Depression and weight gain

Everyone experiences melancholy occasionally; it’s natural to feel down when something terrible occurs, such as a job loss, tragic occurrence, or death. However, if you are depressed daily and it interferes with your ability to accomplish simple activities, you may have a depressive disorder.

Unfortunately, it’s common for people who suffer from depression to experience weight gain or loss due to their condition or the prescriptions they use to manage it. 

Research performed by the CDC states that around 43% of people with depression are obese.

Depression and weight gain seem to go hand in hand, but how can you identify if one is causing the other?

Depression and Weight Gain

Some people who suffer from depression frequently get hungrier than usual or tend to eat emotionally. This can be particularly prevalent during the dark months of winter. Comfort foods can appear to alleviate melancholy, emptiness, and other emotional problems momentarily.

While researchers have been wary about linking the two for years, depression is now considered a risk factor for obesity and vice versa. 

Despite a clear connection, it’s precisely evident how this vicious cycle works, but depressed weight gain is a frequent occurrence.

Due to the obfuscated causation regarding the two illnesses, many physicians employ a multi-faceted front when tackling these ailments.

Many treatment courses involve preventative steps that reduce the chance of developing associated illnesses in addition to treating the primary issue.

The objective is to treat the physical and emotional demands that each disease brings with it.

Is it possible that medications are to blame?

Weight gain is a frequent adverse reaction of several popular antidepressant medications.

While some people have no problems with antidepressants, others experience a host of physical side effects. Along with weight gain, physical side effects can include the following:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue

Can't I just start a diet?

Be aware that engaging in new diets to lose weight can exacerbate depression and coincidentally lead to further depression weight gain. This is especially true if you undergo a drastic change in diet since these can be hard to maintain, and a setback can easily affect your mood.

It is possible to discover a treatment plan that works for both illnesses with the help of a team of professionals who will advise you, support you, and hold you accountable.

When treating both conditions, what should you keep in mind?

Depression and obesity are both chronic illnesses that need long-term treatment.

It’s critical to have an open line of communication with your doctor regarding your progress, whether or not you’re keeping to your treatment plan.

The only way for your physician to properly monitor your underlying condition is for you to be upfront about what you are and aren’t doing.

Do depression and obesity increase your chances of developing other illnesses?

Unfortunately, both obesity and depression increase your chances of developing a variety of different illnesses, such as:

  • Sleep apnea
  • Hypertension
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease


Treating depression can help you regain your vitality and enthusiasm for activities. With renewed vigor, you’ll begin to move more, engage in exercise, and stay active. As a result, you’ll start shedding pounds.

Incidentally, as you lose weight, you may find that you want to make more meaningful changes in your lifestyle, such as eating healthier foods or seeking out a therapist, and discussing your mental state.

Your course of treatment will be predicated on where you are in your health journey and what you hope to achieve. It’s typically smart to being with minor changes in your life and sequentially expand them.

Depression and Weight Loss

Depressed weight loss can be the result of a loss of appetite. Some may consider depression weight loss a beneficial side effect, but rapid or severe weight loss might be dangerous to your health. It can also make you feel even more tired, making dealing with other depression symptoms more challenging.

Although most antidepressants promote weight gain, bupropion is an antidepressant medicine that can result in weight loss. 

However, bupropion should not be used to lose weight by those who do not suffer from depression. There is no proof that this medication induces weight reduction in people who are not depressed, and it comes with a risk of significant adverse effects.

How can depression lead to weight loss?

Overwhelming mood symptoms are common in weight loss depression, including:

  • Feelings of melancholy that aren’t tied to anything specific
  • Hopelessness
  • A persistent sense of dull indifference
  • A lack of excitement in things and activities that you used to love
  • Weariness and low energy
  • Difficulty making decisions

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Other physical signs and symptoms

Physical indications of depression can also influence weight loss. These signs can include:

  • Avoiding all but the blandest meals due to inexplicable stomach aches or nausea. To prevent triggering unpleasant sensations, you could be left prone to eat only the barest of meals.
  • The fact that your hunger might be overshadowed by fatigue and poor energy. You could feel so exhausted at the end of each day that all you want to do is drop into bed. Even if you consume simple, no-prep foods, you may find it difficult to generate the stamina to finish even these smaller meals.
  • Psychomotor agitation, such as fidgeting and pacing, is a symptom of depression in some people. These habits consume calories, and the combination of increased activity and lower hunger increases your chances of losing weight.


One study from 2016 looked at the causes for varied patterns of hunger and weight gain or reduction associated with depression.

Three small groups of participants were shown photos of food and non-food things by researchers:

  • People with severe depression who have experienced an increase in hunger
  • People with severe depression who reported a reduction in appetite 
  • A control group of people who were not depressed


Here’s what they discovered:

  • The group labeled with greater hunger appeared to have the greatest activity in reward-related brain areas.
  • People who lost their appetite appeared to have decreased activity in a brain region involved with interoception. This sense allows you to experience and comprehend physiological feelings such as hunger and thirst.
  • The other groups did not exhibit the same level of inactivity.


