Anxiety and Depression connected to Weight Gain

Posted by Melissa Callaghan on

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Anxiety and Weight Gain

Studies have shown that people with long term (chronic) or repeat occurrences of depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders are more likely to gain weight and become obese over the long term.

A 19-year long study was conducted in England and found that people with even one or two symptoms of mental disorders which include anxiety and depression, were three times as likely to become obese compared to those who did not report these symptoms.

Anxiety and Depression CAN cause weight gain

This is mainly due to Cortisol dysregulation.

Cortisol is a stress hormone and is released during times of stress and this includes anxiety, depression, panic attacks, plus other mental health disorders.

When cortisol is raised for a length of time it can cause fat to build up around the abdomen area. Therefore, it doesn’t matter how many diets you try, if your cortisol remains dysregulated then weight gain will continue.

Your emotions also directly affect your metabolism.  Instead of your body converting your thyroid hormones to their active form to help you lose weight they will instead convert it to the inactive form called reverse T3 which literally puts your metabolism in reverse by putting the breaks on. 

Your emotions can also make you extremely tired and you will feel like you have no motivation whatso ever.  This too then adds to weight gain as even if you wanted to get up and go for a walk you just can't be bothered. The fewer calories you burn the more that is stored as fat.  Also the less you exercise the lower your motivation will stay as exercise increases the release of endorphins which gives you the motivation to get going. 

Another side effect of anxiety is eating in excess.

Food is used as a coping mechanism this is mainly because it releases endorphins that make you feel happier. However, the happiness is only short lived and more food is sort after to get that same happy feeling again.

It can sometimes be very obvious that you are eating more than you should as you notice that you feel overfull or even sick after eating so much or it could just be that you are only increasing in small amounts as well as snacking ALOT and the next thing you know there are an extra 10 kilos showing on the scales.

Ensuring that you are eating correctly and exercising are both important factors in maintaining a comfortable weight. However, if the underlying cause (in this case mental health) remains untreated then the yoyo weight cycle will continue.

Stress also plays a major role in peri-menopausal and menopausal weight gain.  When the main hormones of oestrogen and progesterone begin to decline you are no longer protected and cortisol and insulin take over, these guys are hoarders and they like to store fat, especially around the belly.  It becomes super important to work on insulin resistance and your body's stress response and cortisol levels as these hormones can be a bit mischievous and need to be kept in check. Also important to add in foods to help boost progesterone.

Your daily rituals (habits) have brought you to where you are today. When you feel like you have just had enough and are ready for change then you need to start straight away and begin by changing your rituals.  I have helped so many people change their daily rituals and it has literally changed their life. 


Who am I?

I am a Bachelor qualified Naturopath who specialises in improving metabolic processes in the body. Major areas for improvement include gut, thyroid, kidney, skin and liver health. Conditions such as hypothyroidism, fatty liver, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, type II diabetes, & irritable bowel conditions. I help my patients by giving them symptomatic relief while working on repairing the underlying causes of metabolic stress and waste accumulation. Patients experience amazing results which are seen in their blood tests with improved thyroid markers, cholesterol, and liver markers.  As well as lower blood pressure and see relief from improved gastrointestinal symptoms like the ones that mean you need to know where every single toilet is before you leave the house. 

Melissa Callaghan ND, BHSc, BTeach
Clinical Naturopath


To book an appointment click here 



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