Depression can manifest in many ways. It may deplete your energy levels, make you irritable, or alter your appetite. For some people, depression suppresses hunger. But for others, persistent gloominess can lead to overeating. It’s also possible for an eating disorder to develop first and later lead to depression. Learn more about the connection between depression and overeating, the health risks involved, and how to get the treatment you need.
Binge eating disorder (BED) is characterized by episodes of excessive eating. In the United States, about 3.5 percent of women and 2 percent of men struggle with binge eating. Symptoms of BED include:
People with depression seek different ways of shaking those unpleasant feelings of sadness and despair. Eating is an easy way to boost your mood because comfort food activates the reward centers of the brain. This prompts you to eat more of the pleasurable food, even if you’re not hungry.
This chain of events may happen to anyone, but it can lead to binge eating when a few bites aren’t enough to suppress negative feelings. Without effective depression treatment, episodes of overeating can happen again and again.
The power of food addiction can lead to compulsive eating even if you don’t have depression. Then, the eating disorder can cause depression to develop because you no longer feel in control. You may also feel guilty, regretful, or disgusted with yourself after eating too much at once. These feelings—along with emotional detachment and numbness—are the definition of depressive overeating.
Overeating comfort food rather than maintaining a healthy diet only adds fuel to the fire. Animal studies have shown that high saturated fat and sugar intake reduces brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). Decreased BDNF may be a factor in developing depression, along with dementia and type 2 diabetes.
A high-sugar diet also mutes your brain’s ability to tell the body when it’s satisfied. If you don’t know when you’re full, you’re more likely to continue eating far more than your body needs.
In addition to potentially causing depression, binge eating can lead to these health problems:
When someone with depression binge eats, it’s hard to tell if one condition caused the other or if they’re unrelated. The good news is treatment is available for both conditions. If depression came first, receiving treatment for this mental health condition may help you stop overeating. Here are your options:
If you’re interested in trying Deep TMS to treat depression, BrainsWay has the resources you need. BrainsWay is a global leader in advanced, non-invasive neurostimulation treatments for mental health disorders. It’s the first and only TMS company to obtain three FDA-cleared indications backed by pivotal studies demonstrating clinically proven efficacy. BrainsWay’s ultimate goal is to boldly advance neuroscience to improve health and transform lives!