Study suggests link between childhood obesity and depression

Study suggests link between childhood obesity and depression

Considering the rising prevalence of depression across the United States, scientists are constantly conducting studies to understand the relevant factors that increase the likelihood of various mental problems. Now, a group of researchers from the Stanford University School of Medicine has highlighted the concurrent problems of obesity and depression in both children and adolescents. According to a recent study published online in the journal Hormones and Behavior, depression and obesity in children may be caused by shared aberrations in the reward-processing regions of the brain.

The researchers of the study, titled “Brain and behavioral correlates of insulin resistance in youth with depression and obesity,” examined MRI scans of children and teens, aged 9-17 years, diagnosed with depression, and failed to lose excess flab. The authors of the study elucidated that young children and adolescents afflicted with both the conditions bear the brunt of stigma and may refrain from sharing their problems or seeking necessary medical help.

Analyzing the twin problem of obesity and depression

The researchers explained how the tendency to remain obese and feel depressed continue till adulthood, if not treated early. Adolescents with depressive symptoms trying to gain control over their persistent emotional fatigue tend to overeat, resulting in weight gain and bullying by peers that further exacerbate their depression. “Independently, in obesity and depression, the same brain networks popped up, and that was curious to us. We thought maybe that was a link that would help us understand better why these symptoms coexist,” said Manpreet Singh, lead author of the study.

For better understanding of co-occurring obesity and depression problems, the researchers looked at details of 42 young respondents who not only had a body mass index (BMI) exceeding the 85th percentile, but also suffered from moderate to acute depression. Before the participants sought treatment for their problems, their conditions were evaluated using standard clinical tests with the help of questionnaires to understand the extent of depression they were grappling with. In addition, the researchers also tried to look into the participants’ eating habits. The insulin level of the participants was also measured when they were fasting and after they had eaten their foods.

Assessment of the findings indicated how increased insulin resistance and signs of depression were associated with intense connections between the two reward centers of the brain. The authors shared, “We have come closer to understanding the specific shared mechanisms between these syndromes and the commensurate neurofunctional markers that accompany them.”

Depression is treatable

The findings of the study lay the groundwork for assessing symptoms of depression in obese patients. Obese patients are vulnerable to mental illnesses like depression and anxiety. Since it is not clear as to what age they tend to become more prone to emotional disorders, it is necessary to treat them early. The first step to curing such patients is to destigmatize the problems of both obesity and depression.

The two common mental disorders – anxiety and depression – can co-exist. Some people, including adolescents, grapple with depression and develop anxiety, while others suffer from anxiety and experience depressive symptoms later. Many people can also experience both the conditions simultaneously. So, it is necessary to refer such patients to one of the best anxiety disorders treatment centers in their vicinity.

Sovereign Health is a leading mental health treatment provider in the U.S. If you or your loved one is suffering from mental illnesses like depression and anxiety, call our 24/7 helpline number at 866-973-7164 for more information about our anxiety treatment centers in California. You can also chat with our online counselors for more information about our world-class depression treatment centers in California.

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