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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Depression and Weight Gain

Feeling down from time to time is a normal part of life. But when emptiness and despair take hold and won't go away, it may be depression. We all go through ups and downs in our mood. Sadness is a normal reaction to life’s struggles, setbacks, and disappointments. Many people use the word “depression” to explain these kinds of feelings, but depression is much more than just sadness.

Common signs and symptoms of depression
·         Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness.
·         Loss of interest in daily activities. 
·         Appetite or weight changes. Sleep changes.
·         Irritability or restlessness Loss of energy.
·         Self-loathing. Strong feelings of worthlessness or guilt
·         Concentration problems. Trouble focusing, making decisions, or remembering things.
·         Unexplained aches and pains. An increase in physical complaints such as headaches, back pain, aching muscles, and stomach pain.


Causes for depression
·         Loneliness
·         Lack of social support
·         Recent stressful life experiences
·         Family history of depression
·         Marital or relationship problems
·         Financial strain
·         Early childhood trauma or abuse
·         Alcohol or drug abuse
·         Unemployment or underemployment
·         Health problems or chronic pain


There are lots of possibilities including the fact that people who are depressed may try to relieve their mental pain by eating more. Researchers in this study theorize that the tendency to gain fat around the waistline in depressed people may come from higher cortisol levels produced in response to stress.

Cortisol is commonly known as the “stress hormone” since it’s produced in greater quantities during stressful periods. High levels of cortisol have been correlated with abdominal obesity and accumulation of fat around the waist – as well as a decrease in muscle mass and bone density. Cortisol also raises blood sugar levels, increases blood pressure, and lowers immunity. Too much cortisol isn’t a good thing when it comes to body composition – or overall health.
Elevated cortisol levels also increase appetite to help the body refuel after stressful times, so depressed people with high cortisol levels may eat more food – particularly high carbohydrate foods.

Reducing the Cortisol Response:If depression and weight gain are connected to cortisol, it makes sense to try to reduce cortisol levels naturally. One way to do this is through daily physical exercise. High intensity exercise is best for weight loss, but vigorous exercise and long periods of sustained exercise increases cortisol levels further. The best way to lower cortisol levels naturally is to take a twenty minute walk – preferably outdoors in nature. This not only helps to reduce levels of the “stress hormone” and lift the spirits, it burns extra calories.

Make healthy lifestyle changes:Lifestyle changes are not always easy to make, but they can have a big impact on depression. Lifestyle changes that can be very effective include:
·         Cultivating supportive relationships
·         Getting regular exercise and sleep
·         Eating healthfully to naturally boost mood
·         Managing stress
·         Practicing relaxation techniques
·         Challenging negative thought patterns

By:
www.helpguide.org and By Dr.Kristie Leong M.D

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