13/12/2010 10:15 GMT | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Can't Lose Weight? Maybe You're Depressed

women who are depressed don't exercise Depressed women do less exercise, say experts. Photo: Flickr, lululemon athletica

Anyone who's ever tried to lose weight knows it's never as easy as you think. But struggling to lose those last few pounds is one thing. When you can't shift the first few pounds, however, you may need to work on your mood as well as your weight.

That's the thinking behind a study published in the journal General Hospital Psychiatry, in which researchers from Seattle suggest there's a link between not being able to lose weight and undiagnosed depression. Not just that, but they also found overweight people have a significantly higher risk of having depression than those of normal weight.

The link between depression and weight loss (or, rather, lack of weight loss) is exercise. According to the researchers, women who are depressed do less exercise. What they couldn't tell, however, was that whether being overweight was causing the depression or vice versa.

The experts followed 203 obese women, all of whom had symptoms of depression, for a period of 12 months and divided them into two groups - one that focused on just losing weight, the other on losing weight as well as having treatment for depression. After six months, 38 of their body weight, compared with 21% of the women whose depression was the same as when they started the programme.

The problem with the majority of weight loss programmes, the researchers claim, is that they don't take mood into consideration. But if more people were screened for depression and treated accordingly, more might succeed in losing weight.

When you put it like that, it does make sense. But perhaps it's the idea of having to weight in the first place that gets most people down. What do you think?

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