Does Depression Make us Fat?

April 29, 2009

(ChattahBox)—Researchers from the Rush University Medical Center of Chicago, discovered that depression is responsible for layers of visceral fat, which settles around the stomach, tightly packed between internal organs. It’s believed that when we become depressed or stressed, our bodies start producing cortisol and inflammatory compounds, which trigger the dense accumulation of visceral fat at our waistlines.

People with chronic depression who continually produce high levels of cortisol are at greater risk for obesity, heart disease and diabetes.

Head Researcher, Lynda Powell, PhD., says the study shows that central adiposity or belly fat, is an important link contributing to previous studies which discovered that depressed patients have a higher rate of heart disease.

The Rush study evaluated 409 middle-aged women; half African-American and half Caucasian, who were pre-screened for depression. Researchers discovered in the study that the type of fat was important.

Researchers found that a larger waistline was not the best factor in determining which woman were at higher risk for developing cardiovascular disease. The fat around our waists is known as subcutaneous fat, which settles right below our skin tissue. Although unsightly, subcutaneous fat doesn’t necessarily put patients at a higher risk for heart disease.

The real culprit is visceral fat, which accumulates deeper and affects our vital organs, surrounding them in unhealthy fat deposits. The researchers measured the amount of visceral fat using CT scans.

Happy people with no visceral fat, but plenty of subcutaneous fat, were not found to be at a greater risk for heart disease. This study points to the need for increased screening and treatment of depression to prevent deadly heart disease.



4 Responses to “Does Depression Make us Fat?”

  1. Does Depression Make us Fat? | Your Health.. on April 29th, 2009 10:33 am

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  2. Does Depression Make us Fat? on April 29th, 2009 10:47 am

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  3. isaac isbell on April 29th, 2009 10:51 am

    depression dosen’t make everyone fat. It can do the excat opposite, like a girlfriend i had in sixth grade she wasn’t the smallest thing on the earth but wasn’t fat ether. she got mixed up with some wrong people that called her all sort of fat names. she became stressed out and depressed. she started dieting and trying to make her self skinnyer to be appercated. next thing i knew iwas visting her the hospital for eating to little and having suicidal thoughts.
    so say it’s not the biggest factor, it dose cause alot of undereating for some and myself had the same problem in the past.

  4. Sue on April 29th, 2009 11:26 am

    Thank you for your comment isaac isbell. Yes, you are right some with clinical depression suffer from severe loss of appetite. Although, not all people suffering from clinical depression become overweight, they still are at a higher risk to develop other health problems. Untreated depression is a huge health problem in this country, responsible for loss of life from suicide.

    I’m sorry to hear about your friend, but I’m glad she is getting treatment. And if you find yourself in a “funk” that just doesn’t seem to go away, please don’t be ashamed to ask for help.


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