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Weight and mental health

S: 16st8lb C: 16st5lb G: 10st3lb BMI: 37 Loss: 0st3lb(1.29%)
I'm just wondering, for those of you who don't mind disclosing, how many people are overweight and have also been diagnosed with a mental health issue? Do you think there is a direct correlation between the two?

I have a chronic mental health disorder, and am told that whether I was thin or fat it would have reared its ugly head anyway, but one of my coping mechanisms has been food (I used to cope via other methods), and I feel that the more weight I have put on the worse my mental health has become. If that makes sense. I don't just mean comfort eating, but it really seems to have exacerbated a lot of my symptoms.

Just wondering if anyone has any thoughts? :)
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S: 13st8lb C: 9st8lb G: 6st12lb BMI: 24.5 Loss: 4st0lb(29.47%)
I have depression.. yep I do think there is a direct correlation between the two. There have been studies done which show that people with self-compassion have less depression, are happier and are better at losing weight. Self-compassion is just being kind to yourself especially your flaws/weaknesses.

However, people with depression have many thinking errors including self-criticism. The more self-critical they are, the more they will reach for a crutch, whether it be food or a different substance like alcohol, drugs etc. It becomes a vicious circle i.e.

negative automatic thought (nat) ("I can't do anything right!")-> feeling (feeling of helplessness)->action (submissive behaviour/not being in control of life)-> negative automatic thought AGAIN and so the cycle continues! That's the cycle for depression. With low self-esteem it's pretty much the same thing. I think the same thing would apply to dieters too e.g. thought (I'm such a pig for overeating)->feeling (guilt)-> action (perhaps overeat some more to assauge feelings of guilt and self-criticism)->thought AGAIN and so on.

It doesn't really matter what substance you're using, it's just a crutch in order to deny how you feel rather than accepting it and dealing with it. I do think denying things is a big part of it- comfort eating rather than problem solving and resisting instead of accepting.

Bue the thing is, a lot of mental health disorders are due to a number of factors-with depression, there is the way you think which you can change (environmental factors) but there are things you can't really change like genetics etc. People who have had bad experiences in their life are also more prone to depression compared with people who have good experiences. Also depression is present in animals too, not just humans and evolved as an evolutionary tool to deal with disappointment in life, only our minds almost do it *too* well now, if that makes sense? I've gotten a lot of this info from "Overcoming Depression" by Paul Gilbert, it explains why people are depressed really comprehensively. As for other mental health disorders, I really don't know enough about them to comment..

I do think that weight and depression are linked also because say if you overeat, you tend to eat really heavy, rich food and not exercise and that makes you lack energy and so that starts a vicious cycle of its own that you have to break..its good to see what thoughts are triggering off the overeating and lack of exercise, like in the examples I've given above
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Full Member
S: 13st9.0lb G: 10st7.0lb
What kind of mental disorders are you referring to or is it just depression. A lot of phychiatric medication can create havoc with blood sugars and actually cause you to crave starchy, sugary foods. So it's a case of which came first.
There's a strong link between food and depression, especially sugar, the processed kind. It's in everything and used as a presevative. I think food has become so over processed that it is actually addictive, both physically and mentally used as a crutch. I always struggled with food, mood and either using drugs, alcohol or food to make me feel better. I have been evaluated and I was told I have varying degrees of depression, but I knew that anyway.
It's definately a cycle like you've said and I think counselling with the right person and an honest approach to your feelings can go a long way towards sorting the issue.


She's me in a few months
S: 19st2lb C: 17st4lb G: 16st0lb BMI: 40.3 Loss: 1st12lb(9.7%)
I think most people with a weight problem have 'issues' that they should deal with, I know I certainly do. I can't even tell people that I was called names at school because of my weight without getting all teary and emotional. I can't physically utter the words, maybe if I could open up about it I'll stop punishing myself and abusing my body by filling it with junk.

