Escaping The Depression-Obesity Cycle

September 11, 2017

Chronic depression is a sly condition. If you suffer from it, you probably can’t pinpoint when it first had you in its grip. It just crept up on you until you realized you needed to do something to lift the weight holding you down.


Obesity shares some of the same qualities. Over time you put on weight incrementally until one day you find yourself trapped in a body you don’t recognize and that may even cause physical pain.

The relationship between depression and obesity, unfortunately, does not end with how they develop. There is a persistent link between the two conditions. Both are chronic diseases that require long-term management, and each has a high correlation to the other. People who suffer from obesity are 55 percent more likely to be depressed, and 43 percent of people who suffer from depression also have obesity. In addition, you have a 58 percent increased chance of developing obesity if you have chronic depression.

There is also evidence that depression and obesity are bi-directional. That is, they reinforce one another. The more weight gain you experience, the more depression may set in. To alleviate those negative feelings, you may turn to unhealthy foods for momentary comfort, which then leads to more weight gain.

It is a pernicious cycle. Is there hope of escaping it? If so, how?

If you have been following CMWL for any period of time, you already know the answer to that question! We would never let you resign yourself to the belief that you can’t overcome challenges, no matter how difficult.

To help facilitate your progress, we believe that you don’t necessarily need to tackle both depression and your weight all at once. Of course, you should always consult your medical provider about which approach is best for you, but biting off more than you can chew at one time (no pun intended) typically does not set you up for success.

The third is since this is a weight loss blog, we believe that by focusing on how to achieve a healthy weight first, you will reap physical benefits that will naturally facilitate depression treatment. Many of the key behavioral best practices for weight reduction actually cross over into helping to relieve depression. In this way, the two conditions are linked positively.

  1. Eat foods that promote weight loss.

Most people get into trouble with their weight by consuming too many empty calories, mainly in the form of sugar and saturated (bad) fats. In addition to providing no benefit to your body, these types of foods and beverages also do zilch for your mood in the long-term (even if they give you a momentary immediate hit of euphoria). However, if you make some modifications to your food choices that favor weight loss, you can give your positive feelings a boost as well. For instance, foods high in Omega-3 fatty acids (the good fats) such as salmon, walnuts, and avocado, are known to help with weight loss by reducing inflammation and making you feel fuller for longer periods of time. It just so happens that Omega-3 is also known for improving brain function and elevating mood. So, to keep your goals simple, choose the foods for weight loss, but reap the emotional benefits as well.

  1. Get moving, once and for all.

If you suffer from both depression and obesity and do not make daily physical activity a habit, we strongly encourage you to revisit your priorities. Again, starting with a focus on weight loss, incorporating exercise or activity works as a natural metabolism enhancer. It improves the way your body manages the energy you consume as food, helping to burn calories and fat necessary for healthy weight management. If you do this, guess what? The activity also naturally increases your endorphins, leading to a more positive state of mind! Several studies have shown the strong link between exercise and mood improvements. So get your walking shoes on and get out on the trail to drop the pounds and lighten your mental load.

  1. Get more quality sleep.

Sleep is another critical yet often overlooked component to effective weight loss that also has crossover impact on your mood. Without enough quality sleep, your hormones can suffer imbalance, which then hinders your body’s ability to effectively manage your energy during the day. You also tend to eat more and move less after a night of poor sleep, which spells disaster for any weight loss effort. To restore the energy necessary for weight loss, make sure to set a consistent healthy sleep routine, which includes shutting down the TV and phone screens, turning down the lights, and avoiding food at least two hours before bedtime. This will help you get the rest you need to restore energy needed for best weight loss practices. It’s that same energy balance you need to take on the battle against depression as well. Again, focus on sleep as a weight loss tool first to keep it simple. As your energy experiences improved balance and you drop excess weight, you should find your outlook on life improve as well.

These are just a few ways that can help with your escape plan from the depression obesity cycle. The best and fastest approach to freedom may be to speak to a medical weight loss expert, who can develop a plan designed for your specific needs and help you stick with it. We’ll see you on the other side!


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