Tuesday, July 04, 2006

If You're Happy And You Know It, Don't Get Fat

Study says the more obese you are, the more depressed you become

This Washington Post story examines a new study on the enormous negative psychological and emotional consequences of being overweight or obese that should break the heart of anyone who has either previously struggled with or has someone close to them dealing with this very important issue.

Lead researcher Dr. Greg E. Simon, senior investigator at The Center For Health Studies in Seattle, Washington, watched 9,125 adults in his study using his professional skills both as a psychiatrist and health services researcher to determine the overall mental health of the study participants. Close to 25 percent of the study participants were obese.

What Dr. Simon discovered was that the obese study members were one-fourth MORE likely to experience a depressed mood and exhibit certain anxiety disorders as compared to the non-obese study members. Interestingly, though, the obese people in the study were one-fourth LESS likely than the skinnier ones to begin abusing drugs or alcohol ostensibly to relieve them of their pain. That is probably due to the fact that they turned to food as their "drug" to comfort them.

That's always baffled me how some people choose to abuse their bodies by sticking a needle in their arm, a bottle of alcohol in their mouth, or popping pills while others eat an entire gallon of rocky road ice cream. Both experience traumatic pain that makes them want to escape, but both seem to find the appropriate "high" they are looking for by picking their poison. I really don't know which is worse!

The conclusion of this study was a mixed bag and it has Dr. Simon pondering the chicken or the egg theory: do obese people get that way because they got depressed and ate their way into obesity trying to feel better or did the depression begin as a result of the public scorn and ridicule that comes from being obese? The surprising answer is that it could be BOTH! And a laughing diet won't make things any better either!

As happy as I thought I was when I weighed 410 pounds a few years back, deep down inside I knew I was a hurting man. Not physically, although there were signs my body was breaking down, but mentally and emotionally. While I never fell into this deep fit of depression that I couldn't come out of, there were self-image problems that I had to deal with being fat.

Do you know bad it hurts to have people staring at you in disbelief that you allowed yourself to get morbidly obese wearing a size 62 inch waist pants and 5XL shirts? How about when I tried to say hello to you when I saw you walking by and you all but ignored me? And can you even put yourself in my shoes at that moment when I sit down in the driver's seat of my car only to hear the horrifying sound of me ripping my pants wide open?

Let's just say it clearly: BEING FAT ROYALLY SUCKS!

As much as you might want to put a happy face on your situation when you are overweight or obese, it's not a lot of fun being put in that position (despite what this obese woman claims). Of course, you put yourself there and nobody else is to blame. If ever there was a motivating factor for people to WANT to lose weight, I would think the intense desire to feel better about yourself physically and mentally would give you that swift kick in the pants you need.

Dr. Simon notes that depression can leave people detached from reality and that certain medications can be used to treat that type of condition. Unfortunately, many of those drugs can lead to even more weight gain and, thus, deeper depression -- and the ruthless cycle never ends.

The additional burden of dealing with all the name-calling and immature human behavior towards the last acceptable form of discrimination allowed in the United States -- against the overweight and obese -- can be too much for many of them to handle. So they turn to more food to hide their pain which makes them fatter and fatter and...SOMEBODY PLEASE STOP THIS MADNESS!!!

This study was published in the July 2006 issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

What is that word used to describe good ole St. Nick?

Santa Claus is probably the most famous fat character in the world today and what is he most known for? That's right, for being JOLLY and laughing it up, having a good time, with not a care in the world. Is that image just one big facade just like the myth of Santa Claus' existence (you do know he's not real, right?! LOL!)?

This study was paid for by the National Institute of Mental Health and their representative Dr. Wayne Fenton said the study results confirm this long-held "cultural stereotype of the jolly fat person is more a figment of our imagination than a reality."

I wonder how many people actually bought that lie after all these years. I've lived the misery of being stuck in a fat man's body with very little hope I would ever climb out of that deep, dark pit I had dug for myself. It wasn't until I began losing weight -- and quickly on my low-carb lifestyle, I might add -- that I even realized how much happier I was becoming. The domino effect of feeling better physically then led me to start feeling better mentally which was then was reinforced by others who noticed me changing for the better and finally it all kept me going until I finally reached my weight loss goal. Yee haw! Remember this lady who said I needed to learn how to be happy now that I'm not fat anymore. It's a classic!

Guess what? You have to get that ball rolling forward first to make this happen for yourself. Don't just sit back and expect everything to fall into place for you overnight. You have to put in the effort, make the commitment, stick with the plan, and never ever ever ever give up on your dream of weight loss to make it happen. YOU CAN DO IT!!!

Are you down and depressed and don't know why? Maybe it IS your weight that's got you down! Dr. Fenton urges family doctors to help notice this in their patients and say something.

"The take-home message for doctors is to be on the lookout for depression among their patients who are overweight," Fenton said.

Doctors have to become more bold and willing to tell their patients about their weight problem. Don't worry about hurting their feelings because so much more is at stake here than the temporary state of emotions. We're talking long-term health consequences that could cause a shortened lifespan and/or a miserable existence both physically and mentally.

Right now, there are close to 21 million American adults diagnosed with depression, most of whom are obese. The ever-growing body of evidence is pointing to a very real connection between these two conditions, which could bring about a breakthrough in the treatment of both in the coming years as more studies extrapolate data that can be used to develop programs for overcoming obesity and depression.

By the way, despite previous studies showing a higher link to depression in females, gender did not make a difference with both men and women experience mental problems with obesity. Guys, this means you need to stop ignoring that big belly of yours that hangs out the front of your body. Stop lying to yourself and get going on a weight loss plan TODAY! Might I suggest livin' la vida low-carb?

You can e-mail Dr. Greg Simon about his study by writing to him at


Blogger Spider63 said...

Great information. Obesity and Depression definitely go hand in hand. It is hard to be happy or motivated when you can barely move off the sofa.

7/05/2006 6:20 AM  
Blogger angela said...

Interesting blog.
I found walking my dogs everyday a good way of exercising. I do just an hour and it makes them happy and makes me feel good so saying no to the last slice of cake isn't so hard.
Maybe obese people can't take enough exercise to beat off depression.

7/05/2006 10:02 AM  

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