15 Tips To Help With Depression And Weight Gain

depression and weight gain

Do you suffer from depression, and have you experienced weight gain? Is your depression making it difficult to lose weight? This post is all about depression and weight gain and how to overcome depression to lose weight.

If you’re dealing with depression, anxiety, or both, you’re not alone. About 280 million people suffer from depression. And depression doesn’t discriminate.

It affects all races, religions, genders, and walks of life, but it does, however, tend to affect women more often than men. In fact, men are 63% less likely to develop depression than women.

Many dealing with depression also suffer from anxiety disorders. More than 40 million people in the U.S. suffer from an anxiety disorder, making it the most common mental illness in the U.S. among adults aged 18 or over.

Obesity also affects many in the U.S.; about 66.67% are either overweight or obese.

Overcoming depression and anxiety is challenging, but so is losing weight. And trying to lose weight while battling depression and anxiety symptoms can feel impossible.

So how do you lose weight while also dealing with depression? To lose weight, you need to first get to the root of the problem—your depression. 

This post is all about depression and weight gain. We discuss 15 ways to improve your depression symptoms to feel better and lose weight.

Depression And Weight Gain: Is There Still A Stigma Around Mental Health?

Can stress and sadness cause weight gain

While times are changing and mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety are more acceptable and widely discussed, some stigma still exists worldwide.

This may be one of the reasons many suffer in silence, never seeking treatment, which can lead to adverse outcomes.

But regardless of the stigma that still exists, experiencing depression is not shameful and quite common. You should also know that help is available and that both depression and anxiety are treatable. 

An important note

Before we move on, I must state that I am not a mental health professional. This is not intended as mental health or medical advice in any way.

If you are dealing with depression, anxiety, or other mental health conditions, start with your doctor to determine your best course of action and treatment plan.

And while I am not a mental health professional, I am someone that experiences depression and knows just how debilitating it can be. I also have struggled with depression and weight gain simultaneously.

I know firsthand how difficult it can be to lose weight while dealing with symptoms of depression. Through my own experience and research, I have learned a lot and gained insight into valuable tools that may benefit those struggling with depression and weight gain.

Can Depression Make You Gain Weight? The Mental Health Connection

Does depression cause belly fat

Depression can severely impact your mood and wreak havoc on your life. Before we get into how depression and weight gain can go hand in hand, let’s look at some common symptoms. 

Symptoms of depression include:

  • Feelings of sadness
  • Feeling worthless
  • Feeling tired and low on energy
  • Trouble concentrating or making decisions
  • Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Change in appetite, resulting in weight gain or weight loss
  • Loss of interest in once enjoyable activities
  • Suicidal thoughts

Can Depression Make It Hard To Lose Weight?

So how exactly do you gain weight as a result of depression? Does being depressed intrinsically cause weight gain? 

The biggest reasons you may experience weight gain are due to changes in appetite and/or medication. Many antidepressants can cause weight gain. But aside from medication, many people gain weight simply because they eat more and move less. 

When you are depressed, you may lose interest in doing the things you once loved. You may feel lethargic and even struggle to get out of bed, leading to getting less exercise.

Also, many people may use food as a coping mechanism. Food becomes the primary source of pleasure. The thing that makes you feel better in the moment.

On the other hand, some people may lose their appetite altogether, leading to weight loss. So some lose weight because of depression, and others gain. Here we will be focusing on the depression weight gain cycle.

How To Lose Depression Weight Gain?

How do you motivate yourself to lose weight when depressed

So, how do you deal with depression and gaining weight? How do you fight weight gain from depression?

And how do you lose weight despite your depression, especially when the actions you need to lose weight are often a symptom of depression? 

Well, if you know anything about depression, you know how hard it can be to get out of bed at times, much less get up and exercise.

Getting up every day and exercising and eating right is difficult for most. But when you add depression to the mix, it can feel downright impossible.

The key is to get up every day and try. What you could or couldn’t do yesterday is irrelevant. 

Today is a new day and a new opportunity to try and make changes. All you need to do is take one small step at a time. To lose weight, you need to focus on your depression by doing what you need to alleviate your symptoms.

This will help you feel better, giving you the confidence to tackle your other goals, including weight loss.

Also, actively working on your depression will likely help you shed pounds without thinking about it. You will see how this works shortly. 

