Depression and obesity are two health issues that are often connected. Though they may appear to be unrelated at first, there is a significant link between these two conditions. Here’s a closer look at the connection between depression and obesity.
Stress and Depression
One of the contributing factors to depression is stress, which can have a ripple effect on our bodies. Chronic high levels of the stress hormone cortisol can lead to abdominal fat buildup and insulin resistance. Going forward on an unhealthy lifestyle, overeating or consuming sugar and caffeine can also cause cortisol levels to spike, thereby perpetuating the cycle.
Lack of Motivation
Depression can lead to a lack of motivation, making it challenging for individuals to engage in healthy behaviors like exercising or cooking a healthy meal. When feeling down, people may reach for comfort foods, which are often excessively high in calories laden with salt, sugar, and fat. These simple carbohydrates do give us quick energy, but the satisfaction is temporary, leading to more cravings to keep that momentary high going.
People who struggle with depression or social anxiety may find it hard to interact with others in social scenarios such as going out to parties or going to the gym. This lack of social support and isolation can result in developing unhealthy habits to zone out, like binge-watching TV all day and eating fast-foods alone.
Genetics and Hormones
Some research provides strong evidence linking depression and obesity to genetics and hormones. Studies suggest that fat cells may be able to produce hormones that can cause changes in dopamine, serotonin, and other mood-regulating chemicals in the body. Additionally, an individual’s genetic predisposition can mean that they struggle to break down fats effectively, creating a predisposition to store energy and subsequently leading to obesity in the long run.
In summary, depression can lead to unhealthy lifestyle behaviors, including overeating and lack of physical activity, which are the primary drivers of obesity. The combination of these factors often creates a negative feedback loop, leading to further depression and weight gain. To tackle this unique challenge, it’s essential to consider these issues in a holistic manner that involves diet, exercise, and positive lifestyle changes. Awareness and support from loved ones, healthcare practitioners, and/or therapists can be of immense help in overcoming these symptoms effectively.