Weight loss counseling lifts depression in new study

April 25, 2013 by Lisa M. Larson & Bryan Goodchild

(Medical Xpress)—Women struggling with clinical depression and obesity should consider a comprehensive weight loss program to significantly boost their mood, according to new research out of UMass Medical School published in the International Journal of Obesity.

In the randomized, controlled "Be Active" trial, 47 percent of women who participated in a diet and exercise program erased all signs of depression at one year. Sixty-seven percent of women in a second group—which received behavior therapy for depression followed by a shorter diet and —saw their depression resolve in a year's time.

Approximately 160 women, all of whom were dealing with obesity and depression, were recruited to participate in the two-year study. All participants received a 24-week comprehensive weight loss counseling from a and exercise . Half of the received 10 weeks of behavior therapy for depression first, followed by a 16-week comprehensive weight program. Behavior therapy helps people with depression understand the impact of depression on their lives and to learn how to construct happier and more fulfilling lives.

Researchers found that both groups lost significant weight—about the same amount, even though the behavior therapy group spent less time focusing on weight loss. They also found that those who did not see a decrease in depression did not lose very much weight.

The video will load shortly

"Women with depression may benefit from a comprehensive in terms of both their weight and depression," said Sherry Pagoto, PhD, associate professor of medicine and lead author on the study, "However if weight loss is slow or depression is not improving in the first few weeks, I recommend behavior therapy, which will very much increase the chance of recovering from depression."

Kathy Granados, 55, of Shrewsbury, took part in the group that included and weight loss counseling. She said she lost 39 pounds and found a new outlook on life.

"I'm a completely different person," Granados said. "I lost 39 pounds and I've kept off 35 of it. I used to be so insecure, feeling bad about myself and all that's changed. I still wish I could change a million things, but the good news is I feel I'm much kinder to myself than I ever was. That's the biggest change for me."

Granados said the onset of New England's snowy season has always meant a bout of depression for her, and along with it, weight gain.

"For some reason the winters are awful for me. I don't know what it is but I gain weight every winter," she said. "I go into a depression where I just go to work, come home, sit on the coach and can't do anything. I gain a lot of weight that way and I never take it off. When I heard about this study, I thought this is my chance."

"Weight loss counseling is good for your mood," said Dr. Pagoto. "If there is a concern about whether weight loss counseling is for you because you are depressed, we found it may have a very beneficial effect on your mood."

Explore further: Group therapy is an effective treatment option for depressed women with Type 2 diabetes

Related Stories

Group therapy is an effective treatment option for depressed women with Type 2 diabetes

October 3, 2012
Gender-specific group therapy is effective for treating depressed women with Type 2 diabetes, according to a study published in the latest issue of the Annals of Behavioral Medicine and funded by the National Institute of ...

Recommended for you

Are sugary drink interventions changing people's behaviour?

July 19, 2017
An evaluation of efforts designed to reduce how many sugary drinks we consume shows some success in changing younger people's habits but warns they cannot be the only way to cut consumption.

Young adult obesity: A neglected, yet essential focus to reverse the obesity epidemic

July 18, 2017
The overall burden of the U.S. obesity epidemic continues to require new thinking. Prevention of obesity in young adults, while largely ignored as a target for prevention and study, will be critical to reversing the epidemic, ...

Weight gain from early to middle adulthood may increase risk of major chronic diseases

July 18, 2017
Cumulative weight gain over the course of early and middle adulthood may increase health risks later in life, according to a new study led by researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. They found that, compared ...

Study finds children carry implicit bias towards peers who are overweight

June 23, 2017
Even children as young as 9 years old can carry a prejudice against their peers who are overweight, according to a new study led by Duke Health researchers. They might not even realize they feel this way.

Mother's obesity boosts risk for major birth defects: study

June 15, 2017
Children of obese women are more likely to be afflicted by major birth defects, including malformations of the heart and genitals, according to a study published on Thursday.

New study finds more than 2 billion people overweight or obese

June 12, 2017
Globally, more than 2 billion children and adults suffer from health problems related to being overweight or obese, and an increasing percentage of people die from these health conditions, according to a new study.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.