How medical weight loss programs and regular exercise can ease the pain of depression and support mental well-being.
Depression is one of the most common forms of mental health disease. It is marked by feelings of sadness, frustration, emptiness and despair. Many people who struggle with depression can experience severe bouts of helplessness, and often feel that even minor stressors in their life are overwhelming. Depression discourages people from interacting with friends and family members, causes people to lose interest in activities that they once loved and causes people to believe that on their own they are unable to overcome obstacles or find happiness in their situation.
Obesity and Depression Connection
Depression is a difficult circumstance to overcome, and there are countless forms of therapy and even medicinal support to help people overcome depression and regain ideal mental health. For those who struggle with excess weight, however, overcoming depression may be even more difficult.
Obese individuals are at a 25% increased risk of developing obesity. Due to the lack of motivation and lost interest in activities, people who struggle with depression are also at an increased risk of weight gain. The two conditions are intrinsically linked in this way, and so for many people, overcoming one of the conditions means overcoming the other.
Medical weight loss programs are not designed as a form of mental health support, but there are several reasons as to why losing weight can ease depression, and even calm anxiety. Research indicates that eating a nutrient dense diet can support mental well-being. However, just as important as a healthy diet, regular exercise is shown to be stupendously helpful in the treatment of both of these conditions.
How Much Exercise Does It Take?
University of Texas-Southwestern researchers found that exercise at the levels recommended by public health officials—at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most and preferably all days of the week—was effective in reducing mild to moderate depression. Lower levels of exercise were not as effective in lifting the mood. Most studies have found that both aerobic (such as walking) and nonaerobic (such as lifting weights) exercise can improve mood.
Even low intensity workouts can support improved mental health. This includes:
- Bike riding
Although exercise may not replace other depression remedies, at a minimum it can be a helpful addition. Considering that depression is the most common mental disorder, the importance of exercise cannot be over-emphasized during medical weight loss. Just be sure to consult your weight loss doctor before trying any new form of physical activity.