Firstly, if you are looking into personal development, personality type, or psychological state management, you need to take a look at our free MP3 designed to 'tune' your brainwaves. To get it, click here.It is a commonly known fact that a common side effect of depression is overeating. The stereotypical girl with a broken heart, drowning her sorrows in a carton of ice cream has been fodder for movies and television shows alike. However, there may be inherent health risks associated with “eating our feelings” when we have a broken heart.
A recent study conducted out of the institute for Behavioral Medicine Research at The Ohio State University, has linked depression, metabolism of high-fat, high calorie food, and troubled marriages. Jan Kiecolt-Glaser, a professor of psychiatry and psychology and director of the Institute, announced the study’s findings with co-author Martha Belury, professor of human nutrition at Ohio State, during the New Horizons in Science briefings at ScienceWriters2014, an annual conference hosted by Ohio State. They discussed the research as part of their presentation "Metabolism: A new link between marital stress, depression and health."
The Beginning of The Study
The study evaluated 43 healthy couples, ages 24 to 61, who had been married for at least three years. Prior to the study, the participants completed a variety of written evaluations that included assessments of marital satisfaction, history of mood disorders, and depressive symptoms. During the two, full-day study, the couples were fed food designed to mimic traditional fast-food options high in calories and fat like a Burger King double whopper with cheese or a Big Mac and medium fries at McDonald’s. The meal, which consisted of eggs, turkey sausage, biscuits and gravy, totaled 930 calories with 60 grams of fat. Two hours later, the couples were asked to discuss high-conflict topics such as money, communication and in-laws. They were left alone to discuss the topics, but videotaped by the researchers. Investigators categorized their interactions by measure of psychological abuse, distress-maintaining conversations, hostility or withdrawal.
After the meals, participants’ energy expenditure (calories burned by converting food to energy) was tested for 20 minutes of every hour for the next seven hours by using equipment that measured inhaled and exhaled airflow of oxygen and carbon dioxide. Blood samples were also drawn several times after the meals to measure glucose, insulin, and triglycerides and compare them to baseline levels.
The results were remarkable. Individuals that had both a diagnosed mood disorder in addition to a more hostile marriage, burned an average of 31 fewer calories per hour, and had an average of 12 percent more insulin in their blood, than low-hostility participants in the first measurement taken after the meal. This level didn’t match other participants’ lower levels until two hours after eating. Also of note, the individuals who exhibited high-hostility and depression also exhibited a significant peak in their triglycerides four hours after eating. This measurement exceeded all others’ levels.
Both the increased levels of insulin and high level of triglycerides are significant, as insulin is known to contribute to the storage of fat and high levels of triglycerides are considered a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. “Insulin stimulates food intake and the accumulation of fat tissue in the abdomen, and adding that on top of the lower energy expenditure creates a higher likelihood for obesity,” Belury said. “But it doesn’t stop there: Elevated triglycerides lead to heart disease. Along with high insulin, elevated triglycerides indicate metabolism of sugars and fats is impaired. These are hallmarks of increased risk for heart disease and diabetes.”
After the single meal, those with a history of depression and marital discord burned 118 fewer calories, on average, for up to seven hours afterward, over their non-depressed, non-argumentative cohorts.
This accumulates to a potential weight gain of 12 pounds in a single year. Combined with the high triglycerides and decreased insulin production, the potential for Metabolic Syndrome (having three of the five risk factors for heart disease and diabetes) is enhanced. And this was only the result of a single meal. “Our results probably underestimate the health risks because the effects of only one meal were analyzed. Most people eat every four to five hours, and often dine with their spouses,” said Kiecolt-Glaser, also a professor of psychiatry and psychology. “Meals provide prime opportunities for ongoing disagreements in a troubled marriage, so there could be a longstanding pattern of metabolic damage stemming from hostility and depression.” Kiecolt-Glaser added, “These findings not only identify how chronic stressors can lead to obesity, but also point to how important it is to treat mood disorders. Interventions for mental health clearly could benefit physical health as well.”
So, if you’re depressed consider this: Perhaps the next time you’ve had a disagreement with your spouse and are heading to the refrigerator to drown your sorrows with a container of ice cream - It would be in your healthiest and best interest to nosh on some carrots or celery. Or better yet, go for a walk and clear your head instead.
Conclusion: Those with a history of marital discord and depression may tend to burn fewer calories after meals and may therefore gain weight more rapidly.
- Laura A. Wells Caldwell, E. (2014, October 20). Study Shows How Troubled Marriage, Depression History Promote Obesity. Retrieved November 25, 2014, from http://news.osu.edu/news/2014/10/20/study-shows-how-troubled-marriage-depression-history-promote-obesity/