A traumatic event, long-standing anxiety… Several psychological causes can promote weight gain. What are the signs of psychological weight gain? What solutions to fix it?
Does anxiety or stress make you fat?
“Ianxiety, stress, annoyance… have effects on weight. Some people can lose weight when others gain it“, assures Karen Demange, a psychologist specializing in eating disorders. Secretion of the stress hormone, comfort food after a stressful event…. Several causes can lead to psychological weight gain.
What are the possible causes of psychological weight gain?
“We eat something we like to produce endorphins and thus set up a reward circuit”
Several mechanisms can lead to psychological weight gain:
► Too much cortisol production. “When we are anxious, we produce cortisol, the stress hormone. Faced with a high level of cortisol, the body builds fat reserves to meet these demands. This causes weight gain.
► Food as an anti-depressant. Faced with installed anxiety, many people can resort to diet as an anti-depressant“we are looking for well-being we eat something we like to produce endorphins and thus set up a reward circuit“.
► A traumatic event. The stress caused by a traumatic event can lead to very rapid weight gain. “We are on the verge of psycho-traumatic stress”.
In the case of too high a cortisol level, the weight gain does not come from a change in diet or a lack of physical activity but froma hormonal imbalance. In acute stress, weight gain often occurs rapidly, following a traumatic event. Finally, psychological weight gain can be recognized if food becomes a way to calm your emotions in case of anxiety diffuse or when you feel a climate of insecurity and that there is not necessarily a particular event. In this case, food intake increases gradually without the person realizing it.
Who to consult in case of psychological weight gain?
Better to consult a psychologist specializing in eating disorders. “During the first interviews, we try to make a diagnosis by taking note of the parasitic variables such as a hormonal disorder or taking a treatment that would promote appetite and fat storage. Then, we work on the traumatic event in case of acute stress or we try to understand the causes in case of anxious background“, explains the psychologist.
“The problem, it’s not having a blanket food answer but rather the quality and quantity of food and the fact that it is the only solution to stress.” The term eating disorder is made up of three words:
► Trouble: “it means that there is a psychological cause in our history and it is important to know what it is“, recalls our interlocutor.
► Behavior: “this means that we use food as a behavior that allows us to calm down, to relieve ourselves. We must therefore understand why we have implemented this behavior“, she continues.
► Food: “you have to work around food by trying to promote wiser food choices“, she concludes.
Thanks to Karen Demange, psychologist specializing in eating disorders.