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Depression Weight Loss: What’s The Link?

A decrease in appetite brought on by depression can eventually result in accidental weight loss. Some people might view this as a beneficial side effect, but rapid or excessive weight loss might be dangerous to your health. Keep reading to learn more about this condition.

Difference Between Anxiety and Depression – Depression Weight Loss

Anxiety and depression difference: The fact that one term denotes a single sickness while the other denotes a collection of ailments is a significant distinction between anxiety and depression.

In reality, depression is one illness. There are numerous distinct symptoms (see below). And different people may experience it very differently. However, the term “depression” only refers to one illness.

The word “anxiety” can indicate a number of different things. We all experience anxiety occasionally, and the word “anxiety” can be used to describe that feeling simply. However, when we use the word anxiety in a medical context, it actually refers to anxiety disorder.

Some less frequent conditions are included under anxiety. These include panic disorders and phobias. However, generalized anxiety disorder is the most prevalent (GAD). In the US, a generalized anxiety disorder may affect four to five out of every 100 persons. In this post, we’ll concentrate on generalized anxiety.

What is Anxiety Disorder? Depression Weight Loss

According to The National Institute on Mental Health, periodic anxiety is a standard component of life. When faced with a challenge at work, before a test, or before making a crucial decision, you could experience anxiety. However, anxiety disorders involve more than just passing apprehension or terror.

Anxiety and depression difference: It’s critical to get anxiety treatment as soon as you can since, for someone with an anxiety condition, the anxiety does not go away and can actually worsen over time. The symptoms might affect daily tasks like work performance, academic progress, and interpersonal connections. Generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and various phobia-related disorders are only a few of the several types of anxiety disorders.

Anxiety and depression difference: People with a generalized Anxiety disorder (GAD) display excessive Anxiety or worry, most days for at least 6 months, about many things such as personal health, work, social interactions, and everyday routine life circumstances. Fear and Anxiety can cause significant problems in areas of their life, such as social interactions, school, and work. 

What is Depression? Depression Weight Loss

Depression (also known as Major Depressive Illness or Clinical Depression) is a common but significant mood disorder, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. It produces severe symptoms that interfere with your ability to function on a daily basis, including sleeping, eating, and working. The signs of depression must last for at least two weeks before a diagnosis may be made.

Depression treatment is required when depressive symptoms are chronic and do not go away since some types of depression are slightly different or may arise in unusual situations.

Types of Depression

  • Persistent depressive disorder (also called dysthymia): is a depressed mood that lasts for at least two years. A person diagnosed with persistent depressive disorder may have episodes of major Depression along with periods of less severe symptoms, but symptoms must last for two years to be considered a persistent depressive disorder.
  • Psychotic Depression: occurs when a person has severe depression plus some form of psychosis, such as having disturbing false fixed beliefs (delusions) or hearing or seeing upsetting things that others cannot hear or see (hallucinations). The psychotic symptoms typically have a depressive “theme,” such as delusions of guilt, poverty, or illness.
Depression (also known as Major Depressive Illness or Clinical Depression) is a common but significant mood disorder.
Depression Weight Loss: Depression (also known as Major Depressive Illness or Clinical Depression) is a common but significant mood disorder.
  • Bipolar disorder: is different from Depression, but it is included in this list because someone with bipolar disorder experiences episodes of extremely low moods that meet the criteria for major Depression (called “Bipolar Depression”). But a person with bipolar disorder also experiences extreme high – euphoric or irritable – moods called “mania” or a less severe form called “hypomania.”
  • Postpartum Depression: is much more serious than the “baby blues” (relatively mild depressive and anxiety symptoms that typically clear within two weeks after delivery) that many women experience after giving birth. Women with postpartum Depression experience full-blown major Depression during pregnancy or after delivery (postpartum depression). The feelings of extreme sadness, anxiety, and exhaustion that accompany postpartum depression may make it difficult for these new mothers to complete daily care activities for themselves and/or their babies.
  • Seasonal affective disorder: is characterized by the onset of Depression during the winter months, when there is less natural sunlight. This Depression generally lifts during spring and summer. Winter Depression, typically accompanied by social withdrawal, increased sleep, and weight gain, predictably returns every year in seasonal affective disorder.
  • SAD Seasonal Depression (Depressed SAD): A form of depression known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is triggered by the changing of the seasons; it starts and ends about at the same periods each year. If you have SAD like the majority of people do, your symptoms begin in the fall and last through the winter, draining your energy and making you cranky. Typically, these symptoms go away in the spring and summer. SAD less frequently results in depression in the spring or early summer and clears up in the fall or winter.
    SAD treatment options include medications, psychotherapy, and light therapy (phototherapy).

