You already know that losing weight will reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. It will lead to a longer, healthier life, you’ll spend less on medical bills, and you might be happier with your appearance. These are all widely recognized benefits of weight loss, but there’s one more that you may not have even considered. An abundance of medical research shows that weight loss is also linked to relief of depression!
Now, it’s hard to say whether the extra weight itself contributes to depression, or if the methods we commonly employ to lose weight are what actually relieves symptoms like lethargy, sleeplessness, and morose feelings. The bottom line is, it probably doesn’t matter whether the chicken or the egg come first in this situation. Studies* have shown that weight loss does contribute to a better mood and outlook on life!
Why does this happen? Well, we don’t know for sure, but the following factors look to be likely causes:
- Exercise – most weight loss programs emphasize the fact that you need to get out there and burn calories in order to lose weight. But another benefit of exercise is a release of endorphins, which boost your mood and help to (at least temporarily) relieve the symptoms of depression.
- Dietary changes – as you know, weight loss usually involves some dietary changes. Since simple carbohydrates like sugar are digested quickly, leading to a quick rise and fall in blood sugar levels, the mood crashes many of us feel multiple times throughout the day are likely linked to our poor diets. When you change the way you eat, healthier foods often lead to better moods.
- Pride in your accomplishments – it goes without saying that when we accomplish goals, our moods are boosted by that sense of pride. As you progress in your weight loss journey, you’ll experience a series of successes due to your hard work.
The root cause is probably due to a combination of these factors, as well as “side effects” of weight loss such as improved self confidence, better sleep, the praise you get from friends, and even an improved sex life. But one thing is clear: a hidden benefit of weight loss is often relief of depression. If you suffer from depression, add that to your list of great reasons to be persistent in your efforts!