Weight loss due to depression
Can depression cause weight loss?
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Dr. Divya Shree K.R
Psychiatrist 16 yrs exp Bangalore
We all know that depression affects how you feel, think and behave and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems.One of the physical problems caused by this mental disorder is weight loss.Yes depression can cause weight loss and it is important for you to understand why and how it does. Now weight loss in the context of medicine, refers to a reduction of the total body mass due to a mean loss of fluid, body fat or adipose tissue and/or lean mass namely bone mineral deposits, muscle, tendon, and other connective tissue. Weight loss can either occur unintentionally due to malnourishment or an underlying disease such as depression. Research has been proven that there is a strong connection between the nutritional status of an individual and his/her mental status. Several individuals often get depressed because of being overweight and rarely underweight and it has also been proven that depression can often lead to weight gain and more often weight loss. It is basically like the chicken and egg phenomenon.With severe depression, one might lose weight because of loss of interest in food, which comes from losing interest in pleasure. Loss of hope, status or social contact and spiritual distress can cause depression, which may be associated with reduced nutrition. If depression affects your sleep, this may contribute to your weight loss even though you are eating quite a lot. A report in the February 1997 issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association states that a greater number of calories are burned while a person is awake than sleeping and if you are depressed it is highly likely that you have difficulty sleeping and hence are indirectly shedding more calories. It is also commonly believed that newer antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, may contribute to weight loss in older adults. However, the study found that these widely-held assumptions about antidepressants and weight changes were not fully proven by scientific research. Reports have proven that side effects of SSRIs may include insomnia, nervousness, restlessness and diarrhea. Nervousness and restlessness, like insomnia, may cause you to burn more calories overall and therefore lose weight. Diarrhea can cause weight loss as your body may not have a chance to extract energy and nutrients from the food you consume. Although depression could be a cause of the weight loss, it is also possible that the depression is masking the symptoms of a different health problem causing the weight loss. If a friend or family member experiences significant weight loss while eating a lot of food and suffering from symptoms of depression, a cause for concern regarding bulimia nervosa should be aroused. Also known as bulimia, this eating disorder is characterized by binge-eating followed by a purging of the body. Other conditions such as anorexia nervosa might also be implicated in the cause of weight loss. Hence if you are depressed you may not only have trouble doing normal day-to-day activities or feel as if life isn't worth living but it is also very likely you would lose weight. If you have been diagnosed to have depression and are experiencing symptoms of weight loss then it is advised that you consult your physician.
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