Obesity is a prevalent health condition in the United States. Around 42% of adults in the US are suffering from obesity. Obesity can increase your risk of developing certain health conditions, for example:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Certain cancers
- Heart attack
Similarly, it can put you at an even greater risk of extreme complexities if you foster COVID-19. Not only does obesity cause physical health problems, but it also increases the risk of mental health disorders.
How can obesity affect my psychic health?
A few research studies have discovered that obesity is connected to mood and anxiety problems. This implies that in case you are obese, you might be bound to experience the ill effects of a mental health condition like depression or anxiety. You might be pondering whether obesity causes mental health issues or the other way around. The connection between obesity and mental health differs from person to person. For certain people, emotional troubles cause them to eat more. These people use food as a way of coping with stress, bringing about weight gain and obesity.
For other people, weight gain may cause emotional stress. Being obese can prompt negative feelings about one’s self. Individuals who are overweight may likewise experience, judgment or stigma from other people. These experiences can lower self-esteem. People who are obese may find it challenging to participate in positive activities, making it harder to adapt to negative feelings.
Which mental health conditions are linked to obesity?
Also, obesity increases the risk of developing certain mental health disorders like depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, etc.
Anxiety is a kind of emotional health problem that entails huge concern. Overweight people encounter anxiety problems, including general anxiety, panic issues, and social anxiety disorder. Here is a summary of what these three issues are:
- General anxiety refers to excessive worrying about multiple spaces of a person’s life.
- Social anxiety disorder happens when an individual’s concern is mostly centered around close connections with others.
- Panic disorder usually happens along with other anxiety disorders. People experience panic attacks and symptoms such as dizziness, shortness of breath, and chest pain in this condition.
It is uncertain why individuals who are overweight are bound to encounter anxiety. In any case, one reason is that their anxiety can originate from issues that obese individuals face, for example:
- Increased humiliation
- Health issues
- Lower self-confidence
A few scientists support a biological study that says that there is a relationship between anxiety and obesity. According to the study, anxiety is connected to increased movement in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, a part of the brain. The HPA axis is responsible for a few functions like digestion and emotional stability. When it is not working correctly, it can cause a person to eat more and gain weight, ultimately leading to obesity.
Anxiety and obesity have some common causes, including a history of child abuse, traits like sensitivity to criticism, neuroticism, and habit to avoid stress.
Depression is a mood problem that includes trouble focusing, sadness, loss of interest in activities, and negative feelings about oneself. Studies have shown that depression can cause weight gain, and weight gain can cause depression.
Some people might use food to deal with depression and all the negativity they face, which causes weight gain after some time. Similarly, depressed individuals are more likely to avoid activities involving energy, motivation, and physical effort, adding to weight gain.
Bipolar disorder is one more sort of mood problem that includes hyper and depressive episodes. During such a situation, an individual encounters irritability for a few days to a few weeks. Different symptoms of bipolar disorder include:
- Feeling overwhelmed by one’s significance or capacities.
- Increased energy levels cause sleep troubles.
- Impulsive actions
The specific reasons behind the relationship between bipolar disorder and obesity are unclear. Like other emotional health conditions, individuals with bipolar disorder might eat more food to deal with stress.
- A more significant number of manic and depressive episodes
- More severe depression
- Suicidal ideation
- Resistance to treatment
Another reason is that prescriptions used to treat bipolar disorder, including mood stabilizers, can cause side effects like increased appetite and weight gain. Hence, those taking these medications for a long time are at serious risk of developing depression. Being overweight and dealing with depression at the same time can be alarming as:
- Increased number of hyper and depressive episodes
- Severe depression
- Suicidal thoughts
- Not wanting to get treated
It is normal to encounter both obesity and mental health problems at the same time. For specific individuals, weight gain might cause mental health conditions, while for other people, these mental health conditions might prompt weight gain and obesity. Luckily, you can find ways to improve your mental and physical health, positively affecting your mental health.
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