Is there a relationship between obesity and mental illness?
It is hard to determine whether it is obesity that is causing an increase in mental illness, or if it is mental illness that increases the risk of obesity.
It is essential to realize that feeling down, under the weather, sometimes is a normal part of life, and sadness happens to everybody. But, if you feel miserable and hopeless regularly, and it is affecting your daily activities, you could be dealing with depression. And it is ok! Depression is a prevalent medical condition that could be changing your lifestyle, habits, and as a consequence, your weight.
Some of the signs you should be aware of are:
- Mood: irritability
- Emotions: feeling sad or empty, anxious or hopeless
- Behaviour: loss of interest in activities, withdrawing from social engagements, thoughts of suicide
- Cognitive: thinking or talking more slowly
- Sleep: difficulty sleeping through the night, waking early, sleeping too much
- Physical: decreased energy, more significant fatigue, changes in appetite, weight changes, aches, pain, headaches, increased cramps
We believe that obesity usually leads to low self-esteem and depression, on the other hand the fact of suffering from anxiety and depression leads us to have a more sedentary lifestyle and a less healthy diet, resulting in weight gain. Yet we know that both problems can be treated by a health professional.
Having a mental illness is often stigmatized and the shame the patient feels can delay the treatment. In most cases, the gap from appearance of the first symptoms until the person seeks help from a mental health professional could be years. Disease that is not treated may result in much more serious consequences.
Treatment options must be personalized and most medications are highly useful to treat the diseases commonly associated with obesity, with a low index of side effects.
But medication is not the only option.
There are different types of psychotherapies for particular problems like neuromodulation technique and transcranial magnetic stimulation where an electromagnetic coil is placed on the scalp, near the forehead. The electromagnet emits magnetic pulses without causing pain that stimulate nerve cells in the brain region that controls mood and depression which activates brain regions that have decreased activity in depressed people.
According to the World Health Organization, one in four people currently have a mental illness, the most common being anxiety and depression.
Mental illness is widespread, and it is easily treatable, the biggest problem
is shame and stigma leading affected individuals to delay the actual treatment.
How do you know if your weight is giving you depression or if you have depression that is making you gain weight?
Obesity could be just a consequence of depression, and it is crucial to treat it before losing weight. The goal is to address the physical and emotional needs associated with each condition.
If you think you are suffering from depression or anxiety or you are overweight and having difficulty losing weight please consider setting up an appointment with one of our physicians. We are here to help.