Obesity creates mental illness

Obesity creates mental illness

Obesity: Exclusion favors mental illness
11.01.2015

Many obese people, who already suffer from being overweight, often find themselves exposed to prejudice and discrimination. According to a new study, this stigma can lead to depression, anxiety disorders and often even further weight gain.

Stigma can lead to further weight gain. Many people often experience prejudice, devaluation, social exclusion and discrimination because of their excessive weight (obesity). This social stigma and the associated psychological stress can lead to depression, anxiety disorders and often even further weight gain. This is the result of a new study by scientists from the University of Leipzig. The researchers at the Integrated Research and Treatment Center for Obesity Diseases (IFB) in Leipzig recently published their results in the journal "Obesity".

Decreased self-esteem a risk factor for mental suffering Claudia Sikorski analyzed 46 scientific studies that examined the connection between the stigmatization of severely overweight people with psychological stress and disorders. "Many risk factors for mental disorders are very pronounced in people with obesity," said study leader Sikorski. According to the expert, these risk factors are not something special for this group, "but people with obesity seem to have an increased frequency of these factors, also because of stigmatization". The reduced self-esteem described in the studies in particular is considered to be a major risk factor for psychological disorders such as depression and anxiety disorders.

Overweight people accept negative external image as self-image Dr. Sikorski developed a model of the processes that make obese patients more susceptible to mental illness. This is based on an explanatory approach developed by Columbia University on the effects of stigmatization in homosexual people. Those affected would have reduced self-esteem and a reduced ability to deal with problems (coping). There are also other risk factors such as negative self-awareness, increased loneliness and the lack of social support. In addition, according to Sikorski, morbidly overweight men and women take the negative image of others that shows through stigmatization as self-image. This is a major problem in the treatment of obesity, since those affected need a lot of confidence in their own abilities and strength, especially when it comes to weight loss.

Discrimination also by the state Past studies have shown that stigmatization and self-stigma contribute to poor eating habits and thus to maintain or worsen obesity. In addition to this vicious circle, there is often the experience of disadvantage and discrimination in social and professional life. Different organizations see it similarly. For example, the chairwoman of the association Gisela Enders of “Dicke e.V.” said in an interview years ago that the state assumes that slim people have an increased risk of illness and are therefore often not taken on board. In addition, according to them, prejudices and disadvantages also prevailed in the job centers and employment agencies. Job seekers would immediately be put in the "difficult to place" drawer. Enders demanded that body weight be included in the EU anti-discrimination guidelines.

In search of therapeutic approaches Dr. Sikorski is looking for therapeutic approaches on how to break the vicious circle of stigmatization due to obesity. “Our work is important for improved obesity therapy because we cannot trust that the social perception of people with obesity will improve in the foreseeable future. Therefore, we should show those affected how to deal with stigmatization. This should be an integral part of obesity therapy if possible, ”said the Leipzig scientist. In cooperation with the forsa opinion research institute, the team of Dr. Sikorski around 1,000 adults with obesity about their experiences with stigma and how to deal with it. This should help to better understand how stigmatization is experienced, how it has its negative effects and how those affected can deal with it. (ad)

Image: CFalk / pixelio.de

Author and source information



Video: Can Mental Illness Be Cured?