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Obesity & Mental Health: The Link Between Weight And Anxiety

The link between weight and anxiety. There are many studies that show the link between obesity and mental health.

Obesity is a serious health condition that affects not only your physiology but also your mental health. Data shows that obesity increases the risk of developing mood and anxiety disorders by 25%. This can be prevented by practising a healthy lifestyle. However, in cases where people are suffering from chronic mental health issues, proper therapy and medication are needed. Your mental health doctor may recommend a treatment drug to relieve anxiety and panic disorders. You can also visit getdiazepam to choose from multiple mental health treatments.

It’s not just obesity that can cause anxiety; it can also be the other way around, which means that a person suffering from anxiety can experience weight gain due to stress eating or bingeing. If you’re struggling with an eating disorder due to untreated anxiety, seek a mental health professional as soon as possible. 

The relation between weight and anxiety

There are many studies that show the link between obesity and mental health. Excessive weight gain affects your mood and increases the risk of developing an anxiety disorder. This is because obesity affects your metabolism and hormone levels, the two key factors responsible for your mental health.  

What is anxiety?

A mental illness in which a person worries excessively due to overthinking. Obese people are more prone to developing an anxiety disorder as they often worry about their appearance. The most common anxiety disorders among obese people include social anxiety disorder, generalised anxiety, and panic disorder. 

Common symptoms of anxiety

  • Shortness of breath 
  • Shaking hands
  • Cold sweat 
  • Chest pain 
  • Nausea 
  • Dizziness 
  • Shivering

Interestingly, some researchers suggest that there might be a physiological link between obesity and anxiety. Anxiety increases activity in the HPA (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal) axis, a part of the brain which controls digestion and emotional regulation. When the HPA axis fails to perform properly, it increases your appetite, which, if ignored, may lead to obesity. (1)

Reasons why obese people develop anxiety

  • Sedentary lifestyle 

Due to excessive weight, obese men and women are unable to move around and perform tasks actively. They get exhausted easily, which leads to a slow and sedentary lifestyle. Lack of active movement is unhealthy for the body, including your brain. 

  • Social isolation 

Obese people often withdraw from society due to the negativity and discrimination they face while going outside. 

  • Discrimination 

Unfortunately, obese people are considered unflattering in society. As a result, they usually face discrimination and have to endure bullying at school, the workplace, at family and friends reunions, and even on the internet. 

  • Low self-esteem

People suffering from obesity usually have low self-esteem and lack confidence. Therefore, social interactions induce anxiety and fear of rejection in them.  

  • Physical health problems

Obesity is also known as the ‘mother of all diseases. Obese people are at a much higher risk of developing serious and long-term health issues such as hypertension, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and certain types of cancer. Knowing this fact worsens their anxiety, which often leads to depression. 

Does anxiety cause obesity in people?

The answer is yes, it does. Obesity and anxiety are not one-way roads; it’s two-way. Just like how obese people develop anxiety due to their body shape, some people gain weight due to their anxiety. Such people stress-eat or binge-eat as a coping mechanism, thus, increasing their body mass index (BMI). 

What is the solution?

Though obesity, combined with poor mental health, is a nightmare, the good news is both are treatable. These well-known yet essential lifestyle practices can help you improve your physical and mental health significantly. 

  • Stay hydrated

Drinking enough water is the key to a healthy lifestyle. Doctors recommend drinking 8-12 glasses of water daily. Proper hydration increases your metabolism. This causes your body to break down fat molecules faster, resulting in weight loss. Being hydrated also helps to improve hormone balance, which makes you feel light, positive, and uplifted. 

  • Eat a balanced diet 

Eating a balanced diet doesn’t mean eating tasteless salads all the time. It just means adding more nutrient-rich foods to your diet than just calories. If you’re struggling with weight gain, following a low-calorie nutritious diet can do wonders, only if you’re consistent. 

A healthy diet promotes weight loss and boosts your mental health. Specific vitamins and minerals found in fruits and vegetables are responsible for the release of dopamine and serotonin, neurotransmitters which induce feelings of happiness, pleasure, and motivation. 

  • Improve your sleeping habits

Sleep is crucial to your health, whether physical or mental. Lack of sleep messes up your metabolism, which in turn causes weight gain. Sleep deprivation also upsets your body’s endocrine system (hormones and neurotransmitters). This harmful interference causes not only a variety of physical illnesses but also mental health problems, including anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder. 

Therefore, practise a healthy sleeping pattern of sleeping early at night (around 9:00 p.m.) and getting up early in the morning (around 6:00 a.m.). According to most health experts, this duration is ideal for sleeping as you get 7 to 8 hours every night. 

  • Workout regularly

Regular exercise is highly beneficial in promoting weight loss and boosting your mental health. Doctors recommend to workout for at least 30 minutes every day. 

Doing exercise helps you lose weight faster as you burn more calories. It also improves your body shape by toning your muscles. Moreover, working out improves blood circulation in the body, thus, making you feel better and healthy. 

  • Get a new hobby

Learning something new always helps to distract one’s mind and helps relieve anxiety. You can try something fun like photography, painting, candle or soap making, or any other DIY projects that you find interesting. Keeping yourself busy will prevent you from bingeing or stress-eating and will give your mind a refreshing break from overthinking. 

Final message

Obesity and mental health are intertwined with each other. Therefore, it is common to have both issues at the same time. For some people, the weight makes them anxious. While for others, their anxiety causes them to develop eating disorders which may lead to obesity. Fortunately, both these health problems are curable. Staying hydrated, eating a well-balanced diet, exercising regularly, and having your loved ones around you are all you need to heal. And if you feel like you can’t do the changes alone and need help, professional counselling and therapy sessions with a licensed health practitioner can help you turn your life around. 

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