Does Obesity Cause Depression? Or Vise Versa?

Does Obesity Cause DepressionDoes obesity cause depression, or does depression cause obesity? The jury is still out on whether one is caused by the other. But for sure, the symptoms align. You will find a lot of obese people that are depressed. And you will find a lot of depressed people who are also obese.

I suffer from both, as a plus size woman. I would say that I had the depression first before I became obese. You can see my story here.

I wanted to dig a little into both conditions, as they go hand in hand, especially in my life, and with everyone I know who are both depressed and obese. I also wanted to help educate those who have neither condition, so that they can help us. Here is what I came up with.

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What is Depression?

Depression is a state of low mood and aversion to activity. It can affect a person’s thoughts, behavior, motivation, feelings, and sense of well-being. It may feature sadness, difficulty in thinking and concentration and a significant increase/decrease in appetite and time spent sleeping, and people experiencing depression may have feelings of dejection, hopelessness and, sometimes, suicidal thoughts. It can either be short term or long term. it is a normal temporary reaction to life events, such as the loss of a loved one; and it is also a symptom of some physical diseases and a side effect of some drugs and medical treatments.  This is from Wikipedia.

Does Obesity Cause DepressionWhat is Obesity?

Obesity is a medical condition in which excess body fat has accumulated to an extent that it may have a negative effect on health. People are generally considered obese when their body mass index (BMI), a measurement obtained by dividing a person’s weight by the square of the person’s height, is over 30. Obesity increases the likelihood of various diseases and conditions, particularly cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, obstructive sleep apnea, certain types of cancer, osteoarthritis, and depression.  This is from Wikipedia.

How Do They Relate to Each Other?

Brain chemicals involved in both mood and weight gain often overlap. Hormones for weight metabolism and depression, including stress hormones, might be at play. These hormones, including cortisol, the so-called stress hormone, and leptin, which regulates body fat storage, may be doing double duty.

Another area of interest is inflammation. There is evidence that obesity and high-fat diets are related to the activation of inflammation pathways, and they are relevant to depression. Brain regions that regulate appetite overlap with regions that regulate mood. Still another possibility is the role of the microbiome, the bacteria in the gut, which is also involved in weight regulation and mood. This is from USNews

Does Obesity Cause DepressionSymptoms to Watch For

Here are the symptoms of depression:

  • Prolonged sadness or unexplained crying spells
  • Significant changes in appetite and sleep patterns
  • Irritability, anger, worry, agitation, anxiety
  • Pessimism, indifference
  • Loss of energy, persistent lethargy
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness
  • Inability to concentrate, indecisiveness
  • Inability to take pleasure in former interests, social withdrawal
  • Unexplained aches and pains
  • Recurring thoughts of death or suicide

Symptoms of Obesity

  • breathlessness.
  • increased sweating.
  • snoring.
  • inability to cope with sudden physical activity.
  • feeling very tired every day.
  • back and joint pains.
  • low confidence and self-esteem.
  • feeling isolated.

Does Obesity Cause DepressionWhat You Can Do For Others

  • Walk a mile in their shoes. Imagine how you would feel if you were obese.
  • Understand that obesity is a medical condition
  • Understand the stigmas that obese people live under.
  • Complement people on their looks and other positive attributes. Tell her she has a pretty face. Tell her you like her dress. Tell her how smart or how friendly she is. And most of all, tell her how much you value her friendship or her contribution.
  • Reward your employees or give gifts that aren’t food.
  • Serve healthy snacks, but don’t comment on them. It’s just food, and you don’t have to tell everyone whether it’s healthy or not.
  • Don’t talk about weight loss or offer advice. Believe me, we have heard about every diet and exercise plan there is because we have tried them all. An obese person definitely does not need to be told what she is “doing wrong.” by a skinny person. I’m sure your advice is well-meaning, but please understand that it makes things worse, not better.
  • Instead of sitting and talking, organize a walk, hike, or other physical activity. But don’t comment on it. Just say, “Lets go for a walk. I need to get up and get moving.” We don’t need any commentary on how “good” a walk is, or how “bad” sitting around is.
  • If you go shopping together, don’t go clothing shopping. Shop accessories, jewelry, or shoes. Or look for craft or decorating ideas for your homes. Shop for something that does not involve self-image. And don’t comment on it! We obese girls don’t want attention called to our “flaws” and we certainly don’t want pitty.
  • Be real. Not fake. And just be nice!

Does Obesity Cause DepressionWhat You Can Do For Yourself

  • First and foremost, visit your doctor if you feel you are depressed or feel you are having weight issues.
  • Give yourself a break. Don’t be hard on yourself. This happens to EVERYONE whether they like to admit it or not. Everyone has an issue with their weight, or their looks, or their social awkwardness, or their clothing, or their lifestyle. You are not the only self-concious one. You are a human, doing what humans do.
  • Set some boundaries. Telling people NO can be very liberating. Unless it’s your boss and you’re at work, you don’t have to do everything that is handed to you. And even at work, saying NO can be one of the best things you can do for yourself. Don’t be the punching bag, or the one that everyone dumps the unsavory tasks on. You have a life too, and shouldn’t force yourself to do all the thankless work others refuse to do.
  • Practice GREAT self care. Eat right, exercise, get good sleep, and plenty of down time if you need it
  • Change your negative self talk into positive self talk by repeating mantras, such as my favorite from the movie, The Help,  “You is Kind, You is Smart, You is Important!”
  • Protect your self care time with all you’ve got. Do not skip your exercise routine. Sit down for meals, and put away the electronics. Be religious about your bed time.

Does Obesity Cause DepressionIn Conclusion

It is still unclear if obesity causes depression or if depression causes obesity. They are so incredibly linked together, that I’m not sure the experts can sort it out. But it really doesn’t matter which causes which. The point is, we all have weight issues, and we all have depression from time to time. It is nothing to be ashamed about and there is nothing wrong with getting help when you feel overwhelmed with either condition. Be kind to yourself and be kind to others who may have the same issues as you. And work together so that no one feels left out or awkward.



Thanks for reading and please put your comments and questions below.

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  1. Adyns68

    I really wish everybody can get to read your post, it is very inspiring and very informative. I like the fact that you explained the scientific co-relation between obesity and depression. Because, I was among the people who thought that obese people were depressed only because of the society. 

    But here I understand that, the society just makes it worse because they are already fragile. So, we the society should read this post and understand that we can help them feel better, just by being kind and truly friendly.

    Thanks for sharing.

    • RhondaLeigh

      Thank you so much for your comments!  Yes, I agree that everyone should read and understand the plight of the obese person, and that their assumptions about the obese person are usually wrong.  So, yes, I’m trying to get this message across, even if it’s one person at a time!  Anyway thanks again for visiting and reading and commenting!  RhondaLeigh

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