Scientists studying the link between obesity and depression have shown that depressed people are more likely to become obese and that obese people have an increased chance of developing depression. This is known as a bi-directional link, meaning that one condition increases the incidence of the other.
A study in 2010 showed that overweight people were 55% more likely to become depressed and depressed people were 58% more likely to become obese over time. It also showed that the link between obesity and depression was stronger amongst Americans.
Obesity is usually measured using the Body Mass Index (BMI), which is thought to be the most accurate way of measuring the fat levels of someone’s body. A person with a BMI of 30 or over is considered to be obese, with higher risk of a variety of diseases, including depression.
The reasons for this link are uncertain but researchers suggest that the cause is quite simple; obese people suffer from low self-esteem and hormone imbalances which can put an individual at an increased risk of depression; and depression can interfere with the endocrine system, which controls the release of hormones in the body. Some drugs used for depression also have a side effect of increased appetite and weight gain, contributing further to the link.
Whilst drugs are commonly prescribed for depression, many professionals believe that lifestyle changes can alleviate both depression and obesity. Becoming more active and taking regular exercise can help an individual lose weight, encourages hormone balance and triggers the release of neurotransmitters and endorphins, which may ease depression. Exercise also helps you to sleep better, which can be a symptom, and a cause of depression.
If you are obese you may feel low in yourself. Taking steps to improve your physical and mental condition can cure depression or prevent you from becoming depressed. But it can sometimes seem like an impossible task. Weight loss surgery can be a great first step on the road to health and happiness, giving you the boost you need to achieve your goals.