How Does Obesity Impact Emotional Health?

More than 42% of American adults are obese, according to the CDC, and that means they’re at risk for medical problems, like high blood pressure, heart attack, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. But researchers say physical problems aren’t the only obesity-related health concerns. There’s an emotional toll, too, and it can take a big toll on your quality of life.

At Grassroots Healthcare, our team helps patients from Tulsa, Oklahoma, take a multidisciplinary approach to care, offering both custom weight management programs and treatments for anxiety and other mood disorders to help patients lead healthier, more positive lives. Here’s how obesity could be affecting your emotional well-being.

The stigma of obesity

In today’s society, there’s a lot of pressure to be thin and fit — not just on TV and in movies, but all day long on social media, too. Many people who are overweight have found themselves teased or taunted, either directly or through general comments or insults about “fat people.”

If you’re overweight, there’s a good chance some well-meaning relatives or friends have given you “advice” on how to be healthier or “look better.” It’s true that obesity carries some serious health risks. But making someone feel self-conscious about their appearance is damaging, not encouraging.

Dealing on a daily basis with the stigma of obesity takes its toll. Ongoing exposure to jokes and nasty comments leaves lingering damage that can directly affect the way you feel about yourself and even make it harder to adopt healthy habits.

Self-image and self-confidence

Not surprisingly, societal pressures and expectations affect the way you feel about yourself when you’re obese. Many people with obesity suffer from low feelings of self-worth that bear on their perceived ability to achieve specific goals. 

Over time, pervasive feelings of self-doubt and low self-esteem can cause withdrawal socially. In fact, research shows many people who are obese also struggle with loneliness and the feeling that they don’t “fit in” with other people.

Depression and obesity

Research has also linked obesity with higher levels of depression. That’s probably due in part to the previous factors — the stigma associated with obesity and the decline in self-esteem. 

But obesity can also interfere with your ability to be physically active. Obesity puts a strain on your joints, and even simple activities like walking can be painful. Plus, many people with obesity find they’re short of breath during physical activity, or they may tire very easily.

Physical activity and exercise are associated with increased production of so-called “feel good chemicals” that boost mood and help keep depression at bay. If obesity is keeping you from being as active as you need to be, then your brain isn’t benefiting from those chemicals, making depression a lot more likely.

Together, depression and obesity can make it hard to socialize, too. When you don’t socialize, you’re also more likely to develop depression. If you already feel depressed and movement makes you uncomfortable, it’s much easier to succumb to the desire to stay put, sleeping, lounging in front of the TV, or even binge-eating. This cycle of obesity and depression can be very difficult to break without professional support.

Live healthy — break the cycle

If you’re obese, getting the emotional support you need isn’t always easy. Because of the physical and emotional effects of being obese, losing excess pounds and adopting a healthier lifestyle can be extremely challenging. Having professional help is the key to overcoming those challenges and breaking unhealthy cycles that have you trapped. 

At Grassroots Healthcare, our team helps patients of all ages take important steps to improve their health and wellness, with custom medical weight loss programs and support for its physical and emotional effects. If you’re struggling with obesity, call the office or use our online form and schedule an appointment today.

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