Most people know that obesity has significant physical side effects. However, they forget to really discuss the psychological effects as well. The media often portrays the obese as being lazy, having no willpower, overindulging in food, not being interested in exercise and generally bleeding the health care system dry. Hearing this, known as body shaming, has tremendous consequences for someone’s psychological health. This is why anyone who opts for bariatric procedures will usually also be psychologically assessed. Let’s explore in greater details.
People who are obese often live in social isolation, which means they withdraw from society. They spend all their time at home, don’t communicate with family or friends, avoid interaction and more. This, in turn, can lead to increased stress, loneliness, anxiety, aggression, memory impairment, fear, depression and more.
The obese, and particularly the obese children, have an increased risk of having behavioral problems. This includes delinquency and aggression. Scientists are trying to uncover whether the obesity caused the behavior, or whether the behavior caused the obesity.
Most people with obesity have very poor self-perception. This is how they see themselves as a person. Usually, this means they also think others perceive them poorly.
Poor self-image almost always goes hand in hand with low self-esteem. They often don’t believe they are capable of anything good. They doubt themselves, are ashamed and often despair. They criticize themselves, respond negatively to criticism from others, are afraid to make a mistake, always try to please others and more.
Unsurprisingly, there is a very clear link between obesity and depression. Interestingly, there is also a link between depression and anxiety (so both cause the other). People who have depression are at increased risk of suicide and self-harm, in the worst cases. They also develop even poorer self-image and self-esteem.
Victimization and Bullying
The world is a cruel place and because the media body shames the obese so much, people find it all too easy, almost normal, to victimize and bully people who are obese. Being the victim of this, however, leads to increased weight gain. Additionally, it clearly affects someone’s mental health.
One of the most serious psychological issues associated with obesity is that it can lead to suicide. This is often as a direct result of the depression many develop. However, there are other factors that contribute to an increased chance of suicide. These include:
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Loss of ability to perform otherwise normal activities
- Social isolation
- Bullying and victimization
- Physical illness caused by obesity
People who are obese have a lot of stigmas associated with them, and this is terrible for their mental health. The stigmas cause them to see themselves in a negative light, but it also causes others to see them as such. This is incredibly traumatic and difficult to deal with and it often spirals in an increasingly negative situation. As a society, we need to build our understanding of people who are obese.