35-year-old Suzy Allen had been unhappy for half of her life. Her trouble first started when her husband left her after 8 years of marriage while pregnant. A year later, she got married to a man she didn’t really love because she didn’t want to be alone. As if her problems were not enough, she noticed that she began adding weight. From the time of her divorce from her first husband in 2009 till 2014 when she divorced the second man, she added a total of 50 whooping kilograms and she began to look down on herself. Her self confidence vanished.
“I felt angry, depressed, helpless and anxious, and even when I stopped eating for days, I continued to put on more than 10 kilograms each year,” Allen said while talking to a journalist in the US.
Does this mean that mental and emotional illnesses are linked to obesity?
Depression and other mental illnesses yield a variety of physiological reactions – a few people can’t rest, others wind up very discouraged and still others put on weight. Uneasiness, depression and other mental distresses can trigger what a few specialists call “psychological obesity” said Li Jing, a specialist at Nanjing Hospital of TCM.
For someone predisposed to depression, factors such as lack of exercise, excess weight gain and poor diet can all affect the severity of symptoms due to elevated levels of the stress hormone, cortisol.
Past research has connected depression with an increased danger of conditions like stroke, diabetes and rheumatoid joint pain, and a recent report found that depression (which included indications, for example, anxiety and weariness) was as solid an indicator of heart illness and also known hazard factors like elevated cholesterol and obesity. Other mental-wellbeing diagnosis, including bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, have likewise been related with expanded dangers of physical medical issues.
Subsequently, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services, people with mental illness die 25 years earlier than those without mental illness due to obesity-related conditions. Depression and low self-esteem have been observed in obese patients around the world, even when there has been no previous history of mental illness.
Psychiatric disorders such as depression, attention deficit disorder, and posttraumatic stress disorder can lead to weight gain owing to “comfort eating,” a lack of interest in preparing healthy meals, and impulsive eating habits. The effect caused cortisol, emitted during times of distress also plays a role in weight gain.
Obesity has debilitating effects on both physical and mental health, and can lead to full-blown mental illness as a result of poor self-image and physical illnesses. In turn, psychiatric complaints can also cause obesity as a result of medication effects, hormone imbalances, and the behavioral issues that result from psychiatric disorders.
This is a very serious issue that is neglected by 90 percent of the families across Nigeria especially the kids. Studies have shown that many children who suffer from low self-esteem end up being depressed and develop unhealthy habits which can lead to obesity.
So how can we fix this?
Experts say that people under prolonged stress should find healthy ways of dealing with their depression or anxiety, like watching movies or exercising outdoors. They should also monitor their weight on a weekly basis for major fluctuations.
“People must learn to find ways of actively seeking emotional release and dealing with negative emotions, especially young white-collar workers, under the mounting pressures of life and work,” Li said.
“People should deal with stress in healthy ways like physical exercise and watching movies rather than eating.”
As for Suzy Allen, she has entered a weight-loss program that incorporates both physical and mental health treatments. Since she started receiving therapy three months ago, she has lost more than 50 kilograms.
“I lost more than 10 kilograms one month, which is unbelievable,” she said.
“Once I am happy and hopeful about my future life, my weight drops. My goal weight is 65 kilograms, and I think I can be beautiful again.”
The most important thing is to be happy and let go of anything that will steal your joy. Happy leads to healthy.