CMHA’s 65th Annual Mental Health Week

 Woman, Fat, Sad image SM

CMHA (Canadian Mental Health Awareness) introduced Mental Health Week in 1951 to raise awareness of mental illness in Canada. Today, Mental Health Week offers practical ways to maintain and improve mental health, across many diseases and disorders.

 The connection between obesity and mental health is a strong one, with obesity in some cases responsible for triggering depression, eating disorders, a distorted body image, and low self-esteem.

 Research shows that ‘obese’ people have been found to have higher rates of depression than the general public, with those people classified as ‘very obese’ (BMI over 35) having the highest level of clinical depression.

 Although women are slightly more at risk for having an unhealthy BMI than men, they are much more vulnerable to the obesity-depression cycle. In one study, obesity in women was associated with a 37 percent increase in major depression.

 “Depression was more often seen in the obese,” Professor Marianne Sullivan and her team from Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Sweden wrote in a journal article. They reported that the depression scores for obese people were as bad as, or worse than, those for patients with chronic pain.

 Depression is one of the well-recognized co-morbidities associated with being overweight or obese. Many research studies have shown significant benefit on the clinical manifestation of depression after bariatric surgery.  Studies have shown that up to 80% of patients who have had Lap Band or Gastric Sleeve surgery will show significant improvement in depression, as measured with the Beck Depression Index.

 The CMHA’s annual Mental Health Week focuses on stopping the discrimination and the stigma that often go hand-in-hand with mental illness, similar to the discrimination and stigma surrounding obesity. By supporting all levels of health surrounding obesity, patients have the best opportunity for a positive outcome when choosing a path to deal with their own obesity.

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