What is Depression?
Depression is a common condition in the United States, affecting as many as one in every ten adults. Depression is an intense feeling of sadness that often includes feelings of helplessness, hopelessness and worthlessness. Many people experience depression on an occasional basis, particularly following the loss of a loved one or a stressful period of life. When these feelings of sadness begin to linger for an extended period of time, several days, weeks or even months, then it may be clinical depression, a condition that often requires medical treatment.
Clinical depression is often diagnosed when at least five out of the following nine symptoms are present in an individual:
- A depressed or saddened mood that is particularly present in the morning
- Fatigue or a loss of energy
- Daily feelings of worthlessness or guilt
- Indecisiveness and difficulty concentrating
- Reduced interest in regular activities
- Drastic changes in sleep patterns, including insomnia or hypersomnia
- Thoughts of suicide, or reoccurring thoughts focused around death
- Change in mental processes, such as a feeling of restlessness or feeling entirely slowed down
- Signification changes in weight, either lost or gained
The Connection between Depression and Obesity
Depression is a common condition amongst the population of obese and overweight individuals in the United States. The relationship between depression and obesity is reciprocal. According to recent studies, obese individuals are about 25% more likely to become depressed than are individuals of a healthy weight. Likewise, adolescents that suffer from depression are more likely to become obese. There are a variety of reasons for this relationship. Obese individuals often experience poor self-image and low self-esteem, in addition to social isolation. All three of these factors are understood to contribute to depression. Depressed individuals often develop unhealthy relationships with food, and are more likely to overeat and make unhealthy food choices for comfort, which leads to obesity. In addition, one of the leading symptoms of depression is fatigue and a loss of energy which contributes to the sedentary lifestyle that many obese individuals take part in.
For many people, it is hard to say whether obesity was spurred on by depression or vice versa. If you are obese and suffering from depression than losing weight can often help relieve the emotional and physical difficulties that you are experiencing, but it is important to focus on both your physical and emotional health as you strive towards meeting your weight loss goal.