Risk of Depression with Obesity

Risk-of-Depression-with-ObePeople who are overweight or obese are about 25 percent more likely to struggle with depression compared to someone of healthy weight.

Depression is a mood disorder that develops as a result of a chemical imbalance in the brain. It causes chronic feelings of helplessness, despair and unhappiness that will commonly disrupt quality of life, interfering with your ability to engage in simple, everyday tasks.

It is common to feel down from time to time, but depressive disorder is different. Depressed feelings may develop as a result of stress or grief, but when someone struggles with depression, the mood disturbance cannot be neatly tied to a singular cause. Depression is also chronic; meaning the feelings of despair will last for several weeks or longer.

Depression is diagnosed when at least five symptoms are present simultaneously:

  • Diminishing interest in activities that were once pleasurable
  • Lack of sexual desire / interest
  • Insomnia
  • Excessive fatigue
  • Suicidal ideations
  • Chronic restlessness
  • Significant changes in weight, including weight loss or gain
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Inability to concentrate

Obesity and Depression

The connection between obesity and depression is often difficult to understand. Unlike some obesity-related diseases in which being overweight increases your risk of developing a certain illness; depression and obesity influence each other equally. Having one condition can increase your risk of experiencing the other, and vice versa.

There are certain factors that can increase your risk of developing both obesity and depression. They include:

  • Low self esteem
  • Lower socioeconomic status
  • Social isolation

Using food to ease emotional pain can cause someone with depression to gain weight, while being overweight may lead to growing stress and emotional turmoil that can cause depression.

Treatment Options

Treating depression during medical weight loss can lead to greater success with long-term weight management. Depression is treated through a combination of mental health counseling and medical intervention.

Treatment options include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), also called “talk therapy”
  • Anti-depressant medications
  • Lifestyle changes including improved diet and exercise habits

Many people assume that losing weight will improve their happiness, and that feelings of negative self-esteem or hopelessness will diminish as they lose weight. Unfortunately, when these negative feelings have existed for many years, simply losing weight will not resolve them. Addressing any underlying mental health concerns that may have contributed to weight gain in the past will encourage more successful weight management following medical weight loss.