In this comprehensive overview, we will be answering the question: can depression cause weight loss?
Can depression cause weight loss?
Depression could cause weight loss as they go together and affects each other. While some people gain weight, others lose weight, when diagnosed with depression. Depressed people tend to gain weight faster than those who are not diagnosed with depression.
Depression and weight
Depression and weight are similar to the chicken and egg phenomenon. However, depression comes with certain symptoms that could lead to weight gain and obesity. They are as follows:
- Disruptions in appetite
- Lack of energy
- Lack of motivation.
Whatsoever, depression and weight gain are not known to be a healthy combination when they occur together or one after the other.
The bingeing cycle
Sometimes, people suffering from depression might consume food products or eatables that are high in sugar/fat content. This gives them temporary relief from the blues. However, that relief lasts only for a short period and gradually this turns into a vicious cycle that cannot be controlled.
The good feeling you gain through binge eating makes you want to eat more and this in turn makes you feel more guilty about yourself. Hence, it leads to greater depression, increased binge eating, and an excessive amount of weight gain.
When you are diagnosed with depression, you may exhibit symptoms of excessive lethargy, emotional bluntness, and lack of interest in food. All these symptoms will contribute to your uncaring attitude towards your diet and the timing of food intake. This will directly affect your weight.
Antidepressants and weight gain
Researches and studies have stated that certain types of medications that are used to treat depression could cause weight gain for those consuming it. It is believed that tricyclic antidepressants cause a person’s appetite to increase and in turn, this leads to weight gain.
It has also been observed that certain newer antidepressants such as serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) affect your weight.
Though a proper relationship has not been established between depression and weight gain, there exist specific biological causes that link depression and weight gain. Depression and weight gain are interconnected. That is, a person who is depressed has an increased risk of becoming obese and vice versa.
Certain people suffering from depression seem to possess elevated levels of cortisol in their body which will result in weight gain. This is because cortisol is a stress-inducing hormone.
Another explanation suggests that the sympathetic nervous system, which is increasingly active in depressed persons and which regulates metabolism is to be blamed.
Several behavioral reasons explain why depression could contribute to weight gain. Some of them are as follows:
Lack of motivation
A person who is depressed will lack the motivation to do anything and will be, at most times, tired and lethargic. This causes the body to become inactive and leads to the accumulation of excessive fat.
Lack of exercise
The general lack of interest and self-driven behaviors will naturally cause a decline in the amount of exercise one does to keep their body healthy. This inevitably will lead to weight gain over time.
People who are depressed are more prone to seek solace in food items that are high in sugar and fat content. This can cause a modest amount of weight gain.
Social factors and physical problems
There are social contributors as well, along with physical problems that are by-products of depression which results invariably in weight gain. Some of the are as follows:
- Poor self-esteem
- Weight-related health problems
- Lack of socialization
- Emotional disturbances
Stress as a factor
Stress plays a crucial role, both in depression as well as obesity. Chronic stress and anxiety lead to depression. Likewise, stress also causes people to seek comfort in unhealthy food
Which will result in excessive pounds and eventually obesity.
In adolescents, stressful events such as weight-based bullying and teasing play a major role in bringing about depression.
Other risk factors
Depression and weight gain can contribute or pave the way for several other related issues. They are as follows:
- Chronic pain
- Sleep problems
- Coronary heart disease
CARBS refers to carbohydrate associated reversible brain syndrome which is a form of food-induced brain dysfunction that occurs in those who are depressed with increased appetite and weight gain. It mostly emerges due to the consumption of processed food.
Cortisol induced sugar cravings
Sugar or sugar-induced food items is what we reach out for when most of us are stressed. This is because we think sugar supplies the quick dose of energy we need when stressed out or during a typical burnout.
The bad news here is that consuming an excessive amount of sugar gets stored in your body, in particular following stressful situations. This energy is mainly stored as abdominal fat and this type of fat is rather difficult to shed. This leads to a vicious cycle.
When you get stressed you release cortisol, gain weight, crave more sugar, consume more amounts of sugar, and gain further weight.
Stress-induced unhealthy eating habits
Stress can drive you to engage in certain unhealthy behaviors that lead to a severe gain of weight. They are as given below:
Increased levels of cortisol lead to an increased craving for unhealthy food. You will mostly end up eating more than required and will observe that it provides temporary relief. However, this makes healthy weight management difficult.
Eating junk food
When you are stressed out you don’t care to create the mental energy and space to cook a meal. Instead, you will reach out to the food that is readily available which will be mostly processed or junk food. Though these are easily available and consumable, these are not the healthiest options out there.
