Depression Directly Affects Ability to Lose Weight

A recent study was done to show the association between depression and weight loss in women, during active treatment for both conditions. The researchers also checked for an association between improvement in depression and changes in caloric intake and physical activity. It was seen that in depressed and overweight women, improvement in depression symptoms brought about weight loss in the short term. “Over the first six months, women with a decrease in depression score were more likely to lose 11 lbs. or more than women without a significant decrease in depression.”

An association between obesity and depression is already known. Depression in childhood is associated with the development of obesity in adulthood. The opposite is true as well: obesity may cause depression. With obesity being a common problem, this link between being overweight and depression is of serious concern. This study was done to look at the link between the decrease in depression signs and change in weight in women. Women suffering from depression as well as weight gain were assessed to see how alleviating their depression helped them lose more weight over a period of time.

•    203 women, aged between 40 and 65 years and suffering from depression as well as obesity, were selected for this comparative study.
•    They were divided into two groups; one group focused on lifestyle changes to treat weight gain and depression, while the other group of women focused on reducing weight alone.
•    The level of depression, weight loss and caloric intake was assessed at the beginning of the study and after 6, 12 and 24 months respectively.

•    Weight loss during the first six months of treatment was strongly associated with improvement in the person’s depressive moods.
•    After six months, when the women were assessed, there was no definite association between change in depression and change in weight.
•    An improvement in depression leads to more weight loss and greater weight loss also leads to improvement in depression.

This study involved only middle-aged women who suffered from obesity as well as significant depression. Thus, the results cannot be extrapolated to men, children, women of normal body weights and/or women without depression. Also, it was not established definitively that decrease in depression caused increase in physical activity, but only that the two were related.

This study clearly states that depression and weight gain are related. Most obese people and their supportive members overlook the fact that depression is a matter of great concern. It could, hence, be important to assess depression in overweight or obese people. This assessment should be done prior to any other medication being prescribed or recommended for obesity. In the case of people with the combined problems of excess weight and depression, behavioral therapy to treat depression could help in weight reduction. This study has shown that a psychiatric assessment could be done for overweight people, to detect any depressive mood.

For More Information:
Association between Change in Depression and Change in Weight among Women Enrolled in Weight Loss Treatment
Publication Journal: General Hospital Psychiatry, September 2010
By Gregory E. Simon, M.D., Paul Rohde, Ph.D.; Group Health Research Institute, Seattle, Washington and Oregon Research Institute, Eugene, Oregon

*FYI Living Lab Reports Are Summaries of the Original Research.
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