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Depression symptoms are associated with temporary weight gain, according to a research



Depression symptoms are associated with temporary weight gain, according to a research.

Many Canadians experience the winter blues, and doctors warn that depressive symptoms can cause weight gain. Additionally, recent findings indicate that those who are already fat are more likely to experience short-term weight rises.

But this was only noticeable in those who were obese (BMI greater than 30.0) or overweight (BMI 25–29.9).

In people whose healthy BMI was less than 25, there was no evidence of subsequent weight gain.

“The higher your BMI, the more vulnerable you are to weight gain from having an increase in depressive symptoms,” stated Julia Mueller, a University of Cambridge researcher on behavioural weight management and study author.

Mueller stated in an interview with Global News on Wednesday that this might be caused by a number of things, including eating habits, exercise, sleeping patterns, and metabolic changes. All of these things can be impacted by unpleasant emotions.

The study was carried out in the early phases of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has affected individuals psychologically all over the world, between August 2020 and April 2021.

More than 2,100 British individuals between the ages of 44 and 70 were asked to participate in the study by answering questions on their body weight and mental health every month for nine months via an online app.

Overall, the researchers discovered that a one-unit increase in depressed symptoms was linked to a 45-gram gain in weight. The weight gain was 52 grams for overweight people and 71 grams for obese people.

Mueller noted that although this rise may appear minor at first, weight can accumulate with time.

“We know from previous research that even small increases in weight can lead to larger weight gains over the long term, so I think it’s still an issue of concern.”

An increasing amount of research, spanning several decades, examines the connection between fat and depression.

The most recent Cambridge study, according to University of Toronto psychiatry and pharmacology professor Roger McIntyre, “confirms the association between depressive symptoms as well as the diagnosis of major depression and obesity,” adding to a “compelling, large, and international database.”

Mueller added, “There is very convincing evidence that there is an association,” noting that both weight gain and depressed symptoms can exacerbate one another.

However, why does that occur?

According to Mueller, “the literature suggests that people often consume more energy-dense foods, more sugary snacks, more processed, more fatty foods in response to negative emotions.” She also mentioned that it’s harder to find the motivation to work out when one is depressed. In addition, sleep disturbances might lead to an increase in appetite in individuals.

Mueller noted that obesity and being overweight can make people more susceptible to weight gain after an increase in depressive symptoms. This vulnerability may be explained by genetic differences and one’s ability to manage unpleasant emotions.

“I think it’s a combination of genes and early life experiences that probably makes the difference,” she explained.

According to McIntyre, there are similarities between obesity and depression due to their shared neurobiology, psychological components, and socioeconomic influences.

“So not only do these conditions overlap at the population-clinical level and overlap at the causation level, but some of the therapeutics are beginning to overlap as well,” he added.

Mueller said that medical professionals should keep an eye out for any changes in a patient’s mental health over time in addition to looking for indications of clinical depression when treating them.

People ought to be mindful of their own mental health on a personal level.

“If you’re feeling worse than you usually do, that’s the thing to pay attention to and to look out for and maybe think about what can you do in terms of self-care and what other coping mechanisms could you consider,” Mueller said.

How to manage depressive feelings

Experts suggest that in addition to mental health support plans in collaboration with their healthcare professional, exercise and a healthy diet can help patients manage depression.

For those suffering from depression, physical fitness is crucial, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Eating healthy diet, taking vitamins and supplements for balance can also be useful, PHAC says.


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