Many obese individuals participating in weight reduction programs which emphasize exercise and lifestyle modifications see an improvement in their depression, according to a new review published in February in the International Journal of Obesity.
The weight loss programs varied, and included diet-only, exercise-only, and programs emphasizing counseling and behavioral change. Some participants also took medication to assist their weight loss, while others received no treatment. The studies included approximately 8000 folks.
As a whole, those in almost every type of weight loss program that didn’t involve medication experienced mood improvement. The programs that focused on lifestyle modifications provided the most benefit of all.
Treatment modalities involving medication did not improve mood at all. Also, the amount of weight the individual lost was mood-neutral.
Conclusion: Dysphoria and/or depressed mood commonly accompanies obesity. And similar to what is clinically observable in non-obese depressed people, medication doesn’t do the heavy lifting when it comes to mood improvement. Only multi-modal approaches that incorporate tangible, measurable interventions work over the long haul.
As obese individuals experience the pounds coming off, there’s a natural progression toward improved body image. Throw in the social support received from other people, and the overweight person has carved out a bona fide recipe for continued success. Medication doesn’t change behavior; daily living goals accompanied by the hard work that emphasizes lifestyle changes do.