It's January – Let's Diet!

Tuesday January 14, 2014

If we have had any exposure to media at all in the last two weeks it will not have escaped our attention that the whole of our society is obsessed with weight issues. Standing in the queue at the newsagents it seemed that every single women's magazine featured either an article on how to lose 5lb by Friday or a woman who lost 7stone last year. There was one crafting magazine which featured crocheting doilies – but I'm sure they were FAT doilies who really wanted to be slim doilies in 2014 too! We are obsessed indeed.

For those of us with depression these messages are not just annoying, but can be dangerous. While for some of us depression is an appetite suppressant and we lose weight while we are ill, for many more of us, we gain weight for a number of reasons.

The first and most obvious reason is that some of the drugs used to treat depression have weight gain as a side effect. If we need the relief the drugs provide, then the weight is the lesser evil.

One of the frequent but not well known symptoms of depression is the feeling of exhaustion it brings. When we are tired our brain tells us to eat so we have some energy. It would like some energy quickly please, so carbohydrates are the logical choice. Therefore we crave the carbs. But we're still exhausted – too exhausted to run around doing our normal amount of exercise, so we end up consuming far more calories than we use and thus gain weight.

If we are carrying too much weight (medically speaking), should we worry? Should we jump aboard the dieting train (or exercise bicycle) and pour our money into the coffers of the weight loss industry?

You can probably guess my answer to that one. I love the approach that Sandra Aamodt, Neuroscientist and science writer, suggests in her TED talk on Why Dieting Doesn't Usually Work: http://tinyurl.com/plk2ebn

If you don't have time to listen to the whole thing, then skip to eight minutes into the talk and see that just carrying around a few extra pounds is not as life-threatening as the diet industry wants you to believe.

The best advice is the same as the Moodscope team give time after time: eat a good diet with lots of fruit and veg and protein, drink loads of water (and go easy on the alcohol), get at least some exercise if you can.

And don't let the media persuade you to add points to that guilty card.

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