February 19, 2020
Disclaimer: This article should not substitute professional medical advice. When starting a new diet or exercise plan, always consult your physician first. In relation to mental/behavioral health, please consult a licensed medical professional before starting or stopping any type of medication or making any lifestyle changes.
Making small behavioral changes in reducing factors such as smoking, poor nutrition, and physical activity will likely improve your general well-being.
Studies have shown that diets that include healthy, whole foods can improve mental and physical well-being.
Self-care is an important factor in improving and maintaining your overall health. Arm yourself with your own Wellness Toolkit to manage your physical, emotional, and mental health.
Improving your physical health is important in reducing the incidence of chronic conditions such as diabetes Type II, metabolic syndrome, and cardiovascular disease, but can it also play a role in improving your mental health?
The life expectancy of people struggling with mental illness is significantly reduced by one to two decades compared with those who address and treat their mental health. Additionally, those who are overweight and obese have been reported to have an increase in depressive syndromes compared to those at an otherwise healthy weight.
The term, “mental health”, once a taboo subject, has now made its way to the main stage and is one of the most discussed topics in healthcare. Your primary care doctor has likely discussed mental health and depression with you at your annual checkup. Your company’s wellness plan most likely has an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) that includes confidential assessments and counseling services.
Depression and Increased Weight The association between obesity and depressive disorders is common and, unfortunately, a cyclical trap. Perceived negative body image and insecurities can lead to unhealthy behaviors such as disordered eating, low self-esteem, and increased mental stress.
Similarly, studies have been performed to identify whether psychological illnesses, such as depression, can cause those individuals at an otherwise healthy weight to have an increased chance of becoming overweight or obese. Depressive symptoms can negatively impact your physical health through the development of eating disorders and increased isolation, which can lead to decreased physical activity.
Causes of weight gain American adults continue to pack on the pounds year after year. The National Center for Health Statistics indicates that almost 40% of all adults over the age of 20 are considered obese. Additionally, 31.8% of American adults are considered overweight, which means over 70% of our population at a higher risk for developing chronic health conditions.In the U.S., you can attribute the rise in obesity to three main issues:
Sedentary lifestyle Technology is both a blessing and a curse. We can have anything we want delivered to our doorstep and it is affecting our health. Rather than taking a walk to the grocery store or spending an afternoon walking through the mall, we opt for next day delivery and curbside pick-up.
A 2016 study performed by the Bipartisan Policy Center discovered that Americans averaged just over 6,800 steps per day. To meet the CDC’s recommendation for exercise per day, you should aim for 8,000-10,000 steps per day to reduce health risks.
The Standard American Diet (S.A.D.) As with living a sedentary lifestyle, the Standard American Diet is a result of being too busy and wanting things immediately. S.A.D. is how the typical American diet is described and is it ever! It generally consists of a daily intake of processed foods and foods that are high in sugar, salt, and unhealthy saturated fats.
A 2010 report from the National Cancer Institute found that nine out of ten Americans do not get the recommended daily intake of vegetables per day, and three out of four do not eat a single serving of fruit per day.
Following a diet rich in whole foods, including fresh fruit, vegetables, and healthy fats like lean meats and olive oil can greatly reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and help maintain a healthy weight.
Genetics Science shows that genetics can play a role in weight and body proportion. That said, it does not predict future health unless you let it take control. It is important to know your family history of all health-related issues to take a preventive approach.
Psychological Toll of Gaining Weight Whether you’ve fallen into the trap of the Standard American Diet or being too sedentary, or perhaps you just can’t get motivated after a long winter, you know that the impact of unhealthy weight gain can begin to stir up feelings of hopelessness.Unwanted weight gain almost always leads to negative body image. Body image has been shown to play a significant role in eating and weight disorders and has been linked to depressive behavior.
Recent studies have found that obese individuals are more body-conscious than those at a healthy weight and that they have a harder time losing weight due to stress. Psychological stress is directly related to increased cortisol levels, which tends to make the body hold on to fat stores. Psychological stress can also increase feelings of anxiety and make individuals feel discouraged to begin eating healthy or exercising.
While genetics may also play a role in developing depression or increasing your risk of obesity and related chronic illnesses, there are many things you can do each day to reduce your risk.
Small changes to your normal routine can make a significant impact on your overall mental well-being. Changes can include improving diet, increasing exercise, developing a mindfulness practice, and finding a confidant.
Depression and Your Physical Health Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S. These disorders include Panic Disorder, Social Anxiety, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and Major Depressive Disorder.
Depression is a debilitating and, in severe cases, a life-threatening disease that affects over 16 million people nationwide. The cause of depression is not always known and can arise from biological factors (genetics), individual brain chemistry, certain medications, uncontrolled stress, and inadequate nutrition.
Mental illness and the incidence of becoming overweight or obese frequently occur together, whether as a result of each other, or simply due to sharing common risk factors: smoking, poor nutrition, physical inactivity, and alcohol consumption.
Medications prescribed for depression and anxiety disorders have been widely accepted and are very successful at maintaining the mental health of those who suffer from these conditions. A side effect of many of these medications, however, is weight gain. As with genetics, being educated on the possible side effects will help in reducing your risk of, or controlling, weight gain when taking medication.
It is always a good idea to hire a mental health professional to assist with your mental health journey. These professionals can help identify triggers for your anxiety and depression and will help guide you on a path toward overall wellness.
Your Personalized Wellness Toolkit When embarking on any health and wellness journey, it is important to remember that you can’t change everything at once. An unhealthy diet and lack of exercise is a
detrimental routine. Creating a new routine will probably be difficult, but by making small, incremental changes, you will improve both your mental and physical health and put yourself on the path to total wellness.
Start by building your own personalized Wellness Toolkit.