Depression can lead to overeating and weight gain; obesity can lead to depression and an overwhelming sadness. Learn how to break the obesity-depression cycle.
Almost 10% of the American population is affected by depression every year. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), there are also over 70 million people suffering from obesity in the United States. New findings now indicate that there is more of a connection between obesity and depression than first thought, in fact, many people actually suffer from obesity and depression. This new finding has researchers asking, are people who suffer from depression become obese, or are people who are obese more likely to be depressed? In short how is obesity and depression related, and can preventing one condition prevent the other?
While there are many obesity-diabetes theories, medical experts are hoping to find a connection that allows for the treatment of obesity and the treatment of depression at the same time.
Looking at the research connecting obesity and depression, it is clear that there is not an easy, one size fits all answer. Research is demonstrating that obesity and depression tend to work in tandem, often influencing each other in a cyclical pattern over time.
How Does Obesity Cause Depression?
Looking at recent research, it is evident that people who suffer from obesity are nearly 25% more likely to be afflicted with depression or mood disorders when compared to non-obese subject. Some theorize that obesity contributes to depression by increasing the likelihood of poor self-image and low self-esteem – which are proven to increase incidence of depression. Others point to the physical toll obesity takes on the body as a reason for increased incidence of depression. The increased likelihood of diabetes, heart disease, inflammation, and metabolic syndrome have all been connected to depression and similar mood disorders.
Medical experts are also considering how the hormone levels of obese subjects influence the mental health of those suffering from depression and other anxiety disorders. Some research is raising question as to the profound influence obesity has on hormones that determine mental illness and well being.
How Does Depression Cause Obesity?
Much like the “which came first” argument, other medical research seems to indicate that depression causes obesity. In fact, teens who exhibit depression symptoms have a much greater chance of gain significant weight in the following year. Many factors contribute to the increase in obesity when depression is present, including poor diet and lack of motivation to exercise. This information not only provides important insight on depression, but also may help to better understand causes of childhood obesity.
One theory gaining traction again points to the role of hormones in obesity and depression. These findings include the fact that people who are suffer from clinical depression and have low serotonin levels are much more likely to become obese; often turning to food as a way to re-establish serotonin levels to healthy levels.
Researchers at Harvard University analyzed 15 long-term studies that followed nearly 60,000 people for nearly 30 years. Findings from Harvard indicate that people considered obese at the beginning of the study were over 50% more likely to develop depression over the course of the study.
Interestingly, people who were identified as depressed when the study started, where nearly 60% more likely to become obese over the course of the study.
While doctors have yet to identify an actual physical connection between obesity and depression, researchers are looking further into inflammation and hormonal changes as key causes that contribute to both obesity and depression. Perhaps an obesity depression test is on the horizon. Researchers are looking for the way to prevent the obesity depression cycle , improving the quality of life for those who needs support with depression and obesity help.
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