Thursday, February 10, 2011

Overeating and Depression

Respected Readers,

It is of utmost delightment that my recent article got published in Chef Special; about over eating and depression. It has been my area of interest for quite a while, I observed numerous samples, while counseling and though my general observation. But after diving deep into literature; accompanied with empirical research; I realized that here exist significant link between over eating and depression. Have enjoyable reading.



Stress & Depression Leads to Over Eating & Obesity:

By: Prof. Ayesha Kashif

Tasty and tempting food is enjoyed by almost all normal human beings; yet few get to control their appetite and others let themselves flow over circumstances. One general observation about majority of hospitals around the globe depicts increased trend of diseases related with overeating and obesity. Other than being fan of tasty foods, and taking it as form of enjoyment, there are other reasons people get to eat more than their required diet. One of the key reasons is “Stress & Depression”. YES! It has been an established fact by now that humans tend to take more food when they are stressed or depressed. By now it is quite hard to identify that either depression induces obesity or its other way around. It is often believed that it is “Two Way Street”, but dilemma of chicken/egg problem stays.

What is Stress Eating: Stress eating occurs when we try to resolve a problem or conflict by eating, as eating is considered to be a “pleasure” for almost all human beings, so in order to gain pleasure and divert our attention form the stressful situation we eat, even when we are not hungry.

In order to keep things simple; before we proceed, let us have a look at some of stress inducing factors that are likely to lead to depression. Some of most common factors are:

• Death of a loved one

• Marital problems

• Major personal injury or prolonged illness

• Academic failure

• Unable to cope with educational burden

• Pregnancy

• Increased work load

• Change in living conditions

• Sleeplessness

• Divorce/ Broken Relationship

• Serious arguments with girlfriend or boyfriend

• Change in eating habits

• Financial issues

• People’s undue expectations from you

• Unstable political or economic condition of the country

Due to whatever factor humans get depressed, they are likely to increase or decrease level of food intake. Majority goes for increased food intake; now question is why do they do so? There are several believes about it. Although; one thing is sure that Humans see “Satisfaction in Eating” in state of depression. As during depression we feel “Worthless” and lost “Self Esteem” it is likely that we start focusing to the basic needs. And food seems to elevate us by making us filled to upper level of needs. Although as source of depression stays in our mind. We get back to level one, and take support of food as it helped us in past.

Commonly heavy eaters elaborate it as act of attaining Euphoric feeling” (feeling of joy). Although it just serves as food for more food craving. Just like initial stage drug addiction cycle. Temporarily heavy food input satisfy physiological motive, and one feels satisfied for short interval of time; latter “feeling of guilt” due to failure of self control takes over, and promises are made to self that tomorrow or in future it will be different. With time that self esteem is further killed with failed self control and overeating becomes addiction in itself. As every next time desire is to take even more food to attain that “Euphoric feeling”, Over eating also results in over sleeping, eventually leading to obesity and poor motor skills, physical appearance, movement problems, lower resistance to temperatures and many other sources combined results in greater depression. And this spiral destroys human life, emotionally and physically.

Now question arise how to control it? Obviously by breaking this cycle, solution to this we will start with a quotation that will summarize overall philosophy and solution.

Know yourself & Know your enemy, you can win 100 battles without disaster”

Here is a difference between obesity and overweight; but for now we will try to use words interchangeably. For brief explanation Obesity = %age weight. And Overweight is dependent over BMI (Body Mass Index), we are providing this information here because we need to know our limits; and to avoid being overweight we at least need to know at what limit we will be considered over weight?

BMI Formula = KG/ (Meter*Meter), Pounds/ (Inch*Inch)


Weight Status

Below 18.5


18.5 -24.9


25 - 29.9


30 & Above


National Institute of Mental Health (USA) found that nearly one out of four cases of obesity is associated with a mood or anxiety disorder.

How to overcome this problem:

In order to get away from this problematic spiral, first step is to get weighing machine and determine your target. Choosing the right kind of food is the first step towards the solution of this problem. Try to choose such foods that are less oily and less sweet but more nutritious. Avoid all kinds of junk food and drinks. Exercise is greatest way to reduce weight, moment we start burning our fats, depression seems to burn too. Exercising requires strong self control to just start it; for initial few weeks it requires winning battle of self commitment daily; after that it follows. Take out your depression over treadmill or jogging track. We live in dynamic world; where nothing is consistent, so is the source of your depression; soon it will be covered in dust of time. Plus keep your expectation lowest from this world, so low that you stay prepared for worst. Return more love to world, while establishing courage to say “NO!” especially to your own self. Buy new cloths, as form of celebration whenever you attain weight reduction goal. Letting yourself flow with time, will only leave you over others. Nothing positive will happen at its own; Take control of your destiny or someone else will. Have a happy, healthy and stress free life: it’s precious.