Obesity and depression are increasingly prevalent health concerns, seriously for seniors

Tuesday, 02 May, 2017

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Several evidence-based studies have shown that obese elders have a higher incidence of mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, and poor self-esteem than others. A reasonable conclusion is that obesity should predict depression, but the findings are not clear. In reality, few studies have found that obesity predicted depression over time, thus it has been proposed that instead of looking at the basic main effects of obesity predicting depression, it might be more practical to examine the specific processes or experiences by which obesity might lead to depression among seniors so that specific interventions can be targeted.

The prevalence of obesity has nearly doubled worldwide since 1980. Obesity is a major risk factor for non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, musculoskeletal disorders, and cancer. Depressive symptoms can cause considerable impairments in an individual's ability to handle daily responsibilities and can even lead to suicide. In this respect, both depression and obesity can increase the burden of disease with enormous economic costs.

The Relationship Between Obesity and Depression Among Elders

Obesity-Depression Links

Research has shown that there's no clear, one-way connection between obesity and depression. Instead, studies have shown that the two tend to feed off each other in a vicious, self-destructive circle.

  • Obesity causes depression. Studies have shown that obese people are about 25 percent more likely to experience a mood disorder like depression compared with those who are not obese. Obesity can cause poor self-image, low self-esteem, and 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 as well as serious diseases like diabetes and hypertension, all of which have been linked to depression.
  • Depression and obesity share common risk factors. Some factors apparently can trigger both obesity and depression. Belonging to a lower socioeconomic class and not participating in physical activity increases risk for developing either condition.

Treating Obesity and Depression

As they attempt to understand the link between depression and obesity, doctors also are trying to figure out how to treat both conditions in a way that will produce overall good results.

  • Depression. Successfully treating depression can be a lot easier than successfully treating obesity, so doctors recommend that people with depressive symptoms especially if they are aged - seek treatment as soon as possible along with assisted living in home care.
  • Obesity. A study of people who underwent bariatric surgery for their obesity found that as they shed pounds, they also shed their depression. A year after surgery, the subjects had experienced a 77 percent loss of excess body weight, and an accompanying 18 percent reduction in symptoms of depression.

These results indicate that a team approach might be best for dealing with depression and obesity. Your family physician can help craft a plan of diet and exercise that will lead to healthy weight loss. You might want to bring in a nutritionist or personal trainer to help you better follow your physician's weight-loss plan. At the same time, a psychologist or psychiatrist can help you deal with your feelings of depression and confront the stress, anxiety, or other triggers that are leading to your depression and obesity. Finally, you may also benefit from the in home care along with a professional caregiver.