Feelings

You can share your feelings with the people you know who love you and care for you and try asking them to give you hope and motivation and help you come out of depression. Hope is what is lacking in depressed people because they don’t have a listener who doesn’t judge them or gives them advice.

?      Write in a Journal

A lot of people cannot share their emotions with others, and if you are one of them then you can try writing them up in a journal to feel lighter, or draw something to divert your attention from negative thoughts.

Stop Gaining Weight during the Depression

If you don’t want to gain extra weight during the depression, then you need to do the following things. They are 100% sure to help you out.

?      Physical Exercise

As you know, both obesity and depression are linked so you need to tackle them both somehow which can prove to be harder than thought. If you don’t want to gain weight during or without depression, you need to do physical exercise, which is the first contributor to having a healthy body.

Taking proper rest also can help tremendously. Research has found strong linkage between sleep deprivation and overeating which eventually leads to weight gain and stress.

?      Eat for Nutrients

The thing you can do is whenever you are eating, don’t think of it as an outlet for depression. Instead think of it as a source of nutrients for your body, and keep in mind the type and time, and the way you are eating food.

?      Take slow steps

Whenever you are eating, don?t just chug down the food as it reduces the digestion rate, and your stomach has to work more to digest properly. Eat slowly and chew your food properly. On the other hand, if you want to reduce the intake of food, then take baby steps towards the contribution.

Don’t try to leave something randomly, and then crave for it, instead leave it slowly, bit by bit. By improving your digestion, you will give you body better chances of absorbing healthy nutrients, which will affect your overall health, including mental health.

?      Body Movement

One thing is that you need to keep your body moving. So you better leave your phone and start doing little warmups like starting from cleaning your room, then your house, and then start jogging. After that, you can start the gym so it doesn?t make you feel pressured to lose weight.

More movement will make you feel useful and also these small exercises throughout the day will keep your body producing happiness hormones. And happiness is the best antidote for depression

?      Check for Side effects of Medication

An important thing is that you keep an eye on the medications you are taking, ask your doctor if the medications you are taking for depression have any side effects on the weight or not. If yes, then you can ask your doctor for alternatives.

?      Consult a Dietitian

The last thing is that you consult a dietitian, make a proper diet and follow it regularly.

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Muhammad Usman

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