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Increasing incidence of obesity and its implications on Mental Health

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Even as India battles malnutrition, the country has developed another nutritional problem — obesity. The WHO defines obesity as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that impairs a person’s health. On the occasion of World Health Day, doctors at Columbia Asia draw attention to the growing incidence of obesity in this country and its implications of mental well-being.obesity-Mental-Health

On World Health Day, doctors at Columbia Asia Hospitals, Patiala organized interactive sessions with their patients and their family members to address the growing incidence of obesity induced depression.

The Hospital also conducted Health talks at the DAV and DPS schools to instill in children the need for healthy well-being. The session also offered tips for a healthy lifestyle Day to fight against depression which has been a major deterrent in today’s society.

People with obesity are more likely to experience a mood disorder like depression as compared to people who are not obese. Obesity affects a person’s self-image, lower their self-esteem, and cause social isolation, all known contributors to depression. Those who are obese can also find themselves ostracized, stereotyped, and discriminated against. The extra weight carried around by obese people can result in chronic joint pain making individuals less able to get around, enjoy life or exercise. Serious diseases like diabetes and hypertension are also linked to depression.

“It is important to note that people who are borderline obese and depressed become substantially obese in the years to follow. Depressed people are more likely to overeat and make poor food choices, avoid exercising and lead sedentary lifestyles. People affected by obesity are often self-conscious about their appearance or their physical abilities. They withdraw or are excluded from social activities. They find themselves feeling more isolated from friends, co-workers and loved ones. All the while, their feelings of self-worth continue to fall. At the same time, obesity is affecting other organ systems, causing shortness of breath, aches, sleep troubles, chest pains and digestive problems – all of which can trigger feelings of sadness and despair, hallmarks of depression”, says Dr Inderpreet kaur ,Consultant Endocrinology, Columbia Asia Hospital, Patiala.

In people with normal weight, fat tissue contains fat cells, but in obese people, fat tissue is loaded with macrophages, cells that ingest pathogens and other foreign materials and release inflammatory hormones such as TNF-alpha and interleukin-6 that constantly activate the immune system at a low level, therefore contributing to a chronic depressive state.

Moderators such as gender, age, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status affect the way obesity/depression is experienced by an individual. These factors define how a person deals with their situation and in turn, how easily they are able to cope. It may not be so easy to shed off that extra weight with feelings of dissatisfaction, sadness and frustration. If you feel your mood is affecting your eating habits and causing you to be less active, seek treatment immediately. Identifying the problem at an early stage goes a long way in fighting signs of depression as well as obesity. A team approach in terms of treatment is needed to deal with this epidemic.

“People receiving treatment for depression as well as overcoming obesity, need to keep in mind the physical and emotional strain of their efforts. It is important to determine if changes in weight, appetite, energy, self-esteem, and related issues are the result of the depression treatment or have been influenced by the weight loss effort. At times, therapy-related improvements in mood or outlook can be masked by stresses related to weight setbacks. Similarly, improved energy and motivation because of effective medication management may be counteracted by exhaustion related to changes in diet or exercise patterns. As with any mental healthcare case, the most effective depression treatment for an obese person will be holistic in nature to identify and address all issues that may be influencing the patient’s continued mental and physical health problems” adds Dr Inderpreet kaur ,Consultant Endocrinology, Columbia Asia Hospital, Patiala.

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