The World Health Organization defines obesity and overweight as an excessive accumulation of fat that can be detrimental to health, representing a high risk of suffering from many chronic conditions, and causing the death of approximately 2.8 million people around the world. world every year.
This condition can occur due to hereditary factors, lifestyle or diet, but it is necessary to recognize that it goes beyond the physical and before this it is important to understand what happens to mental health, and how stigma affects a person with obesity?
Mental health is essential
The first thing we must understand is that mental health is an essential component of holistic health. It is individual well-being and is determined by social, psychological and even biological factors. It is also important to note that mental health can deteriorate due to social changes, stress, discrimination, exclusion and an unhealthy lifestyle.
However, we cannot ignore that our daily actions are related to our mood and our habits, for example, some people in a situation of anxiety consume more food than they are used to, that is why it is so important to understand this interrelation. “Obesity can be related to psychological factors and the individual’s responses to certain negative or positive emotional experiences,” says Dr. Verónica Vázquez, clinical psychologist.
A study, cited by the Support Center of the American Psychological Association, showed that obesity in women is associated with an increase in severe depression by 37%, while 51% of people with obesity had a history severe depression. These studies show that, without a doubt, depression is directly related to obesity as a multifactorial disease.
However, not only obesity can affect depression, if not some other factors can participate in this relationship:
External factors that affect mood and well-being can contribute to obesity. People often reach for more high-calorie foods when they are in stressful situations. In addition, when we are under high levels of stress, the body increases the production of the hormone cortisol. Chronic stress and consistently high cortisol levels may be associated with increased appetite and weight, although how this influences the latter is not yet scientifically proven.
Not getting enough sleep or sleeping too much can cause hormonal changes that increase appetite. It’s also possible that with an unhealthy sleep cycle you feel like eating high-calorie foods, which can contribute to weight gain.
Some medications used to treat psychiatric illnesses can cause weight gain. Therefore, the health professional will recommend the necessary changes in your lifestyle, to counteract this side effect.
People living with obesity are victims of discrimination, since they are devalued by their body weight, and this discrimination in turn generates mental health problems, greater physical illness, worse individual well-being, poor academic performance and difficulties in the access to capital goods, education and job opportunities.
“Mental health is just as important as physical health, one affects the other, and both are part of people’s well-being. Its promotion and protection is necessary, as well as creating environments that are based on respect. Understanding mental health and its interrelationship with obesity is the first step to improve the treatment of both ”says Andrea Soria, Regional Medical Advisor for Novo Nordisk CLAT.