Changes in weight can be a symptom of mental illness. Weight loss and weight gain are associated with depression. Moreover, weight gain and weight loss are also associated with some depression medication. When depressed, weight changes may be difficult to fight, but once on the right medication, a healthier weight can be achieved.
Depression and Weight Loss
Weight loss is considered a typical symptom of depression. In the latest version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR), weight changes, including weight loss, are one of the possible diagnostic criteria for depression. People with depression often feel too depressed to eat and lose weight. Depression and weight loss may also be linked as a person with depression may feel no pleasure from eating, and thus is less motivated to do it.
Depression and Weight Gain
Weight gain is also a recognized symptom of depression and the DSM-IV-TR lists it as one of the diagnostic criteria. Weight gain may occur because a person with depression is exercising less and eating more in an attempt to comfort themselves. Depression and weight gain may also be linked simply because a person with depression is less likely to participate in any activity requiring energy due to fatigue.
Depression and weight gain are also linked by antidepressants. (read:Antidepressants and Weight Gain – SSRIs and Weight Gain) While no one can predict ahead of time which antidepressant will cause weight gain for any individual, some antidepressants are more prone to weight gain than others. Antidepressants more likely to cause weight gain include:1
- Tricyclic antidepressants
- Monoamine oxidase inhibitors
- Paroxetine (Paxil)
- Mirtazapine (Remeron)
A person may also gain weight once a depression subsides if, during the depression, the person had lost weight.