Do you still believe that being overweight is just a matter of size?
The increase of depression in overweight patients is a growing concern in the medical and scientific community. Understanding the relationship between your weight gain and your mental health is crucial to address these problems effectively and to ensure that you can find a solution to be happy inside and outside.
Although the main focus of most diets is usually on the physical aspects, the relationship between being overweight and mental health is well documented in research studies. That’s why it’s important to take into account your mental wellbeing when trying to lose weight in a healthy way.
What is the situation worldwide?
Mental health disorders linked to excess body mass are public health problems that affect millions of people worldwide. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 1.9 billion adults are overweight worldwide, and of these, more than 650 million are obese. At the same time, mental health disorders triggered by weight gain, such as depression and anxiety, affect more than 300 million people worldwide.
Weight gain and depression: a scientific explanation
A study published in 2022 suggests that overweight and obese patients are often also found with:
- anxiety and depression
- poor self-image
- low self-esteem
- general lack of happiness
- poorer physical health overall.
Society has a lot to do with it. Discrimination and social stigmas can greatly affect a person’s self-esteem and body image in a negative way.
But it’s not just the eyes of society that are to blame. Being overweight often leads to a more sedentary lifestyle and reduced exercise which limits the release of dopamine in the brain. Also, excessive weight and obesity sometimes results in self-exclusion from social events leading to some degree of isolation.
To all of the above we have to add other day-to-day difficulties that can generate additional stress, such as finding suitable clothing or mobility problems, all of which can lead to greater anxiety and depression.
But which comes first, the weight gain or the depression?
It’s actually a two-way street. While one might think weight gain is what causes the depression, it’s often the other way around.
Depression and anxiety can contribute to weight gain and/or difficulty losing weight. People who suffer from depression often resort to comfort food as a way to cope with negative emotions, finding themselves with a weight problem within a few months or years of the start of their disease.
Depression can also affect motivation and the ability to lead an active lifestyle. Lack of energy, loss of interest in physical activities, and neglect of basic needs can all contribute to rapid weight gain.
Of course, it’s just as common for depression to emerge due to excessive weight gain. Society often links beauty with slim, low BMI bodies and not seeing that image reflected in the mirror can lead to lack of confidence and depression. Furthermore, an perceived inability to lose weight can generate frustration, leading to stress and anxiety.
The relationship between weight gain and depression is complex, and it is important to address the issue as a whole. Self-hypnosis can help you cope with negative emotions without resorting to chocolate and ice cream, giving you the tools to deal with comfort eating. By practicing self-hypnosis daily you will gain self-esteem and motivation, by using positive affirmations and visualizing your goals. You will understand the initial cause of your weight gain, and connect your body with your brain, creating new neural pathways that will forever change your relationship with food.