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Weight linked to high rate of depression among teens

young girl depressed

A new study has found that high body mass index (BMI) — or, in simple terms, being overweight — in childhood may lead to depression in teenage, especially among girls. No, it's not that excess fat causes depression. It might be the dissatisfaction that comes from being overweight that contributes to depression.

This is easy to imagine, as young people especially girls, are very much concerned about their appearance.

The researchers conducted the research by studying over 13,000 people born between 2000 and 2002. They found that being overweight at age 7 was associated with an increased tendency of body dissatisfaction at age 11 and depression at 14. What's more, the link was twice as high in girls than in boys.

These people were, for the largest part, not happy with their appearance. But of course, there are other factors contributing to the onset of depression, as body dissatisfaction only appeared together with high BMI and depression 43% of the time. So apparently, there are other factors that may lead a person with a high BMI to depression apart from being unsatisfied with their body.

The bi-directional link between weight and depression

While being overweight may cause someone to feel depressed, people with depression usually gain weight from their anti-depressants. A depressed person may also resort to emotional eating as a coping mechanism, thereby adding weight. And there are some who lose weight due to loss of appetite that comes with depression. 

Because anti-depressants may cause weight gain, many patients are scared of continuing their medication. But researchers are working on a coating that prevents this weight gain from psychiatric drugs.

How to help our kids who may be overweight

While there's a need to educate kids about appreciating their bodies, we also have to prioritize healthy habits without stigmatizing weight. In the end, it's a collective effort to support children's mental health that may save the day.

If you or your child is battling depression or even an eating disorder due to weight concerns, we can help. We provide safe, effective psychiatric care in Boise & Meridian, Idaho, SLC & the Wasatch Front, Utah. Also serving OR, AZ, NV, WA & FL.

Please talk to us at Hope Mental Health, let's give you the support you need.

Satu H. Woodland, PMHCNS-BC, APRN Satu H. Woodland, PMHCNS-BC, APRN Satu Woodland is owner and clinician of Hope Mental Health, an integrative mental health practice located at Bown Crossing in Boise, Idaho. She sees children, adolescents, and adults.  Ms. Woodland with her background in nursing, prefers a holistic and integrative approach to mental health care that addresses the mind and body together. While Ms. Woodland provides medication management services in all her patients, she believes in long-lasting solutions that include a number of psychotherapies, namely cognitive behavioral therapy, exposure and response prevention therapy, attention to lifestyle, evidenced based alternative psychiatric care and spirituality. If you’d like to gain control over your mental health issues, call Hope Mental Health at 208-918-0958, or use the online scheduling tool to set up an initial consultation.

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