Are you overweight? You are at risk of mental illness

There seems to be a link between people who are obese and higher risk of them developing depression. This is according to Dr Ian Westmore, board member of the Psychiatry Management Group.

He says there is a bi-directional relationship between obesity and depression, in that people who are depressed could end up being obese as well.

South Africa has the highest overweight and obesity rate in sub-Saharan Africa, with up to 70% of women and a third of men being classified as overweight or obese.

People who are overweight are often victims of stigma and that has influence on their image and self esteem.

Dr Ian Westmore, board member of the Psychiatry Management Group

It also has impact in the way that they socialise and the way they get included in social groups

Dr Ian Westmore, board member of the Psychiatry Management Group

There seems to be a gap when understanding the very real psychological impact of living with obesity, says Westmore.

He says health practitioners can't be simplistic about obesity as it is a result of a lot of factors that needs to be dealt with first.

He mentions traumatic experiences, genetics, certain medications, nutrition, exercise, and the perception of weight as some of the contributing factors.

Psychiatric disorders such as depression, attention deficit disorder, and posttraumatic stress disorder can lead to gaining of weight through “comfort eating,” a lack of interest in preparing healthy meals, and impulsive eating habits.

To hear more of this discussion, listen below:

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