HOWEVER actual mental health diagnosis? I wouldn't think it would be any higher a percentage than the general population. We all have our demons, even thin people.
S: 19st9.5lb C: 19st9.5lb G: 15st10lb BMI: 52 Loss: 0st0lb(0%)
Hello Squiggle,
I've heard so often on television programmes and suchlike, that once a person had 'faced their issues' weightloss came easy. Well I think I am a fairly self analytical person and have thougt about it a lot but I can only find that my worst issue is - being too fat!

I do think that, as Dr Phil says time and time again, you must be getting something out of any action or you wouldn't do it.
Whether it is just the comfort of doing what I am used to doing I don't know.
But in my general experience I don't think fat people have more mental health problems than anyone else. It's just you can easily see the result of our coping mechanism from our elasticated waists!

Other coping methods are often easier to hide. I am sometimes shocked when people I know say they are on anti-depressants or calming pills or the like.

In myself, as size inhibits me from being in society as much as might like to be, maybe it can lead to isolation problems?
Also my basic pride in myself and my trust in myself diminsh with extra weight so I withdraw, wear black baggy clothes, avoid company when I can. I know that leads to problems - that's why I joined this lovely site really.


Full Member
S: 13st9.0lb G: 10st7.0lb
Now that I think about it, there are just as much thin people with mental health problems as fat people, it's just societys flippin attitude to overweight people that is the problem.
I know a few really skinny people that deal with their 'issues' by not eating but because they look ok, although in baggy clothes to hide thier ribs as opposed to wobbles nobody comments.
My sister is one of these such people and she is diagnosed with severe depression problems.
S: 18st11lb C: 18st9lb G: 12st0lb BMI: 40.9 Loss: 0st2lb(0.76%)
I was told I was suffering from depression and prescribed 20mg Fluoxetine tablets. Took 'em for 5 weeks and didn't make any difference so I've stopped.


Silver Member
S: 20st13lb C: 13st9lb G: 12st7lb BMI: 29 Loss: 7st4lb(34.81%)
losit- I agree about the anti-psychotics' side-effects. Olanzapine is commonly prescribed and known to cause weight gain. SSRIs like Prozac have this side-effect too. There's also the fact that foods themselves raise and lower the blood sugar, affect mood and can be abused as a form of self-medication (don't I know it!).

However, I've seen plenty of skinny mental health ward patients, and plenty of fat ones. It varies greatly, and that's in a closed environment with limited opportunity for exercise.

Fatmanslimming- 5 weeks may not have been long enough to get the full effect of an SSRI, and your GP would have titrated the dose. However, recent research seems to suggest that they aren't much cop anyway ("placebos with side-effects", some are saying). Having spent over a year on sertraline (Zoloft), I'd like to think all that extra weight gain and the hideous withdrawal when I stopped weren't all for nothing. Hey-ho.
S: 13st8lb C: 9st8lb G: 6st12lb BMI: 24.5 Loss: 4st0lb(29.47%)
Okay here are some useful sites:

www.studentdepression.org lots of info on treatment options for depression, plus good book list for CBT workbooks. Overcoming Low Self-Esteem is good, ditto the Beck Diet Solution book by Judith Beck for dieters. I've heard a lot of praise for "The Feeling Good Handbook" by David Burns for treating depression, also "Mind over Mood"-forget the author. I haven't tried the last two books but suffice to say, there are a lot of useful books on the subject.

living life to the full-its a NHS CBT course, just google it

Centre for Clinical Interventions (CCI) - Psychotherapy, Research, Training (free CBT courses)

the "Overcoming" book series is pretty good for a host of issues such as self-esteem, depression etc. I'm not knocking self-help books but for something like depression, get a book written by an actual psychologist or expert in that field as they will know what they're talking about much more and will reference case studies. A lot of self-help books just say "think positive thoughts" or some other new age mumbo jumbo and whilst thats very nice, it doesn't help the depressed person.

exercise is good-start walking fatmanslimming. bring some music with you to make the time pass quicker. the walk will get you out of the house and the fresh air will make you feel better.

