New studies show that stress can lead to teen obesity. Stress can cause a variety of health issues including high blood pressure, insomnia and according to new research, even depression. Can stress really cause teen obesity?
Study Regarding Stress and Teen Obesity. In a study by Penn State University as discussed on PsychCentral, it was discovered that depression in teens increased cortisol levels in the body.
Cortisol is a hormone that is produced when we encounter stress. Although cortisol serves its purpose in the body, when experienced over long periods of time, this hormone can lead to stored belly fat.
Researchers already knew that depression and cortisol were related to obesity in adults. Now they are finding the correlation with teens, but only in girls. Researchers believe it has to do with the hormone estrogen and the behavior of eating when stressed.
How Can Depression Increase a Stress Hormone and Cause Teen Obesity? The Penn State University study showed that teens who were depressed had increased cortisol levels. Cortisol hormones are activated by stress. So does depression cause stress? Or could stress bring on depression?
According to Dr. Daniel K. Hall-Flavin, a psychiatrist with the Mayo Clinic, stress can actually increase the risk of depression. This can happen if stressors are present over a period of time and the person doesn’t have effective coping skills to deal with extended stress.
A study by the University of Western Ontario reported in ScienceDaily, showed a connection between stress, anxiety and depression. Stress or anxiety can lead to depression because of connecting pathways in the brain.
Stress, Depression and Obesity. Stress is hard enough to deal with as an adult. Teens have not necessarily learned enough coping skills to deal with stressful situations, especially if they occur simultaneously or if they experience several stressors over time.
According to the study by University of Western Ontario, if stress is not addressed, it could lead to depression. In the Penn State University study it was noted that girls were more like to eat when depressed. An increase in food with a decrease in activity from depression could lead to weight gain and potentially to obesity. Plus, increased cortisol levels can lead to stored belly fat.
It is important to be aware of any signs of stress in your teen and help them to develop successful coping skills. If you suspect your teen is not dealing with stress well or you think your teen may suffer from depression, speak with your family doctor for timely treatment options. Depression and stress can cause more health issues than just teen obesity.
THIS ARTICLE IS FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND SHOULD NOT REPLACE THE ADVICE OF A PHYSICIAN.
SOURCES AND FURTHER READING:
Rick Nauert PhD; Teen Stress Fuels Depression, then Obesity; PsychCentral
Daniel K. Hall-Flavin, M.D.; Can Chronic Stress Cause Depression?; Mayo Clinic
Science News; Biological Link between Stress, Anxiety and Depression Identified; ScienceDaily