09-06 Being skinny increases risk of depression, says study

Posted in Depression, Mental Health

Being skinny increases risk of depression, says study

Stigma around weight is a common, particularly in women who are scared of gaining even a few ounces. With celebrities and social media glorifying extremely thin figures as healthy, youngsters, especially, women are getting more stressed and anxious. The idea of equating beauty with thin bodies leads to an unhealthy comparison with their idols and peers, which, in turn, leads to body image issues and eating disorders. Researchers from the Seoul National University of Medicine in South Korea have made twin observations — skinny women are more likely to develop depression and depressed people are inclined to losing more weight.

“It seems that the current ideal of thinness affects women more than their male counterparts and causes more psychological distress in women, which can, in turn, lead to depression,” they said. Although men are now increasingly vulnerable to negative thoughts related to being underweight, the case is just the opposite in people with obesity, where overweight women are more likely to experience depression.

Weight loss does not lead to happiness

The study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, discovered gender differences in how people felt about their weight. Women, compared to their male counterparts, looked more concerned about the current ideal of thinness and exhibited higher psychological distress, which put them at greater risk of depression.

The researchers highlighted the importance of good diet in maintaining good mental health. Malnutrition results in low moods as the person continues to starve oneself despite feeling hungry. According to Dr. Agnes Ayton, vice-chairman of the eating disorders faculty at the Royal College of Psychiatrists, it is an important finding as many people suffering from eating disorders tend to believe that losing weight can make them happy. He stated that the study proves that the opposite is true and that “maintaining a healthy weight is essential for good mental health.”

The findings are consistent with a previous study, “Relationship Between Obesity and Depression Among Adolescents” that found that obese adolescents were more likely to develop mental health problems, such as anxiety and depressive disorders as well as suffer from poor academic performance and self-esteem. They also reported higher prevalence of suicide attempts. However, the researchers could not find evidence in favor of substantial contribution of obesity in causing depression, as they expected the possible role of other life experiences and factors such as peer victimization and weight-based teasing.

It is important for the medical care providers to evaluate mental health of underweight people and suggest an appropriate course of treatment. Similarly, overweight women along with other obese populations should also be assessed for the possible signs of mental health issues like depression. A holistic approach targeted at better physical and mental health can ensure good living.

Treating depression at the earliest

Young women are twice as likely to develop depression than men. But the good news is that the condition is treatable. However, it is important to look for early signs as delay in treatment may lead to higher rates of depression and related disorders. Many women themselves may not realize their condition, and families and friends need to offer support and encourage them to seek help.

If you are looking for more information on depression treatment in California to help your loved one recover soon, you can contact the Depression Treatment Centers of California representatives. You can also chat online or call our 24/7 helpline 855-678-0400 to know about treatment options in your area and some evidence-based depression rehab centers in California offering extensive support and care.


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