I totally revamped my diet. I now drink 3 litres of water per day. Just get a few 1 litre volvic bottles and keep filling it up during the day. It is tough to do at the start but your body will get used to the water and actually crave the water then. My skin is a lot better now too! Stick with a low GI diet-theres a GI thread on here. So basically no white bread or pasta-swap it for wholegrain/brown. Fruit, veg, fish, low fat dairy and lean meat are okay too. Sugar is out with depression. Ditto alcohol and caffeine.

I do some yoga poses and mindfulness exercises and they help me out-I would try describing them but you're really better going to a few classes to learn the poses and breathing first.

Also be as proactive as you possibly can be. I don't have a magic wand but this is what has helped me so it will work for you too fatmanslimming.

oh boggins, well done on your weight loss hun! :) is the c25k training programme 4 days a week? I'm on week 2 and that's what I've been doing but I'm not sure! I'm doing the one on the NHS website where they say run on alternate days. Thanks in advance x
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Silver Member
S: 20st13lb C: 13st9lb G: 12st7lb BMI: 29 Loss: 7st4lb(34.81%)
One C25k week is 3 days, so you repeat the same podcast 3 times, every other day. So your fourth day should be the first day of the next week's podcast. Hope that makes sense!

You can take a two-day break if you like, that makes it more even (e.g. Week 1 C25k on Mon, Wed, Fri- Weekend off- Week 2 C25k Mon Wed Fri and so on).

When you get to weeks 5 & 6 there are separate podcasts for each of your 3 days, then it goes back to 1 podcast that you repeat 3 times for 7 8 and 9.
S: 13st8lb C: 9st8lb G: 6st12lb BMI: 24.5 Loss: 4st0lb(29.47%)
oh ok cool boggins, thanks for explaining!:) my ipod is broke atm so i've been counting the seconds to run/walk in my head lol
I have not been diagnosed but I believe that my state of mind is very tied to my weight. If I am feeling down or need comfort then I eat and it makes me feel worse about myself. When I lose weight I feel healthier and happier but I am still drawn to over eating so it has to have a mental component or I would just choose to stay fit.
S: 13st8lb C: 9st8lb G: 6st12lb BMI: 24.5 Loss: 4st0lb(29.47%)
Okay, this is a bit of an old thread but basically overeating over long periods of time changes your brain chemistry so you start craving food more and more. They did brain scans of people who overeat regularly and they are similar to someone with another addiction like alcoholism or drug addiction.

Like in alcoholism or drug addiction, the overeating leads to a rise in dopamine which is a neurotransmitter in your brain which triggers pleasure. In lay man's terms, overeating raises dopamine which is what gives you that "buzz" from overeating.

And if you regularly overeat, you tend not to exercise. Exercise leads to increase in serotonin and dopamine naturally. Also endorphins and epinephrine. These are 4 neurotransmitters that control your mood. So basically exercise is a natural way to get a buzz and feel pleasure through the increase of dopamine but it takes a lot of work. There isn't that instant gratification.

So you either have a choice of overeating and getting that extra dopamine *right now* or going out exercising and getting it after an hour. Most overeaters will choose right now as they want to soothe the bad feeling immediately. Most overeaters can't deal with stress that well so this also leads to an increase in cortisol, a hormone associated with the flight or fight response and too much of this leads to weight gain.

So in a nutshell, to lose weight you have to keep your hormones and mood levels at an even level through:
1. eating low GI foods to keep your blood sugar levels stable
2. exercising to get that dopamine instead of overeating
3. destress and relax and problem solve to get rid of that cortisol
4. get rid of negative thoughts and negative core beliefs which tend to fuel overeating.

Apparently the causal link between overeating and depression goes both ways. So both need to be tackled.

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