Monday, December 13, 2010

Depression Slows Weight Loss Efforts, Fish Oil Can Help

(Article first published as Avoid Depression for Successful Weight Loss, Omega-3 Fats Can Help on Technorati.)
Clinical depression rates are rising in America almost as quickly as the number of overweight and obese individuals. It makes sense that people who may be depressed are less likely to be concerned over weight issues as they become less involved with physical health issues and their external environment.

While researchers are unable to say whether depression leads to excess weight or if the extra pounds contribute as an underlying cause of depression, those individuals who fall into the obese classification (BMI above 30) are 50 to 150% more likely to suffer from depression than normal weight individuals. Clearly there is a close relationship between the physical and psychological manifestations that contribute to excess weight and clinical depression.

Depression Closely Linked to Body Weight
Depression is a devastating condition that can have a detrimental effect on many aspects of a person’s life. Depressed people are more likely to eat a poor diet of processed junk foods and become less physically active. The results of a study conducted at the University of Washington and reported in the journal General Hospital Psychology demonstrates that treating obese individuals for depression can have a significant impact on their weight loss efforts.

Study Confirms That Treating Depression Leads to Weight Loss
The study involved 203 obese women for a period of 12 months who had been diagnosed with clinical depression. All participants were placed on a reduced calorie diet and broken into 2 groups. Both groups were monitored for caloric intake with food questionnaires and physical activity. Half of the participants were also treated for their depression and their progress was marked using a traditional symptom checklist.

Women who demonstrated the most marked improvement of their depression symptoms were able to lose the most weight. Researchers found that 38% of the women who experienced improved mood lost 5% of their body weight, compared with only 21% in the non-treated group. The study found that depression is closely linked to decreased physical activity, and most of the weight loss was due to an increased level of exercise.

The study authors could not determine if improving depression symptoms led to greater physical activity or vice versa, but concluded, "among women with co-occurring obesity and depression, short-term improvement in depression is associated with weight loss." They suggest that depression screening should become a normal part of any permanent weight loss program.

Omega-3 Fats Used to Treat Depression
A good alternative to the traditional pharmaceutical therapy for depression is omega-3 fats from fish and fish oils. The human brain is composed largely of long chain Omega-3 fats and when deficient, neurons malfunction and clinical depression manifests. Researchers from the University of Illinois combined the results from 15 independent studies and confirmed that Omega-3 fats are effective at improving mood and may potentially eliminate the need for many people to take antidepressant drugs. Researchers found that the Omega-3 component EPA exerts the most benefit in alleviating the symptoms of depression.

Mood disorders and clinical depression affect nearly 21 million American adults and ranks as the fourth leading cause of morbidity and death. Undoubtedly overweight and obesity are confounding factors that dramatically increase the risk of disease and untimely demise. Research confirms that improving symptoms of depression with traditional therapy and using fish oil supplementation may be the key to relief from clinical depression and successful weight loss.


salt said...

Depression can also be rid of by fasting. Great article.

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