How to Lose Weight When Depressed

People who are overweight are more likely to become depressed, according to research reported in Archives of General Psychiatry. Likewise, depressed people are at greater risk to gain weight. Many who are depressed become inactive and immobile. They turn to food for comfort, packing on pounds as they withdraw from people and activities. To complicate matters even further, many antidepressant medications have a side effect of causing weight gain. However, depression does not have to result in weight gain.

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Set a goal for how much weight you want to lose. Commit to making gradual but consistent changes to your lifestyle. Figure on losing a pound or so per week. To achieve this, shed 500 to 1,000 calories per day by consuming fewer calories, burning more calories through increased activity, or better yet, both.

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Examine your current daily activity patterns. Research such as that described at the A Healthy Me website suggests that exercise and activity can improve the symptoms of depression. Though it may be challenging, mentally commit yourself to increasing your activity level.

Set specific daily and weekly goals that include the amount of time and the type of activity you are going to engage in. Strive to exercise at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week. Explore health magazines, community clubs and organizations, health clubs and the web to find activities you enjoy.

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Get an evaluation and seek treatment for your depression. Speak with your doctor about your plans to lose weight and increase activity. Your doctor should complete a comprehensive physical evaluation to rule out underlying illnesses such as hormonal, metabolic, nutritional, or allergic conditions that may contribute to your depression and weight issues.

Consider seeing a psychiatrist for a medication evaluation or a therapist for talking therapy. When reviewing pharmaceuticals with your psychiatrist, make sure you discuss which medications pose a higher risk for weight gain.

Read caloric and nutritional labels of the food you eat and eliminate from your diet any foods with empty calories, including fast food and fried, starchy, sugary, sweet and processed foods.

Eat foods that stabilize your blood sugar and increase the availability of important brain chemicals such as serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. To accomplish this include in your diet fresh, whole foods such as whole grain pastas and whole grain breads; fresh vegetables and fruit; and proteins such as lean meat, poultry, seafood, beans, nuts and seeds. Promote the contribution of complex carbohydrates in your diet, covering a third to a half of your plate with fruits and vegetables.

Decrease your portion sizes. Measure out recommended serving sizes until you learn to adjust your expectations regarding what constitutes an appropriate serving.

Eliminate emotional eating. Monitor your moods and motives when food cravings strike. Don’t allow sadness, anxiety, boredom or force of habit trigger food binges. Instead, eat balanced meals and planned, nutritious snacks.

Weigh in around the same time daily. If you stop losing weight for several weeks, then return to Step 2 and repeat the process through to step 10. Once you reach your desired weight, you merely maintain the new lifestyle you have developed.


Consult one of the many online calories-burned calculators, such as at Health Status, to see estimates of the number of calories you burn by engaging in specific activities.

For meals and snacks, combine complex carbohydrates and proteins to stabilize blood sugar, heighten mental acuity, and enhance mood.