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Depression Fact Sheet

Depression Overview

Depression is a group of illnesses like depression or bipolar disorder that are connected to mood elevation or depression

Types of Depression

  • Clinical Depression: A mental health disorder characterized by persistently depressed mood or loss of interest in activities, causing significant impairment in daily life.
  • Persistent depressive disorder: A mild but long-term form of depression.
  • Bipolar disorder: A disorder associated with episodes of mood swings ranging from depressive lows to manic highs.
  • Bipolar II disorder:  A type of bipolar disorder characterized by depressive and hypomanic episodes.
  • Postpartum depression: Depression that occurs after childbirth.

Depression Treatments

  • Support group: A place where those pursuing the same disease or objective, such as weight loss or depression, can receive counseling and exchange experiences.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy: A conversation treatment that aimed to change the negative attitudes, actions, and feelings connected to psychiatric discomfort.
  • Counseling psychology: A subfield of psychology that handles issues with the self that are connected to work, school, family, and social life.
  • Anger management: To reduce destructive emotional outbursts, practice mindfulness, coping skills, and trigger avoidance.
  • Psychoeducation: Mental health education that also helps individuals feel supported, validated, and empowered
  • Family therapy: psychological counseling that improves family communication and conflict resolution.

Depression and Anxiety Statistics

It’s critical to understand the distinction between anxiety and depression. Anxiety, in its most basic form, is an excessive feeling of worry, whereas depression, in its most basic form, is an excessive feeling of worthlessness and hopelessness. It is conceivable for someone to experience depression and anxiety simultaneously.

6.8 million

GAD affects 6.8 million adults or 3.1% of the U.S. population, yet only 43.2% are receiving treatment.

Source: National Institute on Mental Health

19 million

19 million adults experience specific phobias, making it the most common anxiety disorder in America.  

Source: ADAA2020

17.3 million

Major depressive disorder affects approximately 17.3 million American adults or about 7.1% of the U.S. population aged 18 and older.

Source: National Institute of Mental Health

Generalized anxiety disorder and depression can both have emotional and physical symptoms.
Depression Weight Loss: Generalized anxiety disorder and depression can both have emotional and physical symptoms.

Why Do We Lose Weight With Depression?

Although depression mostly affects your mood and mental state of mind, it can also result in physical symptoms.

You may have aches and pains, a decline in energy, fatigue, strange stomach and digestive problems, or changes in appetite.

Some people who experience depression wind up feeling more hungry than normal or overeating.

Does Depression Cause Weight Loss?

Particularly during the lengthy, gloomy winter months, comforting foods can feel calming and frequently appear to momentarily soothe grief, emptiness, and other emotional discomforts.

A decrease in appetite brought on by depression can eventually result in accidental weight loss.

Some people might view this as a beneficial side effect, but rapid or excessive weight loss might be dangerous to your health.

Additionally, it may sap even more of your energy, making it more challenging to manage other depressive symptoms.

Can Depression Cause Weight Loss?

Weight Loss Due to Stress and Depression

Weight loss and appetite changes frequently go hand in hand with other depressive symptoms.

Depression and Weight Loss: Mood changes

Depression often involves overwhelming mood symptoms, including:

  • Feelings of sadness that don’t have a clear cause
  • Hopelessness
  • A persistent sense of numb disinterest

These shifts can replace your regular range of emotions, absorbing your mental energy until you have little room to focus on the typical chores of everyday living, including showering and dressing, maintaining your house, or preparing and eating meals.

Other common symptoms include difficulty making decisions, weariness, and a loss of interest in activities you usually enjoy.

Weight loss may also be influenced by these symptoms:

  • You used to enjoy creating elaborate meals and preparing them, but lately, you haven’t had the strength to do anything more than peel a banana and eat a few crackers.
  • You might not give much thought to what or when you eat if you no longer like eating. You might go without eating since food may not be as important to you as it once was.
  • You want to eat, but nothing sounds appealing. Your partner keeps offering options, but you are stuck. Finally, feeling agitated, you claim not to be hungry and choose to go to bed.

Weight Loss Depression: Other physical symptoms

The physical manifestations of depression may also contribute to weight loss.

Avoiding everything except the blandest foods may be necessary if you experience random, inexplicable stomach discomfort or nausea. You might even cut back on your food intake to prevent unpleasant effects.

Hunger pangs can sometimes be overcome by fatigue and low energy. You can feel so exhausted at the end of each day that all you want to do is pass out in bed. Even though you may consume straightforward foods that don’t require preparation, it may still be difficult for you to gather the stamina to finish even these lighter meals.

A few depressed persons also pace and fidget, which is a form of psychomotor agitation. These activities burn calories, and the combination of increased activity and reduced hunger only increases the likelihood that you’ll lose weight.

Ryan Zofay forming a circle and hugging friends.

