Depression and weight problems often go hand in hand, but it’s not always clear which comes first — weight problems or depression. For many people who struggle with depression, weight gain is a side effect that only exacerbates existing emotional struggles. For some, weight gain is a trigger for their depression.
A 2010 review of 15 studies published in the Archives of General Psychiatry shows a link between obesity and a greater risk of developing depression and vice versa. While we may not fully understand whether people gain weight because they are depressed or if they suffer depression due to weight gain, we know that many symptoms of depression can worsen obesity. Depression and obesity make for an unhealthy combination, one that is often self-reinforcing.
It’s a vicious cycle. People who are depressed often reach for junk foods that are high in sugar and/or fat, which can give a temporary high, making them only want to eat more. The more they eat, the worse they begin to feel about themselves, leading to an even deeper depression and increased weight gain.
Researchers at the University of Alabama Birmingham have also reported that people who are depressed tend to gain weight at a faster rate than people who aren’t depressed. Depressed people find it harder to get out of bed, are less motivated to exercise and pay less attention to what they are eating.
Exercise and a healthy diet are key in treating both obesity and depression, but for some, diet and exercise alone aren’t enough. For individuals affected by severe obesity, bariatric surgery may be the only effective treatment to combat obesity and maintain long-term weight loss.
Many of our patients come to us for weight loss surgery because they are ready to “feel happy again.” Are you ready? If you struggle with both depression and obesity, give us a call to find out how weight loss surgery may help you.