Person experiencing depression and weight gain stepping on a scale

Depression and Weight Gain

Depression can have a profound impact on an individual’s life. Not only does this mental health condition cause distress and difficulty functioning, but it may also lead to weight gain. Studies suggest a strong relationship between depression and weight gain, as those suffering from depression have a higher risk of becoming overweight or obese.

It’s essential for those struggling with weight issues and depression to seek professional help. At Promises, we offer inpatient depression treatment in an immersive and supportive recovery environment. Call 844.875.5609 to learn more about our comprehensive approach that provides clients with the best chances of long-term recovery and wellness.

Why Does Depression Cause Weight Gain?

Research shows that depression can trigger unwanted weight gain. There are several reasons why this particular mental health disorder can cause the scale to creep upward. People who struggle with depression and weight gain may experience one or more of the following:

Poor Sleep

Sleep disturbances, such as frequent waking and insomnia, are common symptoms of depression. Poor sleep can adversely affect hormones that regulate the appetite, leading to hunger and increased weight. 

Increased Appetite

Changes in appetite are common among people who have depression. For some, this mental health condition triggers a loss of appetite and subsequent weight loss. For others, it causes hunger and food cravings, resulting in unwanted weight gain.

Comfort Eating

People who are depressed may use food to ease feelings of sadness, anger, anxiety, or shame. In many cases, these negative emotions cause individuals to reach for foods high in calories, sugar, or fat, causing weight increases. 

Low Energy

Those with depression often lack the energy to do everyday things. Since preparing healthy meals can feel like an undertaking, individuals may eat unhealthy snacks that cause them to gain extra pounds. Low energy can also reduce motivation to exercise, preventing people from burning enough calories to avoid weight gain.


Depression can make a person’s life more stressful. In addition to slowing the metabolism, stress may increase the production of cortisol, a hormone that contributes to weight gain.

A combination of these factors often leads to increased weight. Over time, chronic or recurring depression may play a role in the development of obesity.

Does Weight Gain Trigger Depression? 

Weight gain can trigger depression because it affects an individual’s body image, self-esteem, and overall quality of life. Negative emotions associated with elevated body weight may cause a person to eat as a coping mechanism, creating a cycle of depression and weight gain. 

Furthermore, physical health conditions linked to being overweight or obese can add to the hopelessness that accompanies depression. The onset of medical conditions, such as cardiovascular disease or type 2 diabetes, further contributes to a person’s poor body image and confidence levels, increasing depressive symptoms. 

People struggling with weight gain may also face discrimination or exclusion from certain activities. They may feel uncomfortable in social settings due to their size or have physical limitations due to the extra weight. This sense of exclusion and alienation only adds emotional distress, further exacerbating depression symptoms. 

Overcoming Depression and Weight Gain

In many cases, there’s not a clear-cut answer to the question: Does depression trigger weight gain, or does weight gain cause depression? However, there are several things a person can do to combat depression and unwanted weight gain.

Seek Therapy

Therapy is one of the most effective treatments for depression. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) helps people change their thinking patterns to reduce feelings of hopelessness. Through CBT, individuals learn to recognize negative thoughts and find healthier ways to respond to them. 

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is an effective therapy for those with severe depression. DBT emphasizes building mindfulness skills, regulating emotions,  improving distress tolerance, and coping with suicidal thoughts or behaviors. 

Get Active

Exercise is an effective strategy for battling depression. Physical activity releases endorphins, which are natural mood boosters. Staying active also increases serotonin, a hormone associated with improved mood and mental clarity. 

Exercise may also promote healthy sleep patterns, decrease fatigue, and help individuals become more resilient against depressive episodes. Social activities that involve movement, such as group sports or running clubs, can provide a valuable source of support for those experiencing depression. 

Eat Well

Eating nutrient-rich foods and avoiding processed, sugary snacks can boost energy levels and improve mood. Whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, and lean proteins are excellent sources of vitamins and minerals necessary for good mental health. Eating a wide variety of these foods provides the body with essential nutrients to regulate hormones, serotonin levels, and overall brain function.

Manage Stress

Managing stress is an essential part of successfully treating depression. Examples of stress management techniques include mindful meditation, journaling, deep breathing exercises, socializing with supportive family and friends, and engaging in enjoyable activities.

Turn to Promises for Help With Depression and Weight Gain

Don’t allow depression and weight gain to get in the way of your best life. At Promises, our inpatient depression treatment program takes a compassionate, comprehensive approach to clients with depression. Through personalized therapy, medication management, and support groups, we can help you find relief. 

Promises provides evidence-based treatment with a focus on individualized care. Together, we can forge a practical path toward helping you manage symptoms and make lasting changes. Take the first step towards feeling better today by calling 844.875.5609 or completing our contact form.

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