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Depression Meds That Cause Weight Loss

  • Depression medication weight loss: Research indicates that certain antidepressants may promote weight loss during the first few months of use.
  • Depression medication that causes weight loss: Bupropion (Wellbutrin) and fluoxetine (Prozac) are antidepressants that may also cause weight loss over a longer length of time.
  • Depression medication and weight loss: Antidepressant-related weight loss may also come from decreased appetite or gastrointestinal side effects such as nausea, upset stomach, or diarrhea.

Weight Loss and Depression: Changes in The Brain

Can depression make you lose weight? In a 2016 study, researchers looked into possible causes for various patterns of hunger and weight gain or loss in depressive patients.

Three small groups of participants were shown images of food and non-food things by researchers:

  • People with major depression who noticed appetite increases
  • People with major depression who noticed appetite decreases
  • A control group of people without depression

Here’s what they found:

  • The brain areas connected to rewards appeared to be the most active in those with increased appetite.
  • A region of the brain linked to interoception, a sense that aids in the perception and comprehension of physical feelings like hunger and thirst, appeared to be less active in people who reported appetite reduction.
  • None of the other groups displayed the same lack of activity.

The connections between these brain areas, according to the study’s authors, may also play a role in appetite reduction, a lack of interest in eating, and weight loss.

You could feel less tempted to eat when eating isn’t enjoyable or satisfying, especially if you don’t feel as hungry as you normally would. It makes sense that you’ll start to lose weight if you’re eating less overall.

Depression Weight Gain (Weight Gain Depression)

Weight gain and loss are both potential signs of depression. Given that some researchers suggest that depression is a predictor of obesity while others find no such link, it is unclear how frequently depression results in weight increases.

Even though there is no obvious reason, women who experience depression as teenagers tend to gain weight more frequently than adults. Regardless of whether they have ever experienced depression, men may acquire weight as a result of their depression, but they don’t appear to be any more likely to have an elevated BMI in the long run.

Age, sex, and education may all affect whether you put on weight as a sign of depression, but race or ethnicity do not appear to be associated with this.

Depressed About My Weight But Can’t Stop Eating: The Connection Between Depression and Weight Gain

  • Loss of motivation: Can depression cause weight gain? Fatigue and difficulty finding pleasure in activities you used to enjoy contribute significantly to a lack of motivation. When you have no motivation, you’re more likely to turn down social plans, stay home, and stay in a state of rest.
  • Elevated levels of cortisol: Does depression cause weight gain? Depression is associated with elevated cortisol, which promotes fat accumulation.
  • Emotional eating: Eating habits often change in light of emotional eating, which is often impulsive and helps ease in-the-moment feelings of sadness.
  • Slowing down: When you’re feeling down, your body might physically slow down. Slower movements or a slower walking pace can mean less physical activity throughout the day, keeping those emotional calories in your body.
  • Inflammation: Chronic stress caused by depression can lead to cellular inflammation, hormonal changes, and the accumulation of fat.
  • Social changes: Depression often leads to decreased self-esteem and therefore less likelihood of seeing people you love or doing activities together.
  • Poor sleep: Poor sleep is one of the leading causes of weight gain, and insomnia is a depression symptom.
  • Lifestyle changes: You may be less apt to wake up early to exercise, have less energy to walk the dog, or give up gardening when the heaviness of depression sinks in. These changes in your daily routine can add up to weight gain as a result of inactivity.
  • Diet cycles: If you find that you do tend to gain weight from depression or antidepressants, then you might find your eating habits in a never-ending cycle of trying to lose weight by dieting. Diets typically fail in the long term and can be self-defeating.
  • Increased hunger: Leptin, a hormone that regulates hunger, can increase during periods of depression, resulting in increased food intake and calories that can easily lead to depression-induced weight gain.
  • Craving carbs: Carbohydrates (like pizza, pasta, and donuts) can increase your serotonin levels. When you feel down, your body looks to increase serotonin, which could mean eating more than your normal portion of carbs and lead to weight gain.

Can Anti Depression Pills Cause Weight Gain?

Antidepressants are unlikely to lead to weight gain for a short period of time, such as six months or less. 6 Although the relationship between long-term antidepressant usage and weight gain has not been well researched, the findings point to a statistically significant weight gain. Weight gain is more likely to occur with some antidepressant classes than others.

Some doctors may decide to recommend an extra medicine, such as amphetamine or Wellbutrin, to treat the negative effects of weight gain if your medication is alleviating your depression. It is unclear what causes weight gain, whether depression medications themselves cause it, or whether food cravings, alterations in lifestyle, or an increase in appetite are to blame.

