Both depression and obesity are on the rise – coincidence? These conditions are linked in many ways
06/14/2018 // Carol Anderson // Views

Depression and obesity are both alarming matters. Depression victimizes the mental health, while obesity damages the physical body. Imagine how it can ruin a person diagnosed with both.

Recent statistics showed a significant increase in the number of people suffering either from depression or obesity, and experts believe there is a link between the two. The two essentially share a cause-and-effect relationship; depression may lead to overeating, while being obese may lead to depression due to insecurities.

Psychiatrist Sue McElroy shared how many of her patients who were depressed were also overweight, leading her to think that there truly is a connection. "Many of my [depressed] patients were obese. And they were very upset by obesity," she said. "I looked into the literature, and it said there was no relationship. It didn’t make sense."

Meanwhile, Ingrid Donato, chief of mental health promotion at Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administrationsaid that it is impossible to tackle the problem of obesity in a person who's also struggling with depression without actually tackling the mental condition.

Here are some of the many links between depression and obesity:

  • Chronic stress – This can be anything that heightens the cortisol level of a person due to responses to the environment. Chronic stress can be caused by problems at home, issues at work, strained relationships, or other physical and emotional struggles.
  • Inflammation  Due to visceral fat that forms in the body, inflammation is triggered, and this increases the risk of developing mood disorders, diabetes, and heart disease. This also makes it harder to lose weight.
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  • Sedentary lifestyle – Obesity is caused by overeating and is made worse by inactivity. Aside from addressing the extra fats, regular exercise can help alleviate chronic stress, improve self-esteem, and attenuate a range of mental health problems from depression to Alzheimer’s.
  • Low-nutrient diet – An unhealthy eating habit is almost always the reason behind obesity, that's why it's important to observe a balanced diet. Moreover, a poor diet also triggers mental illnesses.
  • Lack of restful sleep – Since sleep is when the body and mind recuperate, not getting enough of it may result in depression and obesity. In addition, visceral fats put stress on the lungs making sleeping hard.
  • Lack of vitamin D and sunlight – It's been proven that vitamin D is beneficial to the mind's health. While this can be found in food, the best source of this vitamin is still sunlight.
  • Hormonal imbalance – Body fat is behind the creation of estrogen, the female sex hormone, and an excess of this can cause depression, weight gain, and insomnia.
  • Concurrent health condition – Many health conditions started out from being unhealthy and obese. For example, diabetes is caused by high-level intake of sugar. Suffering from conditions like this can actually lead to depression.
  • Poor self-image – Probably the most common link is having little belief in oneself. Having a low self-esteem can eat someone up, which may cause the person to turn to comfort-yet-unhealthy food. Those who are insecure can be more depressed.

The numbers continue to grow

Around 300 million people around the world are suffering from depression, and lifetime depression is at an all-time high. An increase in depressed generations has been seen, and 25 percent of the millennials are more likely to suffer from lifetime depression.

On the other hand, obesity rates in some countries are at 20-35 percent of the total population.

Get more insights on depression and other mental disorders by visiting today.

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