Pune: A well-paid job, loving family and caring friends – life was perfect for 27-year-old Ankita Garg, a fashion designer by profession. But this was before depression hit her.
A cheerful person by nature, Ankita’s behaviour was now synonymous with ‘apathetic’ and ‘negative’. She had begun avoiding friends and family, confining herself to home and not socialising.
On medical consultation, it turned out that it was excess weight which was the major reason behind her depressive symptoms.
“Obesity is strongly linked with depression and both conditions are associated with a number of co-morbidities. It has been observed that obese people especially women are often stigmatised, resulting in low self-esteem and depression. Moreover, depressed people are more likely to have sedentary lifestyle and practice poor eating habits, such as binging, which further leads to weight gain,” says Dr Satish Pattanshetty, Bariatric Director and Consultant in DOSS Clinic, 409/410, Sohrab Hall, Opp Jehangir hospital, Sasoon Road, Pune.
Terming obesity as an ‘escalating global epidemic’, the World Health Organization states that global obesity rates have doubled in the past three decades. Obesity is the fifth-largest cause of mortality in the world, causing more deaths than of people underweight. On the other hand, depression has been estimated to affect 350 million people across the world.
Presenting a risk to health, obesity arises when there is an energy imbalance between the amount of calories consumed and expended. Essentially when the amount of calorie intake exceeds that being used, by not doing enough physical activity, it builds up as excessive body fat. Experts point out that obese people have a 20 percent higher risk of depression.
Apart from binge eating, reduced physical activity and body dissatisfaction issues which result in weight gain, depressed people often have dysregulated levels of cortisol hormone in their blood. This leads to overeating and increased fat tissue production.
Interestingly, it has been shown that no matter what your weight is, in fact, if you are obese, even a 5- 10 percent weight loss will have perceivable health benefits. While physical activity and diet modifications comprise the main line of management for weight loss, for people with extreme obesity, in other words having body mass index (obesity assessment tool) more than 30kg/m2, more aggressive measures need to be adopted.
Although right changes in lifestyle could help maintain a healthy body weight, at times underlying medical conditions, such as hormonal problems, genetics or problems in the knee that make physical activity very difficult, make the weight loss process very difficult, even impossible. And this is where medical interventions like Bariatric surgery come into play.
“Bariatric surgery is an option for people suffering from extreme obesity when diet and exercise are ineffective or when there are medical complications related to obesity. When combined with moderate physical activity, healthy diet and nutritional supplements, surgery has been shown to achieve and maintain weight-loss,” says Dr Satish Pattanshetty, Bariatric Director and Consultant in DOSS Clinic, 409/410, Sohrab Hall, Opp Jehangir hospital, Sasoon Road, Pune.
As for the effect of undergoing bariatric surgery on the psychological health (read symptoms of depression) of a person, a one-year follow-up study published in PubMed revealed a significant reduction in depression among female patients post-surgery4. It has been established scientifically that bariatric surgery is an effective method of reducing weight as well as managing depression.
Recent medical advances have made an intricate procedure such as bariatric surgery minimally invasive, safe and extremely effective. Bariatric surgery either works by shrinking the size of the stomach (gastric banding), in turn restricting the calorie intake; by bypassing the stomach altogether (Roux-en-Y) or removing a part of the stomach (sleeve gastrectomy). While the three procedures are little different from each other, in all the three cases the size of the stomach is reduced, which in turn reduces the food intake and helps in weight loss.
So, with such innovative medical procedures that render weight-loss a cakewalk, it’s time to bid depression goodbye and look up to a healthier, fitter you!
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