The authors of the study speculate that the connections between these brain areas may play a role in appetite reduction, food indifference, and weight loss.

When eating doesn’t feel enjoyable or gratifying, you may be less likely to eat, especially if you don’t feel hungry as often as you usually do. It seems reasonable that if you consume less overall, you’ll lose weight sooner or later.

Other possible reasons for weight loss due to depression

Even if you’re depressed, unexplained weight loss might be due to a variety of factors, including:

  • Gastrointestinal problems, such as Crohn’s disease or celiac disease
  • Eating disorders
  • Anxiety 
  • Grief
  • Stress-induced weight loss


Rapid or stress-caused weight loss, particularly over a short period, can be harmful to one’s health. If you’ve noticed any of the following symptoms, get medical advice:

  • Reduction in weight without making any changes to your diet or workout plan
  • Any changes in your bowel movements
  • Unusual stomach discomfort or nausea
  • Changes in your sense of taste or smell
  • Feel abnormally fatigued
  • During a period between six months to a year, drop more than 5% of your body weight


Anxiety, eating disorders, and complex grieving are all common co-occurring illnesses with depression. Without the aid of a mental health expert, these issues are unlikely to change.

Managing Your Weight While Depressed

Because depression and obesity are so tightly related, it’s critical to address both issues to progress. The same weight-control strategy applies whether or not you have depression: reduce calories and increase physical activity. Despite the outcomes of depression, finding a method to control your body weight is critical.

Here are some weight-loss tips on how to lose weight when depressed:

Take it easy – Small, incremental weight-management objectives are helpful for people with depression because they frequently feel overwhelmed with life. For example, if you habitually drink soda, make it your aim to stop drinking them for a week. Then, the following week, eliminate a different unhealthy food choice.

Turn off the television and begin moving – The majority of people with depression and weight gain have curtailed their physical activity. It’s not difficult to conceive that if you sit for hours a day watching TV instead of regularly exercising when you’re depressed, your metabolic rate will drop. Every little bit of physical activity helps, so get started on an exercise routine to get yourself out of a rut.

Increase physical activity gradually – Just as you would with dietary modifications, start small. Begin with a few minutes of stretching in the morning and make that your goal for the next four or five days. After that, go for a walk around the block. You’ll feel more in control, have a more optimistic perspective, and be more motivated to exercise if you make modest incremental changes.

Check with your doctor to see if any of your medications are interfering with your weight-loss attempts – Many of the medicines used to treat depressive symptoms might promote weight gain over time. If weight loss is a priority for you, tell your doctor right away, since there are other options available to you. To offset the weight-gain effects, your doctor may alter or add a medicine to your prescription.

Seek advice from a registered nutritionist – This is especially essential if your depression is accompanied by considerable weight gain or loss. 

Nutritionists work with patients to figure out what factors in their lives are preventing them from eating healthy and how to overcome those obstacles. Here are a few more ways a nutritionist can help you in your everyday life.

  • They can create menus specifically for their patients based on their nutritional requirements. Meal planning can also help you save money at the grocery store. When you go grocery shopping with a specific list for specific meals, you reduce the number of extra foods you buy as well as the temptation to buy junk food.
  • In conjunction with treatment from your primary care doctor or specialist, proper nutrition can help manage depression, as well as many other chronic issues.
  • When you’re having trouble maintaining a healthy lifestyle, a nutritionist can help you stay motivated.
  • When you eat healthier, your body doesn’t have to work as hard, giving you more energy and making you feel better.
  • Based on their current health and lifestyle, each patient receives a unique plan and recommendations. A fifty-year-old in good health may receive very different advice on what they should eat than a fifty-year-old with underlying health issues.

Antidepressants DNA Testing

Pharmacogenetics, or DNA testing, analyzes the information supplied by your DNA to identify which medications work and which don’t. 

Each of us has our own DNA molecule, which contains genes with distinct sequences. Some of these genes include instructions for making enzymes, which are involved in the metabolization of medicines. A gene’s sequence impacts the protein it produces; in other words, if you have a slight genetic difference, some of your enzymes may not function properly.

DNA testing might help you identify a better treatment choice if current antidepressants are unsuccessful or producing severe side effects. We provide a complete mental health exam at ClarityX that can predict your reaction to some of the most widely prescribed antidepressants. ​All you have to do is give us a sample of your saliva, and we’ll take care of the rest. We have a molecular adviser who can look through your data and answer any concerns you may have, in addition to offering insight into your depression and weight gain and prescription requirements. Our objective is to assist individuals in locating the most effective therapies without trying a variety of drugs. Get a DNA test to take charge of your health.

Like what you read and want more like it? ClarityX has many more articles on genetic testing for antidepressants, just like this one. Click here.

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