There are many options to lose weight today. Either through a weight loss program, diet, personal trainer, exercise, and more. When it comes to our weight though does it have a link to your mental health too? While it can vary from person to person. There is evidence that our weight does have a significant effect on our mental health.
Excess Weight and Mental Health
There was a Harvard study done which combined the date of more than 120,000 women and more than 50,000 men. The study showed quite a few statistics when it came to health and weight. When it came to the psychological effects of excess weight it showed people were more prone to eating disorders, depression, and anxiety. Not to mention the large number of health risks that comes with excess weight. What about depression though? Is depression directly linked with weight gain or loss?
There was a review done of fifteen studies done. The study came out in 2010 and was published in the Archives of General Psychiatry. The study found that obese individuals had a 55% higher risk of developing some form of depression when compared to individuals who have a healthy weight. There was another study done which showed people with depression have a 58% higher risk of becoming an obese individual themselves.
On that note, what about weight loss? Can weight loss help to improve an individual’s mental state?
Mental Health Associated with Weight Loss
There was a study done at Kent State University on this very subject. The lead author for the study, John Gunstad who works as the Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University states:
“We’ve known for a long time that obesity is a risk factor for things like Alzheimer’s disease and stroke, and more recent work really shows that obesity is a link to memory problems and concentration problems before that even begins. If excess weight causes these problems, can losing weight help reverse them? That’s what we wanted to research. “
The study was conducted by performing gastric bypass surgery on group of people who were obese and comparing that group’s cognitive skills to another group of people who did not have the surgery. The first group lost fifty pounds over the course of twelve weeks. They tested and have normal or above normal levels for memory and concentration. The results showed that there was no real improvement in cognitive abilities from the group that did not lose weight. Findings did reveal there was a small decrease in mental acuity for the same people over the course of the three month period the study was conducted.
Expert do know that maintaining a healthy weight can help people not to develop anxiety, depression, or suffer from low self esteem. However, there can be many other factors in play for an individual to suffer poor mental health. What about when it comes to the process of weight loss? Exercise and good diet? Does that help to increase mental health?
The Process of Losing Weight Can Help With Mental Health
Exercise itself is directly linked to mental health. It’s been shown that even a simple jog or a walk can help to release endorphins in the brain. Endorphins creating a feeling of euphoria and happiness naturally. This in turn can boost a person’s mood, and can even help to alleviate the symptoms associated with anxiety or depression. Doctors have even recommended that people who suffer from anxiety or depression work out regularly. In some cases exercise worked just as well as taking antidepressant pills to treat depression.
Exercise can also help to cut down on stress. Stress can lead to many health problems, including weight gain. When an individual works up a sweat it helps to shed mental and physical stress. Exercise helps by increasing the concentration of norepinephrine, a chemical in the brain that moderate how it responds to stress. Exercise can even the body and mind to deal with stress better in the long run while also relieving the mental tension an individual may have. Exercise has also been proven to help increase overall brain performance in the long run.
The process of weight loss has a greater effect on a person’s mental health. While losing weight can boost a person’s self esteem, is healthier, reduce the risk of declining mental health, and more. Losing weight is not a cure all for a happy, healthy mind. There can be other factors that affect mental health in the long term such as relationships, outside factors, or other reasons a person is suffering from poor mental health. Still, the process of weight loss can help to maintain a healthy mind. It also goes to show how closely linked it is with the mind as well.