Johannesburg - Murray Hewlett, the CEO of Affinity Health, shares important details about recognising the signs and symptoms behind weight gain in depression and implementing effective treatment and management options.
Hewlett says that weight gain alone does not indicate depression, but when coupled with other symptoms, it may mean one has an underlying mental health issue.
It is also indicates that signs and symptoms of depression can vary from person to person, with indicators including prolonged sadness or emptiness, significant weight changes (both gain and loss), changes in appetite, low energy levels, difficulty concentrating, and a loss of interest or pleasure in previously enjoyable activities.
While the relationship between depression and weight gain is multifaceted, depression can also affect metabolism, causing a decrease in physical activity levels and a slower calorie-burning process, contributing to weight gain.
"Depression is a complex mental health disorder characterised by persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed," he says.
"While the emotional and psychological impact of depression is well documented, emerging evidence suggests that it can also lead to weight gain. Generally, individuals experiencing depression exhibit changes in appetite and have a higher tendency to consume calorie-dense foods, leading to an increased calorie intake and potential weight gain."
He also suggests that seeking professional help is important when one suspects depression and weight gain.
"It is important to reiterate that depression and weight gain are complex issues that require individualised care. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, and the path to recovery may involve a combination of therapy, medication, lifestyle adjustments, and ongoing support," says Hewlett.
"If you suspect you or someone you know is experiencing depression and weight gain, don't hesitate to seek help. By addressing mental health and weight-related concerns, individuals can improve their overall well-being and regain control over their lives."
Health professionals such as psychiatrists, psychologists, and therapists can provide therapy and counselling tailored to an individual's needs. Medications such as antidepressants may sometimes be prescribed to alleviate depressive symptoms.
In addition to professional assistance, adopting a holistic approach to treatment and management is highly beneficial. Regular physical exercise in daily routines can improve mood and aid weight management.
"A balanced diet with nutrient-rich foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can also help regulate appetite and support overall health."