Depression, Body Image, and Weight Gain in Women

Reviewed May 15, 2017

Close

E-mail Article

Complete form to e-mail article…

Required fields are denoted by an asterisk (*) adjacent to the label.

Separate multiple recipients with a comma

Close

Sign-Up For Newsletters

Complete this form to sign-up for newsletters…

Required fields are denoted by an asterisk (*) adjacent to the label.

 

Summary

Overweight women are far more likely than normal weight women to have depression because of social and biological factors.

All too often overweight and obese women are treated as outcasts—reminded by too many magazine covers that they are unacceptable in today’s “looks-are-everything” world. In addition, being obese is commonly portrayed, and thus perceived, as evidence of sloth rather than disease. This narrow-minded perspective is clearly contradicted by medical research and the experience of experts. Binge-eating disorder is the most common eating disorder, and is just as much of an illness as bulimia or anorexia. Still, millions of overweight and obese women silently have depression.

Social stigma

The standards for beauty cast upon American women are excruciatingly narrow. For example, the average cover girl (representing less than one percent of the population) is five-feet, nine inches tall and weighs 110 pounds. In contrast, the average American woman is five-feet, four inches tall and weighs 142 pounds—which, contrary to popular belief, is a healthy weight. Yet, millions of healthy, normal weight women and teens loathe their own bodies. As a result, many women are spending thousands of dollars for tummy tucks, liposuction, and other cosmetic procedures in hopes of achieving a standard that is naturally unattainable.

For overweight and obese women, the stigma is even greater. Many of these women perpetually ride the rollercoaster of fad diets and exercise gadgets and programs believing that if they found the right program they would lose weight and become more attractive and thus, more acceptable.

Biological connection

In addition to social stigma, recent research has shown that overweight women are far more likely than normal weight women to experience depression. Breakthrough research has demonstrated a clear correlation between body weight (measured in body mass index) and the amount and availability of the brain chemical called dopamine in women.

Studies conducted at Brookhaven National Laboratory showed that as body mass went up, dopamine levels went down. Consequently, obese women have less ability to experience pleasure and are at increased risk for overeating and depression. In these women, overeating produces a surge in dopamine, which provides temporary pleasure and relief from symptoms of depression. Because overeating leads to weight gain, the relief is short-lived and often followed by guilt and depression. So the cycle of overeating and depression continues until help is found.

Getting help

Losing weight is hard. Fighting depression while trying to lose weight can seem insurmountable. If you are overweight, depressed, or both, get help now. There are new medications and medically supervised weight-loss programs that can work. The toll-free phone number shown on this site is a good place to start.

By Drew Edwards, EdD, MS
Source: Wang GJ, Volkow ND, Logan J, Pappas NR, Wong CT, Zhu W, Netusil N, Fowler JS. Brain dopamine and obesity. Lancet, 2001 Feb 3;357(9253):354-7.

Summary

Overweight women are far more likely than normal weight women to have depression because of social and biological factors.

All too often overweight and obese women are treated as outcasts—reminded by too many magazine covers that they are unacceptable in today’s “looks-are-everything” world. In addition, being obese is commonly portrayed, and thus perceived, as evidence of sloth rather than disease. This narrow-minded perspective is clearly contradicted by medical research and the experience of experts. Binge-eating disorder is the most common eating disorder, and is just as much of an illness as bulimia or anorexia. Still, millions of overweight and obese women silently have depression.

Social stigma

The standards for beauty cast upon American women are excruciatingly narrow. For example, the average cover girl (representing less than one percent of the population) is five-feet, nine inches tall and weighs 110 pounds. In contrast, the average American woman is five-feet, four inches tall and weighs 142 pounds—which, contrary to popular belief, is a healthy weight. Yet, millions of healthy, normal weight women and teens loathe their own bodies. As a result, many women are spending thousands of dollars for tummy tucks, liposuction, and other cosmetic procedures in hopes of achieving a standard that is naturally unattainable.

For overweight and obese women, the stigma is even greater. Many of these women perpetually ride the rollercoaster of fad diets and exercise gadgets and programs believing that if they found the right program they would lose weight and become more attractive and thus, more acceptable.

