Depressed about being overweight

SAMHSA’s National Helpline | SAMHSA

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  • SAMHSA’s National Helpline is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders.

    Also visit the online treatment locator.

SAMHSA’s National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357) (also known as the Treatment Referral Routing Service), or TTY: 1-800-487-4889 is a confidential, free, 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year, information service, in English and Spanish, for individuals and family members facing mental and/or substance use disorders. This service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations.

Also visit the online treatment locator, or send your zip code via text message: 435748 (HELP4U) to find help near you. Read more about the HELP4U text messaging service.

The service is open 24/7, 365 days a year.

English and Spanish are available if you select the option to speak with a national representative. Currently, the 435748 (HELP4U) text messaging service is only available in English.

In 2020, the Helpline received 833,598 calls. This is a 27 percent increase from 2019, when the Helpline received a total of 656,953 calls for the year.

The referral service is free of charge. If you have no insurance or are underinsured, we will refer you to your state office, which is responsible for state-funded treatment programs. In addition, we can often refer you to facilities that charge on a sliding fee scale or accept Medicare or Medicaid. If you have health insurance, you are encouraged to contact your insurer for a list of participating health care providers and facilities.

The service is confidential. We will not ask you for any personal information. We may ask for your zip code or other pertinent geographic information in order to track calls being routed to other offices or to accurately identify the local resources appropriate to your needs.

No, we do not provide counseling. Trained information specialists answer calls, transfer callers to state services or other appropriate intake centers in their states, and connect them with local assistance and support.

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Last Updated: 08/30/2022

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Depression and obesity. Relationships and treatments

Low self-esteem, high levels of anxiety, unstable emotional state, depressive symptoms are characteristics that, according to research, are characteristic of most overweight people.

They are often considered as biopsychosocial causes of overweight and obesity. But at the same time, scientists still do not have unanimity in answering the question of what comes first: depression or excess weight? Which of these, respectively, is subject to psychotherapeutic and / or medication correction? And how justified is it with one shot - antidepressants - to get rid of two "hares"? nine0003

We got an opinion on this matter from the head physician of the Minsk Regional Clinical Center "Psychiatry - Narcology", Ph. D. Alexey Alexandrov .

Psychotherapy for excess weight

Alexey Alexandrov:

– There are studies that show that in about half of the cases, people who experience or have experienced depression suffer from compulsive eating disorder. Whether depression is the cause of compulsive eating disorder or vice versa has not been reliably established. However, low self-esteem, an increased level of personal anxiety, and isolation, which in childhood are predictors of potential obesity and subsequently persist into adulthood, actually level the results of overweight treatment as such. At the same time, the prescription of antidepressants for diagnosed mild or moderate depression has a positive effect not only on the emotional state of a person, but also on his eating behavior, leading to a decrease in overweight. nine0003

At the same time, pharmacotherapy - treatment with pills - is not a priority in relation to eating disorders. First of all, psychotherapeutic methods are used, which show high efficiency in the correction of eating disorders, including obesity.

  1. Cognitive behavioral therapy . It can be both individual and group.
  2. Self-help groups : gluttons anonymous, anorectics anonymous; anonymous bulimia and so on. The work of such groups is based on the famous 12-step program, which has shown its effectiveness in relation to people suffering from alcoholism. The program is adapted to the problems of people with eating disorders. nine0028
  3. Managed Self-Help Programs . An example of such a program is Allen Carr's book The Easy Way to Stop Smoking, by reading which a person applies non-pharmacological methods of quitting smoking to himself. Similar programs aimed at people with eating disorders are also available in the form of printed publications, as well as in the form of applications for electronic gadgets.

Antidepressants for depression and obesity

Aleksey Aleksandrov:

– As far as pharmacotherapy of eating disorders is concerned, among the drugs, one can mention antidepressants, some anticonvulsants and so-called “special means”. There is another group of drugs that have a significant impact on eating behavior and, accordingly, weight, but today they are not medicines. By “special means” I mean drugs that have a pronounced effect in reducing appetite, but are not registered as medicines in Belarus. It should also be noted that no drug is used as monotherapy for eating disorders . Pharmacotherapy of excess weight as part of complex therapy can achieve special results if the patient has depressive symptoms, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety.

Antidepressants are of particular interest in this context. Some of them, coping well with the manifestations of depression, provoke weight gain. The uncontrolled prescription of antidepressants was even named one of the key reasons for the large number of overweight and obese people in America. nine0008

Aleksey Alexandrov:

– In my opinion, cause and effect are reversed in this statement. On the other hand, it is quite difficult to say for sure what is primary and what is secondary: depression or obesity. Fortunately, there is a group of drugs that provide optimal levels of serotonin (“hormone of happiness” or “hormone of good mood”) and by influencing food craving (an irresistible desire to eat), impulsivity and compulsions, help in the treatment of depression and the correction of food problems. behavior. nine0003

Low serotonin - high food cravings. This is a scientifically proven fact. Serotonin deficiency provokes an irresistible desire to eat, bulimia, compulsive overeating. Accordingly, modification of serotonin levels with serotonin antidepressants eliminates these risks. In addition, antidepressants encourage people to stay physically active longer, increase endurance and performance, i.e. do not cause relaxation and do not have to hypodynamia, but on the contrary, they have a stimulating effect. nine0003