But without further ado, let’s get into the 15 tips to help you overcome your depression so you can tackle your weight loss goals.  

15 Tips To Overcome Depression

depression and weight gain the serotonin connection

1. Exercise

The first tip on the list to help with your depression is exercise. But how? How are you supposed to exercise when you can barely get out of bed? One of the main symptoms of depression is a lack of desire to do anything. 

Often you feel low on energy, so exercising to feel better may seem like a stretch. But there is no simple way around this; you just have to push yourself. The thing is, overcoming depression, like anything else, does take work.

You will have to fight through many of those feelings to get yourself to take the necessary steps to start feeling better. 

But once you take those steps, you will feel better and be much closer to dealing with your bigger goal: depression and weight gain.

But how does exercise help?

depression weight gain help

Exercise can help by elevating your mood. A brisk walk will increase your heart rate and stimulate the release of endorphins, dopamine, oxytocin, and serotonin, a.k.a; the happy hormones. These neurotransmitters help to elevate your mood.

One popular method for treating depression is to raise serotonin levels with serotonin antidepressants, also known as SSRIs.

You have probably heard of antidepressants like Prozac and Zoloft; these medications are examples of SSRIs.

Exercise increases serotonin levels naturally, without medication. In some cases, exercise can be just as effective at treating depression as antidepressants. 

Walking, in particular, is a great way to achieve this. So you don’t need fancy gym memberships or need to be an athlete; merely walking will do just fine. 

Benefits of walking:

  • Low-impact
  • Easily accessible
  • No gym membership required
  • Reduces stress levels

Going for a 30-minute walk each day can help tremendously. 

If walking every day seems too much for you at this time, based on where you are currently and how severe your depression is, start with just a couple times per week.

If 30 minutes feels overwhelming, you can start with 5-10 minutes of walking per day. The goal is to do something consistently, regardless of how small, and work your way up from there.

Five minutes will turn into ten, and ten will turn into twenty, and before you know it, you will be walking thirty minutes or more per day.

2. Don’t isolate yourself

stress and depression weight gain

People suffering from depression often isolate themselves, which can lead to deeper stages of depression. Because when you are depressed, you often want to be alone and don’t want to be around others. But you need to fight those feelings as best as you can.

Surround yourself with family and close friends, preferably positive people who generally make you feel good when in their presence.

Forcing yourself to be around others as much as possible will allow you to enjoy some good company and is also a great distraction from whatever you are going through.

This will reduce the time spent wallowing, feeling unhappy, and listening to the repeated negative self-talk playing in your head.

Simply put, you need to push yourself! Take baby steps if you have to, but make a conscious effort to be around others as much as possible.

3. Eat healthy foods

Eating healthy can be extremely challenging when dealing with crippling depression and anxiety symptoms. The last thing you care about when feeling intense sadness and other symptoms associated with depression is your diet and how well you are eating.

You may not even have an appetite or might be binge eating, so eating healthy may be low on your priority list, but diet is important. Consider following an anti-inflammatory diet and eating foods that reduce inflammation.

Research suggests that diet does play a role in our mental health, and a poor diet can even increase our chances of developing depression.

Diets that promote anti-inflammatory foods, such as the Mediterranean diet, have been proven to lower the risks of developing depressive symptoms.

Eat foods rich in Omega 3 fatty acids like salmon, mackerel, sardines, oysters, anchovies, flax seeds, chia seeds, soybeans, and walnuts.

These foods will help balance the ratio between omega-6 fatty acids and omega-3 fatty acids in your diet.

Because we get way more omega 6s compared to omega 3s, which creates an imbalance and can lead to chronic inflammation in the body.

In addition to eating foods rich in omega-3s, include healthy fats like olive oil and avocadoes. Eat lots of veggies, fruits, whole grains, seeds, and nuts.

And stay away from packaged and processed foods like white flour and refined sugars. When it comes to depression and weight gain, changing your diet will help with both.

4. Get enough sleep

depression weight gain fatigue

Getting enough sleep is vital to both your physical and mental health.

The problem is lack of sleep or sleeping too much is one of the major symptoms of depression, so getting enough if you have insomnia can be difficult. But you do need deep sleep to restore your body and mind. This type of sleep repairs your muscles and cells. 

