Does Mental Health Affect Weight Gain and Overeating?

Weight gain can be attributed to a number of factors, from hormonal changes to genetics. However, there has been growing evidence linking mental health conditions with weight gain or weight loss.

Indeed, having too much or too little weight isn’t just an issue of food consumption preferences. There is also a need to explore beneath the surface and determine the psychological factors that lead an individual to consume more.

But first, let’s look at the factors we already know that influence weight gain.

Nature and Nurture

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that weight gain can be a product of external and internal influences. 

The environment, for one, is the primary influence for the development of certain eating habits. Obviously, a person who is brought up in a household of heavy-eaters may also adopt the same eating habits within such an environment. But this is not entirely the case for most people. 

One’s community can also play a significant role. For instance, if you are brought in a town that lacks parks and has poor sidewalks, there is less opportunity for you to jog and walk. Moreover, a community that gives you easy access to fitness centers and gyms can also encourage you to follow a healthy weight management routine. 

When it comes to internal influence, genetics can be instrumental in causing weight gain. An article from the Harvard Medical School website points out that your genes can affect your metabolism, your body mass distribution, as well as your appetite. 

Apart from genetics, a person’s mental state is also an important internal factor for weight gain. But what particular conditions cause this phenomenon? 

The weight and psychiatry connection 

In the absence of genes that cause weight gain, a number of mental illnesses and disruptions are also known to alter eating habits. 

One thing’s for sure, stress can be a contributing factor to weight gain since patients who work in high-pressure work environments tend to consume their favorite “comfort food” which often has little to no nutritional value. Likewise, people who experience chronic depression may turn towards eating as a coping mechanism.  

In some cases, antidepressant medication can also cause patients to eat more. Drugs such as paroxetine and sertraline which are prescribed for treating depression can lead to weight gain over the long term. 

Still, the problem can also be linked to a serious condition known as binge eating disorder or BED. According to the National Eating Disorders Association, BED is characterized by a penchant for consuming larger-than-average quantities of food and a loss of control over one’s eating habits, often occurring in episodes. 

But apart from excessive eating, BED can also result in social withdrawal, low self-esteem, and worry over one’s weight and mass. In some cases, it can also lead to bulimia and anorexia nervosa. 

At any rate, eating disorders such as BED are not only physical issues. They are also under the scope of psychiatry, hence requiring the need for appropriate mental health interventions that look into the root of the problem. 

At MidCities Psychiatry, we commit to bringing a holistic approach to addressing the psychological factors that cause weight gain. Our methods recognize the need to restore not just normal eating habits, but a life that’s not bounded by cravings.  

To learn more, call us at {{phone number}} or send an email to {{address}}. 

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