The importance of a healthy mind cannot be stressed enough. The mind has a great impact on the body and how it works, and also how it looks. Our mental health greatly impacts our life but is often overlooked. For example, when we speak about weight loss, we regularly do not take into account how mental stress affects weight loss.
The research on how mental health can affect weight loss is gradually increasing. Most of the literature on the subject is on the effect of depression. Many people understand that situations like divorce, the death of a loved one, job loss, or financial distress can cause depression. However, not enough people realize that even positive life changes, such as marriage or moving to a new home can also trigger depression.
The fact remains that depression brings an immense level of discomfort to the person who is suffering from it. It affects our thoughts, behaviour and emotions. It affects our thinking ability by making it difficult for us to concentrate and focus on the task at hand.
It also affects our behaviour through lack of energy and motivation. Individuals suffering from depression feel tired all the time and certain activities seem too difficult to carry out. This lethargy takes a toll on their social life as well! They don't feel like doing anything with their friends or family members and tend to be reclusive.
The Complex Link Between Mental Health & Weight
A study suggested that obesity is associated with an approximately 25% increase in odds of mood and anxiety disorders and an approximately 25% decrease in odds of substance use disorders. Variation across demographic groups suggests that social or cultural factors may moderate or mediate the association between obesity and mood disorder.
Depression is the commonest mood disorder in the world with an estimated 300 million affected. Although not everyone with depression will gain weight, some people can gain significant amounts of weight due to changes in eating habits and physical activity levels.
On the other hand, weight gain can also contribute to depression, especially when it has been long term or severe. Research has shown that this is more likely if the weight gain is excessive (rather than mild) and is due to a slow metabolism (sometimes referred to as ‘slow metabolism syndrome’), overeating or eating junk food, or having medical complications associated with being overweight.
The implication of this is that people suffering from depression need to be very careful about their diet and their weight.
It is a commonly accepted fact that depression can contribute indirectly to weight gain. In fact, most people who are considered obese have been clinically diagnosed as having depression. Depressed patients tend to overeat, and they also have a higher tendency to become obese.
Mental health, depression and anxiety are conditions that result in a decrease of neurochemical serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter associated with mood regulation. It has been proven that a deficit of serotonin within the brain can directly indicate weight gain.
In addition, two other hormones, dopamine and norepinephrine, known as "hormones of pleasure" are associated with many overweight people. These hormones are released as a reward for eating, and it has been noted that overweight people tend to eat as a way to deal with their depression or as a way to feel better about themselves, simply because doing so relieves them of their negative emotions. Another condition called binge-eating disorder seems to have a higher occurrence in women with depression.
All these factors affect a person’s weight loss plan if they are suffering from any mental health issues. An obese person is likely to gain even more weight if diagnosed with depression or anxiety. Hence, it is important to deal with your mental health first.
How to Stay Fit Mentally?
Staying fit physically is not the only key to leading a good life. Experiencing the benefits of staying fit mentally is priceless. Many men suffer from keeping their mind fit by neglecting it, which gives rise to physical illness- this is not how it should be. To help achieve this, we must make some changes in our routine.
Do you know what the best thing about staying mentally fit is? It does not take much to follow a lifestyle that can elevate your mental health. You can stay calm and collected, with positive vibes flowing through your mental state of mind by following simple tips:
- Sleep on time: Sleep on time. Make sure that you are not sleeping late at night or waking up before your body is ready to do so. Going to bed early will help you set the right mood for the morning-the right mood makes you feel relaxed.
- Eat well: Follow a balanced diet and avoid taking high amounts of caffeine and sugar. Your brain needs a mix of nutrients to stay active and healthy, just like any other organ of your body. A brain-friendly diet must include lots of different types of green leafy vegetables, fresh fruits, nuts and seeds, wholegrain cereals or bread, oily and fatty fish and ofcourse, plenty of fluids.
- Stay physically active: Many experts believe that regular exercise releases chemicals in the brain that can make you feel happy and relaxed. Regular exercise can boost your self-esteem and help you concentrate better. Both food and exercise are vital for the proper functioning of the brain. If you are not comfortable with strength training and cardio exercises, no issues, just a morning walk or doing some housework can keep you active as well.
Stress is a normal part of life and can help you achieve your goals. Moderate stress helps to keep us focused and motivated in all aspects of daily life. However, stress can be positive or negative and therefore has a great impact on your results.
Negative stress affects the way we eat and drink and also can alter our sleep patterns. It causes us to indulge in unhealthy habits such as smoking, binge-eating and drinking alcohol, often in larger amounts than we would during normal times.