Mental Health: How Obesity Affects Social Life, Psychological Illness | Health

byZarafshan ShirazDelhi

Patients suffering from obesity are subject to weight-based stigma and prejudice in many aspects of their lives because society perceives them negatively and labels them as having low willpower and self-control. Their value is determined not by their outward appearance but by their abilities where they are constantly teased and ridiculed and receive constant unfair advice about their weight and body shape.

This has a negative impact on body image and can ultimately lead to low self-esteem and depression in many people and it has been observed that women are more vulnerable to obesity-related depression than men where it has been exacerbated during the Covid 19 pandemic. In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr. Aparna Govil Bhaskar, bariatric and laparoscopic surgeon at Saifi, Apollo Spectra, Namaha and Kurre Hospitals in Mumbai shared, “One of the risk factors that increased the severity of Covid-19 infection was obesity. This, along with social distancing norms in most countries, forced obesity patients to stay indoors. This caused great stress and uncertainty in the lives of people suffering from obesity. Increased anxiety made them more vulnerable to overeating and sedentary lifestyles, which put them at risk of gaining more weight.”

Today we all live alternative lives on social media, but unfortunately, social media is filled with weight-based memes and highly stigmatizing content about obesity, which reinforces the stereotype that obese people can be lazy and less active and less willpower. strength Dr Aparna Govil Bhaskar said, “Internalisation of these weight-biased attitudes in media portrayals has been shown to have adverse effects on psychological health, leading to increased depression and anxiety, low self-esteem, body image issues and disordered eating. Weight-based internalizing is also associated with greater emotional distress and has been linked to depression.

He highlighted, “Patients suffering from mental health disorders are also more likely to be obese. Insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome have been shown to be associated with schizophrenia. Many antipsychotic medications also cause weight gain and affect insulin sensitivity. Many psychological disorders are also associated with comfort eating, lack of interest in preparing healthy meals, impulsive eating and sometimes food addiction. As a result, weight gain in these patients further exacerbates psychological problems and creates a vicious cycle.”

Emphasizing that obesity affects not only physical health but also mental health, he suggested, “It’s time we create systems that can help our patients. We need to use technology to its full potential so we can spread positive messages, encourage our patients online, and change the tone of social media messaging. While we need to educate our patients to practice self-compassion and mindfulness, we also need to be more sensitive to the issues that patients with obesity face. Obesity and mental health issues are closely interrelated and require our attention more holistically. When treating patients suffering from obesity, we must remember that the definition of “health” is not merely the absence of disease or infirmity, but a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being.

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