And did you know that not getting enough sleep may lead to the problem at hand–depression? Yes, lack of sleep can increase your chances of developing depression.

Lack of sleep can also increase your chances of developing conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease. But, it can also lead to irritability, brain fog, and fatigue and significantly affect your mood.

When you get enough sleep, you have a clearer mind, feel more energetic, and have a better outlook on life.

You should aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night. If you cannot get at least 7 hours of quality sleep per night, talk to your doctor about ways to help you improve your sleep. 

Getting enough sleep will help with both your depression and weight gain. Because did you know that lack of sleep can also make it difficult to lose weight?

Well, it can. Check out this post to learn how lack of sleep affects your hormones, making it difficult to lose weight.

5. Journal

depression menopause and weight gain

Writing in a journal can be very cathartic when dealing with depression, anxiety, or both. When you are depressed, you often experience intense emotions and sadness.

And while you don’t want to feel this way, you must accept those feelings. Meet yourself where you are, and don’t beat yourself up for how you are feeling.

Instead, allow yourself to feel sad, angry, or anxious, but do so constructively by writing those feelings down.

Cry if you need to cry. Yell if you need to yell! Allow yourself to feel, and then write down how you feel in your journal.

Write down your feelings of anger, sadness, and anxiousness. Then, when you are done writing, move on to another activity or find something more positive to focus on. Leave those feelings on that sheet of paper.

6. Challenge your negative thoughts

A big part of depression and anxiety is negative self-talk and all-or-nothing thinking.

When we are depressed, our thoughts are often distorted, and the constant negative recordings playing in our heads don’t help.

But don’t just accept those thoughts; challenge them. Replace negative thoughts with more positive rational ones. You are essentially replacing the lie (distortion) with more positive thoughts (the truth).

At first, it will feel like a lot of work, and sometimes you don’t have the energy to challenge anything. You may just want to feel bad and wallow, which is ok occasionally but try to challenge those thoughts as much as possible.

The goal here is that after doing this for a while, this should become more automatic. Eventually, you will have fewer negative thoughts to challenge.

And even if you’re having a bad day and haven’t been able to take the necessary steps to move past the depression, don’t beat yourself up! 

Focus on the possibilities of tomorrow.

Despite today’s setbacks, tomorrow can be a great day with new possibilities regardless of what you experienced today. 

There is still hope regardless of what you could or could not accomplish today. Challenging your thoughts will also help when it comes to depression and weight gain because a considerable part of weight loss is mindset.

7. Take mental assessments of your life

Often when we are depressed, we focus only on the negatives. Assess all the positives in your life, as well as all the negatives.

More than likely, you will see that the positives outweigh the negatives. Focus on the whole instead of just the parts of your life where you are unhappy.

Try not to generalize your entire life and happiness based on only the negative elements. 

Be fair and focus on the things that go right just as much as on those that don’t.

Write down all the positives each day so you can see things more clearly, and over time you will see all the things you have to be happy about and grateful for.

This lets you look at your life objectively and realize things aren’t as bad as you think.

8. Practice meditation or take a yoga class

depression weight gain reddit

Yoga is great for the mind and body and, therefore, can be helpful for both depression and weight gain. But how does yoga help with depression?

First, yoga helps relieve stress by lowering stress hormones, and stress is heavily tied to depression. Yoga also helps release those mood-elevating hormones mentioned earlier. 

Taking a yoga class can help calm down your anxieties, help you feel more centered and at peace, allowing you to feel happier ultimately.

Another option is to practice meditation. Deep breathing can help reduce your anxiety, make you feel more centered, improve your sense of self, and make you feel more at peace.

And the good news is you don’t have to leave your house to practice meditation. You can practice it in the comfort of your own home. Again, start small.

Start with committing to 5 minutes per day of sitting in silence and focusing on breathing deeply through your nose and filling your belly with air. And then breathe out slowly with your lips pursed. 

9. Serve others by volunteering your time

Is volunteering good for depression

Volunteering can be helpful because it takes the focus off you and puts it onto someone or something else. Getting the focus off of oneself can be immensely helpful when so much time is spent ruminating on all the things that are wrong with your life or went wrong in your day. 

This can be helpful because when you volunteer and help those less fortunate, you feel good about your contributions to society.

