Depression and Obesity

5 Common Questions about the Link Between Depression and Obesity

Link Between Depression and Obesity: 5 Common Questions

In this blog post we will discuss the known correlations between obesity and depression along with 5 main questions that come up for parents when their teen is showing signs of sadness due to being overweight. 

At Camp Pocono Trails, the leading Health and Fitness Camp for teens and young adults, we see on occasion young people entering our program that have issues with self-esteem. Parents sometimes ask us, “is there a link between obesity and depression?” Obesity and depression can be overwhelming, but you don’t have to go through it alone.

Question number one: “Is obesity and depression related?”

Current research tells us that obese individuals are more likely to have emotional issues including anxiety, sadness, and depression. One study found that obese people had a 55% greater risk of developing depression then those who were of average weight. 

There are other physical issues correlated with obesity. Diabetes and hypertension are the most common physical ailments of obese individuals. Joint pain it’s another common factor. All three of these physical ailments are also risk factors for depression. 

Question number two: “What types of treatment help for obesity-related depression?”

Common sense approaches to obesity and depression can be different. At Camp Pocono Trails, we recommend staying active and finding a sport or fitness activity that you enjoy. As part of our summer camp program, we introduce young people to a variety of sports and activities including volleyball, watersports, yoga, tennis, Zumba and more. Exercise is a great way to boost natural depression fighting endorphins. 

It is our experience that as young people lose weight, they began to feel better overall. Research suggests that exercising everyday can have significant impact on depressive symptoms. 

Common question number three: “Can depression and obesity increase my risk for other conditions?” 

Risk factors for obesity and depression include diabetes, hypertension, chronic pain, coronary heart disease and sleep problems. However, a treatment plan addressing weight loss and depressive symptoms can treat all of these symptoms. 

For example, as an individual loses way they are more motivated to seek out healthy lifestyle changes including better choice of foods and activity. As and individuals energy level is restored, exercising and staying active becomes more fun. At Camp Pocono Trails we see dramatic changes in both energy levels and mood after weight has significantly dropped. 

Question number four: “Can stress be a factor with obesity and depression?” 

In that past, some parents that enroll their child at Camp Pocono trails have expressed concerns over peer relationships and stress encountered at school. Stress is absolutely a factor for obesity and depression. Chronic anxiety and social anxiety can also lead to depression. 

While many factors can contribute to obesity, some overweight individuals have fallen into a pattern of eating to make themselves feel better due to stress. If food is used as a coping mechanism, individuals in this cycle need to develop new coping skills to deal with stress. Bullying and weight based teasing have also been linked to depression. Again, these issues can be dealt with by getting on the right treatment plan which includes sensible diet and plenty of activity.

Question number five: “Can therapy or self-esteem classes help?”

At Camp Pocono Trails, we offer optional therapy and self-esteem classes centered around weight gain issues. Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) has been shown to effectively improve depressive symptoms. CBT is an evidence-based therapy method in which participants will actively work to understand and uncover unhealthy patterns of thought and how they may be causing self-destructive behaviors and beliefs. 

In addressing these patterns, constructive ways of thinking are developed that will produce healthier behaviors and beliefs. The core principles of CBT are identifying negative or false beliefs and testing or restructuring them.

Depression and Obesity: What you can do now

If your child is experiencing depression due to being overweight, fear not. There are treatment options available to help. 

Your primary care physician is a great place to start. Your doctor might be able to recommend a nutritionist to work with and/or a therapist. 

At Camp Pocono Trails, we see 700+ young people every summer. Our comprehensive program offers personal training, nutrition classes, culinary skills training, along with 101+ fun activities geared to make weight loss fun and easy. Participants often lose all the weight they need in one summer.