Overweight and obesity caused by anxiety, stress and depression

The stress and the anxiety cause some people increase in weight (overweight), while, however, others makes them slim down. But, is there a relationship between stress and diet? The truth is that, as has been shown many times scientifically, our diet and nutrition directly influences our mood. The different foods we consume each day may contain nutrients and certain substances with direct action on our nervous system, and more specifically, on our own mood.

The same can happen in reverse. That is, maintaining a depressed, anxious or stressed mood can have a negative influence on the diet. Or, put another way: maintaining a proper diet helps overcome depression itself, while a diet low in protein foods can cause our moods to decay by not taking all the amino acids that the body needs.

For example, when a person is anxious or stressed (or just nervous), it tends to be very common to neglect their diet, being very usual to opt for foods that are not so healthy or nutritious.

Overweight and moods

In this case the relationship is twofold, since depression, stress and anxiety can lead to weight gain, and emotional problems such as depression or anxiety can be created by being overweight.

This is because, on many occasions, we may meet people who, in a certain situation that causes them stress, nervousness or anxiety, tend to respond by eating.

It is also demonstrated that the consumption of foods rich in carbohydrates increase the levels of serotonin, which helps to alleviate many negative emotional states. For example, ice cream or chocolate is not bad or serious as long as it is done moderately. The problem would be when, whenever we feel emotionally wrong, we tend to consume foods like these to feel better.

And not only because you can gain weight in this way by increasing the calorie intake itself, and then many people feel bad and guilty for having eaten that way.

And it is true that to a certain extent eating certain foods can help us feel better since we take amino acids and substances that help us in emotional states, but these do not satisfy needs for affection, communication or self-confidence that led to binge eating.

When depression, anxiety or stress are the cause of overweight and obesity

We must bear in mind that depression is a disease that affects the body as a whole, particularly the brain, negatively affecting the way of thinking, the way life is viewed, the state of mind, appetite and the concept that the person has about herself

This can negatively influence the diet, since It is common that the depressive state causes the person to become passive, not very active, which means that it will tend to close at home, in itself, and will stop doing outdoor activities (that is, it will become sedentary).

If we add that prescription drugs not only for the treatment of depression, but also for anxiety and stress, often cause weight gain with some frequency, we have that the end result is not as positive as it could be wait.

When overweight is a cause of depression

It can also happen the other way around. That is, anxiety or depression is not a cause of overweight (because the nervousness characteristic of these two moods influence us to choose to consume foods richer in fat and calories), but that is the overweight the cause of that depression or anxiety.

It has been shown on many occasions that excess weight tends to cause mood disorders such as anxiety or depression. Why? Although in reality the causes that can cause the appearance of these disorders are different, the key lies in the lack of self-esteem that usually causes overweight, especially when at some previous moment the person has suffered some negative case about their excess weight (teasing, insults ...).

That is, the overweight person tends to have low or very low self-esteem, as they have many negative thoughts about both their external appearance and their life in general. It is common that, in addition, they face numerous diets in order to lose weight, but that they never perform. This may be due to different aspects: from their low mood to their difficulties to interact and perform outdoor activities and pleasurable, through their lack of energy due to this depressive state.

In any case, in a wide variety of studies it has been found that Depression can be a cause or a consequence of obesity.

How depression, anxiety or stress for obesity is treated

For the treatment of obesity when it is a cause of depression, anxiety or stress (and vice versa), it is necessary for the specialist to carry out a integral treatment, that in addition to the proper dietary treatment, involves the prescription of psychotherapy and drugs.

While the prescription of a diet individualized by the dietitian / nutritionist is fundamental, so is the cognitive therapy, which has been established as one of the most effective psychotherapeutic treatments in the treatment of eating disorders.

That is, it helps the person to accept their own body, increasing and gaining self-esteem and self-confidence. This, in turn, positively helps to acquire a new lifestyle, adopting healthy eating habits and more physically active habits. This article is published for informational purposes only. You can not and should not replace the consultation with a Nutritionist. We advise you to consult your trusted Nutritionist. ThemesAnxiety Stress Obesity

Why are Diabetes and Depression Linked? | Sherita Golden, M.D., M.H.S. (February 2023)