Biological connection

In addition to social stigma, recent research has shown that overweight women are far more likely than normal weight women to experience depression. Breakthrough research has demonstrated a clear correlation between body weight (measured in body mass index) and the amount and availability of the brain chemical called dopamine in women.

Studies conducted at Brookhaven National Laboratory showed that as body mass went up, dopamine levels went down. Consequently, obese women have less ability to experience pleasure and are at increased risk for overeating and depression. In these women, overeating produces a surge in dopamine, which provides temporary pleasure and relief from symptoms of depression. Because overeating leads to weight gain, the relief is short-lived and often followed by guilt and depression. So the cycle of overeating and depression continues until help is found.

Getting help

Losing weight is hard. Fighting depression while trying to lose weight can seem insurmountable. If you are overweight, depressed, or both, get help now. There are new medications and medically supervised weight-loss programs that can work. The toll-free phone number shown on this site is a good place to start.

By Drew Edwards, EdD, MS
Source: Wang GJ, Volkow ND, Logan J, Pappas NR, Wong CT, Zhu W, Netusil N, Fowler JS. Brain dopamine and obesity. Lancet, 2001 Feb 3;357(9253):354-7.

Summary

Overweight women are far more likely than normal weight women to have depression because of social and biological factors.

All too often overweight and obese women are treated as outcasts—reminded by too many magazine covers that they are unacceptable in today’s “looks-are-everything” world. In addition, being obese is commonly portrayed, and thus perceived, as evidence of sloth rather than disease. This narrow-minded perspective is clearly contradicted by medical research and the experience of experts. Binge-eating disorder is the most common eating disorder, and is just as much of an illness as bulimia or anorexia. Still, millions of overweight and obese women silently have depression.

Social stigma

The standards for beauty cast upon American women are excruciatingly narrow. For example, the average cover girl (representing less than one percent of the population) is five-feet, nine inches tall and weighs 110 pounds. In contrast, the average American woman is five-feet, four inches tall and weighs 142 pounds—which, contrary to popular belief, is a healthy weight. Yet, millions of healthy, normal weight women and teens loathe their own bodies. As a result, many women are spending thousands of dollars for tummy tucks, liposuction, and other cosmetic procedures in hopes of achieving a standard that is naturally unattainable.

For overweight and obese women, the stigma is even greater. Many of these women perpetually ride the rollercoaster of fad diets and exercise gadgets and programs believing that if they found the right program they would lose weight and become more attractive and thus, more acceptable.

Biological connection

In addition to social stigma, recent research has shown that overweight women are far more likely than normal weight women to experience depression. Breakthrough research has demonstrated a clear correlation between body weight (measured in body mass index) and the amount and availability of the brain chemical called dopamine in women.

Studies conducted at Brookhaven National Laboratory showed that as body mass went up, dopamine levels went down. Consequently, obese women have less ability to experience pleasure and are at increased risk for overeating and depression. In these women, overeating produces a surge in dopamine, which provides temporary pleasure and relief from symptoms of depression. Because overeating leads to weight gain, the relief is short-lived and often followed by guilt and depression. So the cycle of overeating and depression continues until help is found.

Getting help

Losing weight is hard. Fighting depression while trying to lose weight can seem insurmountable. If you are overweight, depressed, or both, get help now. There are new medications and medically supervised weight-loss programs that can work. The toll-free phone number shown on this site is a good place to start.

By Drew Edwards, EdD, MS
Source: Wang GJ, Volkow ND, Logan J, Pappas NR, Wong CT, Zhu W, Netusil N, Fowler JS. Brain dopamine and obesity. Lancet, 2001 Feb 3;357(9253):354-7.

Suggested Items

The information provided on the Achieve Solutions site, including, but not limited to, articles, quizzes, and other general information, is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical, health care, psychiatric, psychological or behavioral health care advice. Nothing contained on the Achieve Solutions site is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or as a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care professional. Please direct questions regarding the operation of the Achieve Solutions site to Web Feedback. If you have concerns about your health, please contact your health care provider.  ©2017 Beacon Health Options, Inc.

 

Close

  • Useful Tools

    Select a tool below

© 2017 Beacon Health Options, Inc.