Causes of Weight Gain: Depression

Depression as a Cause of Weight Gain

Depression has been associated with both weight gain and weight loss. It often is a matter of degree; when people are mild to moderately depressed, they tend to eat more. This includes eating for comfort, and eating as a displacement activity – something to do when they are avoiding something that causes them pain. Some people refer to this as "stress eating." Causes of weight gain can be depression. Here's a look at how depression affects your eating habits.

In severe depression, people sometimes stop eating altogether and therefore lose weight. The reasons for the link between depression as a cause for weight gain are twofold. Firstly, depression is influenced by a hormone that also affects your feelings of hunger. There is a known association between low serotonin - which is associated with depression - and increased appetite/hunger.

Secondly, depression and weight gain, along with other symptoms like dry skin, fatigue and water retention could be caused by low thyroid function. This condition is extremely common, more so in women, and the likelihood increases as you age.

Are you suffering from depression? Answer the simple questions below to find out:

  • Do you feel hopeless, sad, discouraged or empty?
  • Is it hard to find joy – even in former hobbies, social activities, or sex?
  • Have you had significant changes in your weight quickly? This means more than 10 pounds or 5% of your body weight in a month?
  • Have you had sleep changes like insomnia or oversleeping?
  • Are you anxious and restless?
  • Do you feel physically drained? Are even the smallest tasks exhausting?
  • Do you feel guilty or worthless or are you harshly critical of yourself?
  • Do you have a hard time focusing or making decision?
  • Are you more easily frustrated or annoyed than normal?
  • Do you feel sluggish and slow to respond?
  • Are you having new physical symptoms like head, back or abdominal pain?

If you answered yes to three or more of the above, you may be experiencing depression. It is important to have your symptoms evaluated by a health professional.

There are a number of ways to treat depression; the conventional medicine model uses anti-depressant medications which may or may not affect your weight. The research shows that anti-depressants such as SSRI’s (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) like Prozac and Zoloft, show that people lose an average of 16 pounds in the first four months, but regain 12 of the 16 pounds by the end of 12 months.

Some anti-depressants, Wellbutrin in particular, have been shown (usually) to result in a decrease in appetite and increase in weight loss. There is a class of anti-depressants that have been associated with considerable weight gain. One example is Elavil (generic name amitriptyline). It is a less-expensive anti-depressant, often preferred by managed care, and is also an effective medication for preventing migraine headaches. Many people gain a lot of weight after starting Elavil.

Effective weight loss programs must address the emotional aspects of weight change. Some of the major causes of depression are highly treatable, such as:

  • Vitamin deficiency – especially your B vitamins. A good multivitamin can make a world of difference
  • Lack of exercise – just 30 minutes three times a week can help to improve your outlook.
  • Food Allergies – hidden food allergies can change the way your neurotransmitters function and cause depression and anxiety. Enlita’s comprehensive weight loss program will take you step by step through a food allergy elimination.
  • Lack of emotional coping tools.

Sometimes everyone needs just a few pointers in the right direction to get back on track. It helps to work with an expert to develop your emotional coping abilities. 

Join Enlita today and learn techniques to decrease your stress levels, help you manage and balance your mood and help you turn your life around in more ways than one.

Losing weight can have a big impact on your life – physically, mentally and emotionally. Why wait?

About the Author:
Dr. Kendra Pearsall, N.M.D. is a Naturopathic Medical Doctor specializing in natural weight loss and food addiction. She created to help millions of people achieve optimal health, natural weight loss and life success with her free weekly e-newsletter (sign up at the top of this page.)