Feeling Depressed About Weight Gain During Pregnancy

According to the study, women who experience depressive symptoms during pregnancy are more likely to spend extended periods of time sitting down in the second trimester. The academics discovered that this increases their risk of gaining more weight and developing gestational diabetes.

The study was presented at the Society for Endocrinology annual meeting in Edinburgh and was headed by Dr. Nithya Sukumar, Clinical Research Fellow, Metabolic & Vascular Health, Warwick Medical School, University of Warwick.

Pregnant women could benefit from early intervention to enhance their physical and mental well-being and lower the dangers related to sedentary behavior, according to Dr. Sukumar. Pregnant women should spend less time sitting down since sitting increases the risk of delivery problems for both mother and child in people with gestational diabetes.

The study emphasizes the need of addressing women’s physical and mental well-being beginning in the first trimester of pregnancy to assist lower the health risks linked to sedentary behavior.

Sedentary behavior has been linked in the past to mental health issues, diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and other conditions, but its effects on pregnant women’s health are unknown. The quantity and duration of physical activity required to maintain pregnant women’s health do not have any recommended levels in the UK.

1,263 pregnant women participated in the study titled “Longer duration of sitting down in pregnancy is associated with gestational diabetes, increased weight gain, and depression symptoms.” During the first trimester of their pregnancy as well as again in the latter stages of the second, they were asked to report on their level of physical activity and mental wellness.

Despite controlling for BMI, age, and socioeconomic position, the research team from the University of Warwick and George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust, Nuneaton, discovered that overall, women with self-reported depression symptoms were more likely to sit down for longer periods of time. Sedentary women gained a lot of weight during the first and second trimesters of pregnancy, and pregnant women who spent more time sitting down in the second trimester also conducted less moderate or intense physical activity.

Last but not least, the researchers discovered that pregnant women who were sedentary had blood glucose levels that were higher around 28 weeks of gestation, which put them at a higher risk of developing gestational diabetes.

Dr. Ponnusamy Saravanan from the University of Warwick’s Warwick Medical School said: “It might be simpler to develop a public health strategy to encourage women to take breaks from sitting down than to increase their physical activity levels when pregnant. We think limiting sitting time has the potential to lower metabolic risk factors for neonates as well as the risk of gestational diabetes in pregnant mothers.”

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Weight Loss From Depression: Other Potential Causes

Even when you live with depression, unexplained weight loss could have other causes, including:

  • Cancer
  • Gastrointestinal issues, including Crohn’s disease or celiac disease
  • Diabetes
  • Medication side effects
  • Eating disorders
  • Grief
  • Anxiety and stress
If you experience sadness for more than two weeks, speak with your doctor. If you are contemplating suicide, call emergency services to get immediate medical attention.
Depression Weight Loss: If you experience sadness for more than two weeks, speak with your doctor. If you are contemplating suicide, call emergency services to get immediate medical attention.

Rapid or continued weight loss, especially over a short period of time, can have health consequences. Contact a healthcare professional if you:

  • Lose weight without changing your diet or usual exercise routine
  • Notice changes in bowel movements
  • Notice unusual stomach pain or nausea
  • Notice changes in your ability to taste or smell
  • Feel unusually tired
  • Get sick more frequently
  • Have trouble swallowing or chewing
  • Lose more than 5 percent of your body weight within 6 months to a year (if you weigh 175 pounds, for example, that would be around 9 pounds of weight loss)

Depression often occurs along with other conditions, including anxiety, eating disorders, or complicated grief. These concerns generally won’t improve without support from a mental health professional.

Therapy can help if you:

  • Struggle to cope with relentless, heavy grief after a loss
  • Feel preoccupied with thoughts of food, exercise, or your body weight
  • Have trouble eating due to upsetting life changes or persistent worries

Depressed About Weight: Some people also experience depression after losing weight

Alternatively, you might have depressive symptoms following deliberate weight loss. Maybe you have lost some weight, but maybe not as much as you had intended. You can experience frustration, helplessness, or discouragement if your weight loss has plateaued. Your mood and outlook may be negatively impacted by these feelings.

The media, marketing, and messages from loved ones frequently imply that being skinny makes you happier. The key to a new, better you can then seem to be to lose weight, so when the life improvements you had hoped for don’t materialize, you might feel disappointed or even depressed.

The truth is that losing weight won’t make any of your personal issues, interpersonal issues, or professional challenges go away. These worries and anything else that’s bothering you will probably persist until you deal with it.

There is some evidence that sadness and malnutrition may go hand in hand. Though further research is required, this association may help explain why many patients with eating problems also experience depression.

Your brain and body don’t get enough energy to function properly when you skip meals or severely restrict calories, whether because of an eating disorder or another factor, such as food insecurity or a lack of access to nourishing food. This results in symptoms like energy loss, fatigue, and low mood.

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