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According to a study done at Rutgers University, adolescent women who experience depression are at increased risk for obesity as they get older.
Conversely, adolescent women who are obese have an increased risk for developing depression as they enter adulthood.
This connection between depression and obesity, which does not hold true for young men, is thought to be made through acquired lifestyle habits.
The habits we develop during our teenage years can stay with us into adulthood and influence our health.
If a young woman is depressed during junior high or high school, she might develop unhealthy eating habits to cope with symptoms of fatigue, sadness, or hopelessness. These dietary habits—especially if they involve consuming a lot of sugars, fats, and carbohydrates—might result in weight gain as this woman enters her twenties.
If a young woman is obese during adolescence, she may develop negative patterns of feeling and thought related to the social stigma of being over weight. Negative thought habits often translate into a poor sense of self worth—putting this woman at greater risk for depression later on.
The Rutgers research indicates a there is a link between depression and obesity over time, but does not prove lifestyle patterns are what connect the two. The investigators theorize that acquired habits create the link, and that medical professionals should be aware of this possibility.
The researchers hope that when an adolescent girl sees a counselor for depression, the clinician will emphasize healthy eating habits and exercise as part of the treatment plan. When a physician sees a young woman for obesity, it is hoped the doctor will also the screen for depression and, if necessary, recommend group support or counseling.
This study reminds all of us that none of our behaviors exist in a vacuum. Everything we do—the habits we express—have a cascading effect on other areas of our life. If our diet is unhealthy, we may sleep poorly. If we do not sleep well, it will be more difficult to manage daily stress. When we are stressed and irritable, our relationships will suffer.
If you are experiencing symptoms of depression or lack a sense of self worth for any reason, consider seeking help. Utilize school nurses and counselors, spiritual mentors, support groups, or professional counseling services. Creating more effective habits in one area of our life can have a positive cascading effect on the other areas.
Photo by Julie Vaccalluzzo
Source: Science Daily
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