Is Depression Making You Gain Weight -- or Vice Versa?

Mood, weight, food, comfort eating, and depression are linked in complex ways

If you’re being evaluated for depression, you’ll be asked about changes in your appetite and weight -- studies show that almost all people diagnosed with depression experience either an increase or decrease in them. This association makes sense, as changes in brain chemistry can modify both mood and appetite control.

Depression-related weight change can go in two directions, and most people report one of two conditions: gaining weight (with an increase in appetite and excessive sleep) or losing weight (with a loss of appetite and inability to fall or stay sleep). But while the link between depression and weight gain is well established, whether or not gaining weight can actually cause depression is more controversial.

Although multiple studies show that overweight or obese people have a higher incidence of depression than those with healthy weights, the reasons for this are unclear. The jury is still out as to whether changes in brain chemistry are a contributing factor, but what remains clear is a strong behavioral connection between overeating and depressed mood. Weight loss alone often resolves a low mood associated only with excessive weight, but does not usually help true biological depression, which is independent of starting weight (after all, plenty of thin people are treated for depression). 

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