Depression and Weight: An Undeniable Connection

March 7, 2007 by  
Filed under DEPRESSION

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By Danna Schneider

There has been some recent press about the long speculated correlation between one’s weight and depression, or state of mind. Well, new studies are showing that overweight or obese people are significantly more prone to depression and mood disorders, which is contrary to the popular myth of the “fat and jolly” individual.

This newest study, which consisted of more than 9,000 adults of both male and female sex, found that obese individuals were approximately 25 percent more likely to suffer from depression than their slimmer counterparts.

Not only that, but contrary to earlier theories that obese women may have been more prone to depression than overweight men, the newest findings show that both men and women suffering weight problems are equally as likely to battle depression. But the question still remains, why is depression more common in the obese segment of the population, and what are some of the theories as to why this is the case?

While these new studies provide almost irrefutable evidence that obesity is strongly linked to depression and other mood disorders, there are unfortunately no definite answers as to why exactly this is true. There are theories of course, and there are also many documented cases of patients who are obese or simply over a healthy weight standard that are also suffering from depression and mood swings.

I’m sure if you think about it, you may be able to come up with someone in your life who you can make this correlation with. It may even be you. As I previously mentioned, there are a number of theories as to why depression occurs so much more often in people who are obese or overweight. One common sense theory is the simple fact that an individual may feel inferior or out of control if they have lost control over their weight.

They may emotionally beat themselves up over and over because they view themselves as “fat”, which has a direct impact on their every day interactions with people, their self esteem, and therefore leads to depression and feelings of sadness, lethargy and hopelessness. This may seem the most obvious of all theories, and it is, but it nonetheless is a very valid theory.

Another theory, which has been discussed in numerous diet and health books is the link between depression and weight through blood sugar and other key chemicals in the body and the brain which can be upset by the presence of obesity and a poor diet. The blood sugar link is the one I believe is most likely to be true, as I know from a personal perspective for me, when my blood sugar is bottoming out, I am the last person you’d want to be around.

Not only am I unpleasant, but I start to have feelings of despair, anxiety and anger for no apparent reason. Then, once my blood sugar is regulated again through means of “healthy” food, I’m back to my pleasant self, and those much-needed feelings of well being. This is not to discount other theories, as I think they all kind of work together. Weight and depression can become a vicious cycle for many of us.

When we’re thinner, we tend to feel better about ourselves, which produces more endorphins and feelings of happiness, which happens to also suppress our appetite, which in turn keeps us on the “thin track”, and vice versa. When we feel down or depressed, we may tend to overeat or binge on comfort foods as a temporary means of feeling good again, which in turn makes our weight balloon, which in turn makes us feel bad about our body image…. and so on and so forth.

You get the picture. Weight and depression in itself can become a vicious cycle, if we don’t learn to harness the power of our mind and take control of our bodies and our health. Not only will it lead to a more slender, heart healthy and longer-living you, but chances are, it will also lead to a much happier, mentally alert and content you. And that’s worth more than any size five jeans in my book.

Danna Schneider is the co-founder of the online magazine for weight loss and dieting, including diet and fitness product reviews and alternative ideas for weight management and mood management called Dieting Magazine : Weight Loss. You may also find valuable information on depression and natural remedies for correcting and avoiding depression here Herbal Remedies : Mood Enhancers.

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