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- Having excess body fat, no matter where that fat is located, increases risk of developing depression, according to a new published in Translational Psychiatry.
- Carrying about 20 pounds of excess body fat increased risk 17 percent, the researchers found.
- Exercise can help improve body image and mental well-being, regardless of weight loss.
The more excess body fat you carry, the greater the probability is that you’ll develop depression, according to a new study published in—but the reason may have more to do with the psychological than the physiological.
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In the study, a team of researchers from Aarhus University and Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark sought to tease out the whys between the well-established link between obesity and depression. While past studies relied on body mass index (BMI) data, the scientists looked specifically at body composition and fat distribution for this research.
“BMI is an inaccurate way of measuring overweight and obesity. Many elite athletes with a large muscle mass and a low body fat mass will have a BMI above 25, which is classified as overweight according to the common definition,” study author Søren Dinesen Østergaard, M.D., Ph.D., said in.
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BMI also doesn’t tell you how the body fat is distributed, like whether someone carries it around their waist or hips. (has been linked to greater risk of health conditions than other locations.)
“One of the strengths of our study is that we’ve been able to zoom in and look at the specific relationship between the amount of body fat and the risk of depression,” Østergaard said in the release.
The researchers analyzed data from two massive genetic data sets: the UK Biobank, which includes data on genetic variants and physical factors like body fat mass measurements, and the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium, which contains information about genetic variants and mood disorders like depression. Combined, the two databases contain information on more than 800,000 people.
They found that excess body fat mass is a risk factor for depression, but nonfat mass (muscle and bone) is not.
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Carrying 10 kilograms, or 22 pounds, of excess body fat increased the risk of depression by 17 percent. The more excess fat people carried, the greater their risk.
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“Our study also indicated that the location of the fat on the body makes no difference to the risk of depression,” Østergaard said in the release. “This suggests that it is the psychological consequences of being overweight or obese which lead to the increased risk of depression, and not the direct biological effect of the fat. If the opposite was true, we would have seen that fat located centrally on the body increased the risk the most, as it has the most damaging effect in biological terms.”
So how can you beat the stigma? Getting on your bike can help. Not only is exercise good for your physical and mental health, but also a study published infound that working out can give you an immediate body image boost and help you see yourself in a stronger, more positive light.
Carrying excess body fat linked to increased risk of depression
New European research has found that the more extra fat a person carries, the higher their risk of depression.
Video: Here's why depression is making you so tired
Help Against Depression
Good news: Depression is treatable in about 70 percent of cases. From research it is known that 4 different factor complexes in varying degrees of importance are involved in the development of depression.
1st factor: genetic predisposition
Many consider depression to be a hereditary disease, but a depressive gene does not exist. Genetic disposition means that the risk of disease is increased 3-fold if the parents or siblings already have it.
2nd Factor: Childhood and Youth
Childhood and adolescent experiences of loss and violence can increase the likelihood of depression later on. Often, normal stressors are enough to trigger depression. Factors 1 and 2 thus lower the threshold for depression in life under stress, since the brain has become more or less vulnerable to stress.
3. Factor: body and organs
These include disorders such as thyroid dysfunction, but also cardiovascular disease, which in different ways directly increase the risk of developing depression. But certain medications, drugs and alcohol can cause depression.
Factor: psychosocial stressors Critical life situations such as job loss, divorce, the sudden death of a loved one, a serious illness, an accident or chronic job stress can cause depression in any person. In the worst case, the factors 1 to 4 add up and then reduce the depression threshold so far that actually insignificant everyday experiences can trigger the disease.
depression is mainly treated on an outpatient basis. However, statistics show that the number of inpatient treatments is increasing, as well as the number of antidepressant prescriptions. Psychotherapy combined with medication is the most effective measure.
researchers also speak of the "puzzle depression". We know that brain chemistry is disturbed. But how fateful blows, emotional stress and metabolic changes in the brain are closely related, remains to be deciphered. To compensate for the disturbed brain chemistry, antidepressants are used. At the contact points between two nerve cells, the synapses, there is a shortage of the messengers serotonin and norepinephrine. There, these drugs start: In different ways, they increase the concentration of messengers. This can compensate for the depression associated with depression in the brain.
Today, we know that in severe depression, our stress hormone axis gets out of control and there is an increased release of the hormone cortisol. This hormone, which helps us cope with acute stress, becomes a stress factor for the brain in depression itself; This can lead to nerve cells even shrinking in sensitive brain regions such as the hippocampus and they can lose their connectivity. Antidepressant medications may be a stimulus to get rid of the dysregulations and help the brain regenerate.
Mild depression is often only treated by psychotherapy, in case of severe depression antidepressants are necessary - they make psychotherapy possible. First, sufferers must admit that they need help. Then they have to accept the diagnosis of depression. In conversations courage is made and work on possible solutions. The focus is on the work on self-esteem and self-efficacy. There are specific psychotherapy procedures for depression treatment, such as interpersonal psychotherapy for depression (IPT).
Depression symptoms increase over last year of life .
Many people experience worsening depression symptoms over their final year of life, and a U.S. study suggests that women, younger adults and poor people may be especially vulnerable. © fizkes/Getty ImagesFor the study, researchers examined data on 3,274 adults who participated in the nationwide Health and Retirement Study and died within one year of the assessment. All of the participants had completed mental health questionnaires and provided information on any medical issues they had as well as demographic factors like income and education levels.