Everyone has moments where they feel sad or upset. These feelings usually go away in a few days and life returns to normal. For many others, these feelings last for much longer periods of time because they suffer from clinical depression. As anyone who has lived with clinical depression knows, even the smallest everyday tasks seem daunting. For those suffering from depression and obesity, losing weight may seem like an impossible goal. But experts tell us this is not the case. With the proper knowledge, strategies, and commitment levels, both conditions can be managed effectively for a lifetime.
First, let’s acknowledge that depression has been linked to a greater risk of developing obesity. A fifteen-year study from the University of Alabama at Birmingham found that people suffering from high levels of depression tended to gain weight at a faster rate than people who had low levels of or no depression. The study emphasizes the genuine physical impact depression has on sufferers, which only provides additional support for effective depression treatment.
The encouraging news is that depression is treatable. It often involves counseling or the use of medications, where counseling aims to pinpoint problems and develop approaches to dealing with them. It can be particularly helpful to patients suffering the dual effects of depression and obesity by getting to the emotional root cause of excessive weight gain.
But did you know that there are two approaches that target both depression and weight gain? You probably already know what they are, but here’s proof that you should incorporate them into your lifestyle immediately!
The first anti-depression/anti-obesity weapon is regular physical activity. A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine divided 156 men and women with depression into three groups. One group took part in an aerobic exercise program, another took an antidepressant medication, and a third did both. At the 16-week mark, depression had eased in all three groups. About 60 to 70 percent of the people in all three groups could no longer be classified as having major depression, supporting the evidence that activity on its own can be just as effective as an anti-depressant medication (although it should be noted that the group that combined activity with medication had the greatest positive outcomes). If you have been prescribed an anti-depressant and are anxious about its potential side effect of weight gain, be sure to discuss your concerns with your medical provider.
The second trick to staving off depression and excessive weight gain revolves around your eating habits. Remember that old adage, “you are what you eat.” There is strong evidence that the typical American diet, consisting of high levels of omega-6 fats (the bad fats), is a driver of the high levels of depression in the US. Conversely, those countries where typical foods are rich in omega-3 (the good fats) report relatively low levels of depression. The bottom line is that what you eat can play a significant role in how you feel and how well you are able to cope with life’s stresses.
It’s important to understand that depression and weight gain are both treatable, but both take time and commitment to getting well. Counseling, regular physical activity, healthy eating, and/or medication can help you achieve your goals and stay the course for a lifetime.