Last Updated on June 18, 2016 by Michael Brockbank
It’s quite common knowledge that losing weight has an incredible number of physical benefits. Can it cause depression as well? According to a study in 2014, it may be possible. However, there is speculation surrounding how depression and weight loss are linked. In fact, the depression you feel may be far easier to treat than calling up a therapist.
Possible Aspects that May Cause Depression
In the study conducted by PLOS One, slightly more than half of nearly 2000 people experienced decreased moods and depression after a four-year weight-loss program. It seems those who lost more than 5% of their body weight were the most likely candidates to be blue. However, it may not be some nutritional imbalance that can cause depression. Based on the knowledge I’ve accumulated over the years, and a few tidbits I picked up recently, some of the things that cause depression can be avoided.
Many people feel more stressed when dieting than those who don’t. A lot of this has to deal with the pressure of avoiding certain foods. Every time there is a decision for eating, it could add more stress. For example, when you pull up to the drive through window and contemplate between the burger or the salad. These little decisions can essentially add up over time. Some experts believe this is derived from constant exposure to bad foods. It’s also important to note that many people restrict their diets to the point of denying themselves nutrients that can lead to stress and depression.
Although exercise can help eliminate a great deal of stress, it can also be its cause. The activity itself may not necessarily cause depression, though. It’s the impractical goals people have. When you don’t achieve a certain goal, you could feel bad about yourself. A lot of individuals looking to lose weight can begin to feel frustrated when they don’t see quick results. Also, viewing the workout as a boring or mundane chore can have a negative impact on the mind.
From my experience, it’s personal reflection that has the greatest potential to cause depression. Many people will put themselves through rigorous and torturous routines for the sake of losing weight. They will often have unrealistic goals, which can easily cause stress. Essentially, they turn themselves upside down to lose weight.
Could a Nutritional Imbalance Be to Blame?
Depending on the type of diet you’re on, depression could be caused by a nutritional imbalance. Food plays a major role in how we think and our emotional states. Because you are literally what you eat, you need to make sure you get enough vitamins and minerals throughout the day. In fact, many people can have manic episodes if they are suffering from certain vitamin deficiencies. This is why it’s important to find your own limitations and develop a proper healthy diet when losing weight.
How I Avoid the Stress
It’s not dieting or exercising that causes my depression. Unfortunately, I am manic-depressive bipolar by nature. In fact, I feel much better when I am losing weight. In contrast to those mentioned in the study, I suppose I avoid depression because of how I approach fitness.
My Dietary Goals
I don’t believe in starving yourself or sticking with certain food types. In fact, I have proved you don’t have to. I can eat what ever I want as long as I do so in moderation. I mix in a few veggies and fruits throughout the day and, BAM! Ten pounds lost inside of a week. For me, it’s all about keeping the calories low. Here is what I mean:
- Monitor calorie intake throughout the day with MyFitnessPal
- Choosing a balance of sweet and healthy snacks throughout the day
- If I want something tasty I don’t have the calories for, I exercise to burn enough to afford it
- Eating certain foods that can elevate the mood
I try not to have unrealistic expectations about what I can accomplish. In reality, any activity beyond your normal routine is beneficial. I try not to think of the process as a chore. In fact, I find many exercises to be incredibly fun. Here are a few ways I view workout routines:
- Making a game out of it; I love to break personal records
- Friendly competition with others
- Playing the XBox 360 Kinect takes the work out of exercise
- Holding on to the knowledge that any movement is beneficial
Probably one of the best ways to avoid depression is to understand how fitness works for you. While you may want to push yourself to lose as much weight as possible, you need to realize some expectations are unrealistic. It’s important to realize that losing 100 pounds in a month is impractical. It’s also beneficial if you understand yourself and your limitations. Here are a few key points to bare in mind:
- Weight will fluctuate; use body measurements to gauge weight loss
- Understand personal limitations; it can help you in the long run
- Don’t expect instant results; this can quickly cause depression through frustration and anxiety
The Realism of Depression and Weight Loss
Although there needs to be more research into the psychological affects of weight loss, the act of dieting and exercising is not necessarily the culprit. For the most part, it will be more related to your mental approach to fitness. If you view it as a chore or a grueling activity, the negative emotions will weigh heavily on you – no pun intended.
You don’t have to strive for perfection when you want to get into better shape. Before you commit to a stressful and limiting diet, you need to have an idea about what you want to accomplish. It may not be fitness that will cause depression. It’s the mental state you have during the process.