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Natural Remedies and General Health

Depression and Weight Gain are Related


The link between depression and weight has repeatedly evidenced through a number of medical studies over a period of several years. Whilst many studies established a link the relationship between the two conditions remained elusive. Does depression cause obesity or does obesity lead to depression?

Either is equally plausible. It is easy to see how someone suffering depression may develop unhealthy eating habbits and engage in so called “comfort eating”. Equally one could see how being obese could contribute to depression due to lower self esteem and poor self image.

In 2010 a study was conducted to try and establish the relationship between depression and obesity the results of which were interesting as they found both cases to be true, that being obesity leads to depression and vice versa, depression leads to obesity.

Conclusions  This meta-analysis confirms a reciprocal link between depression and obesity. Obesity was found to increase the risk of depression, most pronounced among Americans and for clinically diagnosed depression. In addition, depression was found to be predictive of developing obesity. (http://archpsyc.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=210608)

So, the relationship is actually reciprochal, depression and obesity are closely related and feed back into one another.

Another interesting point is that this research seems to answer another question which is “which comes first”. Previously this has been described as a chicken and egg situation, however the excerpt above indicates this is not the case clearly stating that “Obesitywas found to increase the risk of depression” and “depression was found to be predictive of developing obesity”.

Furthermore the study found that “depression is associated with an 18% increased risk of being obese” but the mechanisms for linking the two conditions remain elusive bu the study did summise (as we did above) that depression leads to unhealthy lifestyles / lack of motivation and obesity could lead to depression as a consequence of negative self image or somatic consequences.

We mentioned “comfort eating” (also referred to as emotional eating) earlier a term we thought readers would understand and relate to, however this is also a medically proven phenominan which is related to the depression / obesity link which is that certain foods (high in sugar or fat) can make you feel better temporarily. This can drive you to eat more, particularly if you are suffering depression. This can lead to weight gain which makes you feel bad about yourself, and you again turn to food for “comfort”. A vicious cycle that can be very hard to break, and one which can in fact escalate very quickly.

This issue is compounded by the fact depression leads to lack of motivation so suffers are often less physically active.

Anohter factor is that anti depressants can also cause weight gain as a side effect.

Breaking the Cycle

A title like “breaking the cycle” to a point trivialises the issue. Dealing with either depression or obesity is very difficult, trying to deal with both issues at the same time is a daunting experience, however, just as the two conditions have a causal relationship, so there is a level of synergy in their treatment particularly when it comes to exercise. Following this improvements to diet can also be beneficial to both conditions, both in terms of what is eaten but also from the point of view of remaining active and engaged in ones own self care.

Of course simply exercising and eating better will not solve issues of depression and these form only part of a wider set of treatments offered to sufferers which are beyond the scope of this post. What interests us is the relationship not only in the causal effects but also in the treatment, and how the two key elements of healthy eating and exercise impact psychological conditions as well as physical ones.

Another interesting synergy in terms of treatments lies in serotonin boosting supplements such as 5-HTP and Saffron Extract which are natural remedies often used as an aid to weight loss and remedy for depression, anxiety and insomnia.

Depression Can Also Lead to Weight Loss

Although the link between depression and weight gain is well established, it is also worth noting there is also a relationship between depression and weight loss and most dangerously depresson has been linked to anorexia, bulimia and other eating disorders.


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