When Your Brain and Your Stomach Don’t Get Along

The Connection Between Depression and Appetite

The Connection Between Depression and AppetiteHave you been depressed for a while? Have you noticed changes in your appetite and eating habits? Have you lost weight in the last month without even trying? Have you found yourself eating food despite not being hungry? If you have, you are not alone.

Food and depression share an interesting relationship. One of the questions that any mental health professional will ask when assessing for depression is: How is your appetite? The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, the reference book that professionals use to diagnosis mental health issues like depression, lists one of the symptoms of depression as weight loss of 5% of total body weight in a month without trying. Some find their appetite and weight reduced, while others gain weight as their hunger is never satisfied. How does this happen? Why does this happen? What can you do to resolve this?

Too often, people take a passive approach to issues of diet and appetite in regards to depression. They figure that these symptoms will improve when depression does. In reality, if you do not receive the proper nutrition, your depression will not improve. Your body and your mind work together in a seamless unit. One cannot recover if the other is being starved.

Under Eating in Depression

Many people experience diminished appetite and weight loss during periods of depression. On some level, this is a logical outcome. During a depressive episode, people report feeling lack of motivation, lack of energy and lack of ability to follow through on goal-directed behaviors. With this being the case, going to the grocery store, buying fresh, healthy ingredients and standing over the stove to cook a healthy meal is unlikely. Someone with depression may struggle to complete this once a week, let alone three times per day.


Instead, someone with depression will isolate and stay motionless on the couch or in bed. They will look for the little food that they have which is readily available and requires no preparation. Without food to provide energy, the person with depression will continue feeling lack of energy and motivation. The cycle will continue without end.

Next page: overeating and improving your diet.

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