During a stressful situation, you tend to skip meals or resort to unhealthy meals. This gradually might become a routine which will adversely affect your digestive system and also cause uncontrollable weight gain after a point of time.
Ways to deal with depression-induced weight gain.
There are several proven and verified ways to deal with weight gain. They are as follows:
- Exercise and more exercise! For those suffering from depression and weight gain as a consequence, one of the best and safest way out is healthy and sufficient burnout for the body. It helps in counterbalancing drug-related weight.
- Take regular, planned outbreaks from fast food and unhealthy eating habits.
- Mindfulness of your eating habits involves being aware of what are you eating and the quantity. The way you are eating also matters.
- A comprehensive and flexible plan including therapy and an appropriate diet plan.
- Regular discussions with your health practitioner and inclusion of cognitive behavioral therapy can also work wonders.
- Control or stop the intake of antidepressants after prior consultation with the concerned doctor or health care provider.
- Drink lots of water. Do not confuse thirst with hunger. Drinking a sufficient amount of water will eliminate any form of mild dehydration. If there exists only a couple of hours between your two meals, try to drink some liquid or eat light fruits. If hunger persists, then you may grab a snack.
- Make sure you invest your time and effort in finding out and indulging in stress relievers that work for you. It could be anything from yoga, laughter clubs, Zumba dance to having a casual chat with your close friend, or going for a shot solo trip!.
- Gradually and mindfully working on your intrinsic motivation to deal with your blue mood will help you move forward and get unstuck, eventually.
- As much as possible, try to avoid dietary supplements and such related claims made by certain company advertisements and publications. These claims carry no validity as none of the reviewed medical journals have been to point out the authenticity of these supplements so far.
In this comprehensive overview, we answered the question: can depression cause weight loss?.
We examined the relationship between depression and weight gain, the causal factors, and ways to deal with weight gain due to depression.
Side Note: I have tried and tested various products and services to help with my anxiety and depression. See my top recommendations here, as well as a full list of all products and services our team has tested for various mental health conditions and general wellness.
FAQs: can depression cause weight loss?
Does being sad make you gain weight?
Yes. you may or may not go through weight gain/loss if you suffer from depression, anxiety, or chronic stress due to the side effects of the medications if you’re taking any or due to other psychological factors. It could also arise due to overeating, poor diet choices, and a sedentary lifestyle.
Can depression cause weight loss even when eating?
You could suffer from weight loss when depressed because of a general loss of interest that occurs as a symptom of depression. This could lead to loss of appetite which will make you eat less and disturb your usual meal patterns.
Is overeating a symptom of depression?
Yes. overeating can be a symptom of depression because the effects of a high-fat diet overlap with the side effects of chronic stress and this, in turn, causes depression together. This is the reason why overeating, especially high-fat low nutrient food items that people tend to binge on, causes depression.
Is overeating a sign of anxiety?
People tend to overeat when they are anxious as it provides them temporary relief from their enduring stress and worry. Stressed out people especially tend to indulge in junk food items when they are tired, angry, worn out, and extremely stressed. These food items turn out to be their ‘comfort food’.
What food reduces anxiety?
Certain types of food help in managing anxiety. Food naturally rich in magnesium, for instance, helps in making an anxious person feel way calmer. These include leafy greens such as spinach and swiss chard. Others include legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.
Food items rich in zinc such, such as oysters, cashews, liver, beef, and egg yolks are also known to reduce anxiety.
What drinks help anxiety?
There are 7 types of drinks that help in reducing symptoms of anxiety. They are as follows:
Valerian root tea- this is effective because of its soothing effects that help in improving the quality of your sleep.
Anti-anxiety smoothie- these smoothies are rich in ingredients that help in reducing the impact of stress on you. Examples are avocado, cocoa, chia seeds, and almonds.
Oat straw drink- Avena sativa is the main source of oat straw. This ingredient is widely known for its healthy impact on brain functioning.
Fresh fruit and vegetable juices- these fruits and vegetables contain a sufficient amount of nutrients that are a great remedy for anxiety.
Water- drinking water helps to manage stress as its consumption releases endorphins throughout the body.
Tart cherry juice- this juice helps in the reduction of inflammation which causes arthritis and heart disease. It also lowers cholesterol levels and improves the quality of sleep. This in turn will help in managing your level of anxiety.
Green tea- helps in soothing down your bodily processes and makes you feel calmer mentally.
What we recommend for depression
If you are suffering from depression then ongoing professional counselling may be your ideal first point of call. Counselling will utilize theories such as Cognitive behavioural therapy which will help you live a more fulfilling life.