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Nancy Schimelpfening

Obesity and Depression Are Linked, Say Researchers

By March 3, 2010

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Obesity appears to be linked with an increased risk of depression, say researchers, and the link also works in the other direction.

Floriana S. Luppino and a team of researchers at Leiden University Medical Center and GGZ Rivierduinen, Leiden, the Netherlands, analyzed the results of 15 previous studies involving 58,745 participants which examined the relationship between depression and obesity over time.

"We found bidirectional associations between depression and obesity: obese persons had a 55% increased risk of developing depression over time, whereas depressed persons had a 58% increased risk of becoming obese. The association between depression and obesity was stronger than the association between depression and overweight, which reflects a dose-response gradient," said the authors.

The researches also found that the link between obesity and later depression was stronger among Americans than among Europeans and stronger for diagnosed depressive disorder compared with depression symptoms.

Although the causes for the obesity-depression link are uncertain, the authors discussed several possible theories, including the following:

  • Obesity is an inflammatory state and inflammation increases the risk of depression.
  • Obesity contributes to body dissatisfaction and low-esteem, putting the overweight individual at risk for depression.
  • Depression may increase weight by either interfering with the endocrine system or through antidepressant side effects.

The authors suggest that doctors treating patients with either depression or obesity should be aware of the link so that they can engage in preventative care and detect problems early.

March 3, 2010 at 7:59 am
(1) Darkenwulf says:

I know lots of people who are obese and they don’t link any kind of depression to their weight. Anyone who has a weight problem rarely links to their poundage unless any study tells them that is the reason they should feel depressed. From what I have learned of life, any bad feelings come from inside and not from any image in a mirror.

March 3, 2010 at 5:11 pm
(2) Susan says:

Most all anti-depressants cause weight gain contributing to an alresdy depressed state. The cure is worse

March 25, 2010 at 10:23 am
(3) Sean says:

Depressive state can affect your appetite whether its the lost of appetite or the uncontrolable desire for food to make you feel good.

October 3, 2010 at 1:10 pm
(4) mary says:

i am curious to know if any of the three comments were mad by people who are themselves overweight.
depression has many causes. obesity may be one of them or may be the cause of the depression. also, be careful, depression may be staring you in the face, you will not always recognise it.

March 2, 2011 at 5:24 am
(5) Kate says:

I am obese and get depressed very easily. I know myself that I am depressed because I am overweight and powerless to change it at the moment. There is definately a link here

September 23, 2011 at 8:00 am
(6) Brett Bilgisayar says:

Exactly. If you are overweight, want to do something about it, but can’t, it can be very depressing. Facing obesity every day, and how our society looks down on it, will wear on your self worth.

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