It also puts things into perspective because you can better see how much more you have compared to others. The more things you do that make you feel good, the better your overall mood will be.

10. Practice gratitude

Practicing gratitude can shift your mindset positively and give you a better outlook on life. It allows you to focus on all the things that are good in your life that you are grateful for.

And it could be as simple as your morning coffee or as profound as expressing gratitude for your health, family, and income.

Get a gratitude journal and write at least one thing you are grateful for daily. Remember, it could be something big or something really small.

Make it a habit to write down what you are grateful for daily and speak it out loud each morning.

11. Set small, achievable goals

Let’s face it, when you are depressed, you most likely don’t feel like doing anything, but doing the things you don’t want to do will ultimately make you feel better, but I know it’s hard.

It’s a catch-22; you feel horrible and want to lie on the couch and do nothing, but doing something will help you feel better in the end, but depression makes you feel like you don’t want to do anything. It’s so tough to break this cycle.

But if you are trying to push through depression naturally, you have to do just that.

You have to push yourself to do the things you don’t want to.

Set small goals instead of big ones, as big goals may seem impossible.

Set 1 or 2 small achievable goals each day based on where you are in your depression.

Every day you complete your goal or goals, you will feel a little better because you will feel proud of yourself and like you’ve accomplished something.

Over time this will lead to bigger goals, leading to greater confidence. This all helps you feel better about yourself and your life.

One day you might find that you are so busy and active; you hardly have time to wallow in self-pity or focus on the things you don’t have or aren’t going right.

Remember, start with small, simple things that won’t overwhelm you, and work your way up from there.

12. Reward yourself

Now that you have set some achievable goals and you are actively completing and achieving them, it’s time to reward yourself for your efforts. Do something nice for yourself, and reward yourself.

Or simply praise yourself for a job well done. Don’t wait for someone else to do it; do it for yourself.

13. If you are a music lover, listen to music

depression medication weight gain

When you are depressed, you lose interest in the things you once loved. Take, for instance, listening to music. It’s not that you don’t love music anymore, but you don’t feel like listening to it. The desire is just not there anymore.

But even if you don’t feel like listening to music, put your favorite music on. Tell yourself you will listen for just 5 minutes. 

You will be surprised how fast your spirits are lifted after turning on your favorite song and how 5 minutes turn into 30 or even an hour. Music is so powerful and can do wonders for your mood. 

Give it a try. Also, if music is not your thing, do something else that you loved doing before and see if that helps. 

14. Try supplements

Before trying any new supplements, be sure to consult with your doctor.

Consider trying some of the following supplements: 

  • St John’s wort
  • Zinc
  • Fish oil to get your omega- 3 fatty acids
  • Saffron
  • Ginseng
  • SAMe 
  • 5-HTP
  • DHEA 
  • Chamomile

These natural supplements have been shown to help some suffering from depression.

15. Talk therapy

What therapy is most successful in treating depression

Finding a therapist to talk to can be very helpful on your road to recovery.

Having someone to talk to and guide you through irrational thoughts and negative self-talk by providing strategies to overcome them can be very helpful.

To find a therapist, talk to your doctor. They may have some good recommendations.

You can call your insurance company for referrals or visit a site like Psychology Today to find a great therapist.

As you can see, there are many things you can try before resorting to medications. Still, there is nothing wrong with medicine, do what works for you.

Just speak to your doctor about the best course of action for you. Remember that overcoming/managing depression won’t be easy, you have to be willing to fight every day, but you can do it. Take it one day at a time and one step at a time.

Final Thoughts On Depression And Weight Gain

How do you motivate yourself to lose weight when depressed? Focus on taking small steps to overcome your depression symptoms which will improve how you feel. 

Working on your depression first can help you feel better so you can work towards your weight loss goals. Because losing weight and keeping it off requires having the right mindset to get through those times you feel like giving up. 

Also, being more active and eating healthy will not only help improve your symptoms, but it will also help you lose weight at the same time.

If you liked this article, I would love it if you would share it with a friend. What is your biggest challenge when it comes to depression and weight gain?

Have you gained weight due to emotional eating? What have you found helpful in alleviating your depression symptoms? Have you tried any of the above tips, and if so, did they help? Let me know down below in the comments.

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This post was all about Depression And Weight Gain.

Dee
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