Losing weight and depression (+Understanding the relation)

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Page last updated: 15/04/2022

This article will explain why having weight changes, and specifically losing weight, can happen when a person is depressed. For that, the article will explain what depression is and what it causes in a person’s organism.

Aside from that, the article will also highlight ways a person can improve their eating habits and weight, so it doesn’t become another health matter when people are depressed.

Is it normal to lose weight when depressed? 

Yes, people can lose weight when depressed. Although depression affects the person’s emotional condition, it can also have a great impact on the person’s physical health.

Aside from the sadness, loss of hope, and feeling empty that depression brings, it can also make people more susceptible to pains and headaches. They also have a decrease in their energy levels, sometimes stomach problems, and trouble sleeping.

The eating patterns of a person with depression also changes. They can start to feel hungrier than usual, and might eat emotionally. People might eat as a way to comfort themselves, it may also be a way to not feel so sad or empty. In those cases, people usually tend to gain weight because of depression.

For other people, depression can decrease the amount of food they eat. Which can cause them to feel even less energetic, causing it harder to deal with depression. There might be some reasons as to why people start to eat less when depressed. Let’s discuss why this happens.

Why does depression cause people to eat less?

Depression affects a person’s life in many ways when the person’s eating pattern changes. In some cases, the person may start to eat more, but in others, people can eat less, causing them to lose weight.

There are some reasons why people start to lose weight. It can be that you loved to cook, and like many interests that are lost during the depression, you no longer feel the joy for it or don’t have the energy for it as well. If that is the case, you can start to lose weight.

It can also be that you lost the pleasure you felt in eating. It is a known fact that eating is part of many social and pleasurable experiences. But if a person is depressed, that might not make sense anymore, causing you to even miss meals. 

It might also be hard for you to decide what to eat, and because you are unable to choose what to eat, you can get irritated and not eat together. Some physical symptoms of depression can also play a role. Since people with depression can feel stomach pains or the medication can cause them to feel nausea, eating can be harder.

It may also be that they don’t have the energy to prepare a meal, and because of that, can eat less, or not eat at all. Another aspect of eating less when depressed is the person’s brain function.

According to a study published in 2016, people that have a decrease in their appetite tend to have less brain activity in the area of the brain that is responsible to help a person understand their body’s needs, such as thirst or hunger. Which can indicate why some people might not feel the need to eat when depressed.

But there are some ways a person with depression can try to overcome this situation. Let’s learn a few ways people can do that.

How can I improve my eating when depressed?

When a person is dealing with the loss of appetite because of depression, there might be some things they can do to not cause problems to their organism. The first thing is to try, when you eat, to have nutritious food. Since you won’t eat as much, try to make the meals you do have the most nutrients possible.

It is also important to try and love the body you have at the moment. Although depression leaves people with low self-esteem, being aware you are doing the best for your body and mind is important.

Try to focus on small changes, this means that, even though depression might make it hard for you to have the energy to cook every day, try to set a day when you will cook food for a couple of days, so you have some nutritious food available for you.

You can also leave your fridge and pantry full of healthy snacks you can just grab when you feel you don’t have the energy to cook, you can have those. It might also be a good idea to talk to friends and family members and see who is available to help you.

They might do the grocery shopping for you, or bring you a nice home-cooked meal from time to time, they might also help you by having meals with you, this will not let you skip them, or remind you when it is time to eat.

Exercising can also be a good way to deal with weight loss, and although people may find it strange because the first thing they will think is that this will make you lose even more weight. Working out can improve how energetic you feel, can make your appetite better, and even make cooking a little easier.

If you tried those strategies and still don’t feel like your eating patterns are improving, and you keep losing weight, it might be time to look for professional help, such as a nutritionist. They might help you think of better ways to have food in your life and make it possible for you to stop losing weight.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ): Is it common to lose weight when depressed?

Why do people lose weight when they are stressed? 

Stress can cause many emotional and physical effects in a person’s life, even weight loss. This might happen for many reasons. It could be that the person under stress starts to develop many gastrointestinal problems, such as reflux, gas, bloating, nausea, or abdominal pain. 

This happens because stress affects the communication between the brain and gastrointestinal system. It might also cause inflammation of the body, this can happen because of stress and bad eating habits, which affect how the gut processes and metabolizes the food.

It can also trigger your body’s fight or flight system. This agitation the body will experience causes it to burn more calories, and it can also change how the body digests the food. When a person is stressed they also have a higher level of cortisol in their bodies, which can cause issues in a person’s metabolism. 

What are the causes for rapid weight loss?

There can be many causes to losing weight quickly. If a person is not on a diet or hasn’t started to work out to lose weight, it might be important to look for professional help to investigate what is going on. 

Usually, quick weight loss can be related to Addison’s disease, some types of cancer, it can also be related to consumption of alcohol or drugs, some dental problems, dementia, diabetes, or HIV/Aids.

Other conditions that can cause a person to lose weight, such as:

  • Amyloidosis
  • Celiac disease
  • Change in sense of taste and smell
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Dental problems
  • Heart failure
  • Hypercalcemia
  • Hyper and hypothyroidism
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Peptic ulcer
  • Tuberculosis
  • Ulcerative colitis

When should I get worried about my weight loss? 

A person should start to worry about their weight loss if it is continuous and persistent even without them trying to lose weight. As said before, when this happens it might be a sign of an underlying medical condition.

Medical specialists say that if a person loses more than 5% of their body weight in around 6 months, they should look for a professional to investigate it. A person’s weight is affected by how many calories you take, meaning how much calorie is in the food you eat in a day; and how many calories you spend. 

Just by breathing a person consumes calories. But if they have an active lifestyle and work out, that is even higher. But if you are losing weight without any changes to your calorie intake and consumption, it is important to investigate what is going on.

How can I stop losing weight?

If a person wants to stop losing weight, and they are considering there is no health issue going on, they should, at first, raise their calorie intake. But that is not saying you should eat a lot of junk food, but rather look for nutritious food that has a higher calorie count. 

Put in more snacks during your day. When people want to raise their calorie intake, it might be hard to just eat a lot in one meal, so spread your calorie intake during the day. For that, it might be a good idea to look for a nutritionist to help you set a healthy eating schedule.

If you work out, try to reduce your cardio exercises so you won’t burn that many calories, and try to do more strength training. This can make you gain more muscles, which will not make your weight get lower. And finally try to find ways to reduce stress, since it can be something that will make you lose weight.

Can drinking water make me lose weight?

Yes, drinking water can help you lose weight. It will increase how many calories you burn when at rest. Studies even say that when you drink cold water your body spends more calories to turn the water warm.

Aside from that, drinking water can reduce your appetite because it will make you feel more satisfied, and when you start your meal, you will notice that you will eat a lot less.

So water is beneficial for losing weight but also for a healthy body. If you are considering dieting, get in touch with a nutritionist that can help you think about your diet and how your water intake might be beneficial to reaching your goals.

Conclusion

This article discussed how depression affects not only the person’s mood, but it might also affect them physically, causing them to lose weight. To enlighten that, the article explained how depression works and what are ways a person can find to improve their eating habits.

If you have any questions or comments about this article, feel free to write it in the section below.

References

https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/weight-loss-depression

Simmons WK, Burrows K, Avery JA, Kerr KL, Bodurka J, Savage CR, Drevets WC. Depression-related increases and decreases in appetite reveal dissociable patterns of aberrant activity in reward and interoceptive neurocircuitry. Am J Psychiatry. 2016 Apr 1; 173(4):418-428.