Low body weight linked to high depression levels

“Among depressed patients, a low body-mass index (BMI) is associated with reduced appetite and increased pessimistic thoughts” French scientists have found.

Although changes in appetite and weight are common symptoms of depressive illness, no previous studies have examined whether body weight was related to specific depressive symptoms.

The researchers assessed symptoms in 1,694 adult patients who had been diagnosed with depression. Self-reported body weight was categorized under four headings: underweight, normal weight, overweight, and very overweight.

The researchers found that levels of depression did not differ significantly across the four weight categories.

In underweight women, however, levels of depression were significantly higher than those of the other BMI categories. These women, therefore, had the lowest appetite levels and most pessimistic thoughts. They also found that increasing BMI was significantly related to a linear increase in appetite and decrease in pessimistic thoughts.

Writing in the journal European Psychiatry, the researchers conclude that clinicians should take into account body weight when assessing depressive symptoms in their patients.


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