Alexey Alexandrov:

– Why it is important to prescribe antidepressants for depression and obesity, shows a study by American scientists that was conducted over 5 years (from 2005 to 2010) with the participation of a large number of obese people. They assessed the severity of depressive symptoms, which turned out to be quite a lot. Moreover, signs of depression were more common in women than in men, and their severity corresponded to a moderate and severe degree of the disorder. Despite some gender differences, the fact remains that obese people often suffer from depression, requiring pharmacotherapy. Antidepressants have a dual effect: on the one hand, they treat depression, on the other hand, during the course of therapy, which lasts from 4 weeks, the patient, as a rule, has the desired and desired weight loss. nine0003

In addition, serotonin antidepressants have been shown to have a positive effect on compulsions (compulsions). And while there is no evidence for compulsive overeating or bulimia, there is reason to believe that antidepressants may be effective against these forms of compulsive disorders.

Today, the body-positive thinking trend is actively moving all over the world: the perception of body weight and non-ideal forms in a positive way. And this is a good trend. But if the main focus is not on the "body", but on the "positive", the expert believes, this fits well into the context of preventing the biopsychosocial causes of excess weight. The formula is simple: there is a good mood, positive - no depression, which means there is less risk of obesity. nine0003

The materials on the website are for informational purposes and are intended for educational purposes. The information should not be used as medical advice. Diagnoses and prescribes treatment only your doctor. The editors of the site are not responsible for possible negative consequences resulting from the use of information posted on the site

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is there a connection with being overweight


  • Relationship between overweight and depression
  • Psychological causes of excess weight
  • Seasonal affective disorders and excess weight

Depression is not just a condition, but a disease that must be taken seriously. Depression is directly related to weight, as it is characterized by changes in appetite, apathy, unwillingness to take care of oneself, weight gain or loss. It is difficult for people who have experienced depression to control their weight, so weight changes are a natural process. nine0003

Relationship between overweight and depression

The problem of overweight is often associated not only with the fact that a person does not have enough willpower to control his appetite, but with the fact that weight gain or obesity is a direct consequence of depression .

This means that diets, fasting days or even fasting will not help here, since a long-term strategy is needed to solve the problem

It includes not only the process of losing weight, but also developing healthy habits0008 to help you maintain your weight loss.

Depression is manifested by a whole range of symptoms: increased fatigue, apathy, guilt, low self-esteem, a sense of the meaninglessness of existence, unwillingness to live. Many people think that it is the fullness that affects their psychological state, while everything happens quite the opposite, because of mental problems, they begin to seek solace in food.

Weight gain is a direct consequence of depression

Psychological causes of excess weight

Psychological and emotional disorders directly affect weight loss, as they cause eating disorders. For example, compulsive overeating . People experiencing psychological problems "seize" anxiety, stress, fear, boredom. Hunger attacks become uncontrollable. Overeating, a person blames himself for this, which only aggravates his condition.

Another consequence of psychological problems is night eating syndrome . It manifests itself in the fact that a person skips breakfast, and the entire daily diet falls on the evening, after 6-7 pm. Because of such an incorrect regimen, his sleep and wakefulness patterns are disturbed, and difficulties with falling asleep begin. nine0003

Binge eating and night eating syndrome

Childhood trauma, abuse and post-traumatic stress also lead to weight problems. In this case, a person consciously or unconsciously overeats, and his fullness serves as an additional protection for him from the experience. So, a person seizes a trauma (emotional or physical), and excess weight becomes a kind of barrier that protects him from other potential injuries and the whole world around him.

Another cause of excess weight caused by depression can be impaired perception of one's body . This may accompany an eating disorder, or it may cause it. A person begins to be ashamed of his body, sometimes even hates it. He may have a distorted perception of his image, when a person with a normal figure sees a completely different reflection in the mirror. Naturally, someone who is embarrassed about his body will not go in for fitness, swimming or dancing, and therefore the problems will only get worse.

Obesity may be caused by impaired perception of one's body

Seasonal affective disorders and excess weight

Depression can occur in the autumn-winter period due to lack of sunlight, which is manifested by a decrease in serotonin levels, which causes apathy. This condition is seasonal affective disorder which can cause malnutrition.

If a person tends to get stuck in a bad mood, then it is in winter and autumn that he will gain the most kilograms

In this case, it is necessary to carefully monitor your diet. More vegetables and fruits, you can not allow a deficiency of vitamins, you can take vitamin D. Of course, it is very important to monitor your psychological state.

Thus, depression directly affects weight loss, preventing you from losing excess weight and fixing the result. What to do in this case? Of course, psychological problems, and especially such serious ones as depression, require qualified help. Don't let things take their course, otherwise the psychological state will inevitably cause problems with eating behavior, and then it will be even more difficult for you to get out of it. nine0003

Overweight can cause seasonal affective disorders

The help of a psychologist or psychotherapist should be accompanied by the help of loved ones.

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