Are obesity and mental health issues related?

January 30, 2023 by Clelia Lima0

First of all, IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT! If you are dealing with obesity and or mental health issues believe it’s not your fault as these are complex challenges.

Let’s look at the question: Are obesity and mental health issues related?

The National Institute of Health has published studies linking obesity with depression, and other psychological issues.

Each person is unique in their physical and mental status. The effect of genes and environmental factors plays a role in both. Some genes are linked to cortisol response to stress which has metabolic effects on mental illness and tendency to obesity. Genetic research will continue to provide more understanding on this topic.

Some examples on how mental health issues increase your risk of obesity:

  • Chronic stress may lead you to use food as a way to cope, usually making poor choices of food.
  • Serotonin deficiency is linked with depression, anxiety, sleep problems, and carbohydrate cravings.
  • Depression and lack the energy are often found together. So, your motivation to be active and exercise may be low or absent.

Weight discrimination may affect your self-esteem and cause poor body image.

Some people tend to think that weight discrimination or “fat shaming” will motivate you to lose weight. It’s actually the opposite. This behavior triggers stress, lack of self-control, and overeating.

The most effective approach to weight loss is to stop focusing on weight loss and change the focus to improving overall health. Small and easy habit changes can have significant benefit for weight control. Just maintaining the weight, not gaining weight, is already a good start, then lose it little by little. Whatever approach you use, it has to be simple and easy to be sustainable for the long run. Obesity is a serious chronic disease. But the good news is that it’s treatable.

Mental health is vital for your overall health.

Self-care is one of the best ways to keep a good mental health. Take care of your own needs first. You can only give what you have. To be available to others you need to be well within yourself. Invest your time in connecting with people who bring you joy.

If you are in crisis or have any thoughts of hurting yourself or others, please seek help immediately or call 911.

Mental health and obesity are treatable conditions, but discrimination and stigmatization may be a barrier to treatment. Don’t let them stop you from reaching out for help.

Obesity and mental health issues increased during the COVID pandemic.

Several studies published in 2021 showed that almost half of Americans gained weight during the pandemic quarantine. Some reasons were stress related and sedentary lifestyle. Studies have also shown a significant increase of U.S. adults with symptoms of anxiety and depression during the pandemic.

There is not enough evidence to show if one causes the other, but research has shown that obesity and mental health share some common causes and it’s necessary to treat both for better results. Seek professional advice. You don’t have to deal with this alone.

Take care of your body and mind. Be good to yourself and connect with others. Talk to your healthcare provider if you need help.   

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