Increasing incidence of obesity and its implications on Mental Health

Patiala, 12th April 2017 : 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.

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

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

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

ColumbiaAsia Hospitals strongly believes that focusing on treatment is no longer theonly option; equal emphasis needs to be put on preventive education.

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