Stress and Weight: What is the Connection?
The connection between stress and weight has been studied for years, because the affect that stress can have one a person's weight is so varied. From hormonal changes to psychological issues, stress can be connected to a variety of issues related to weight.
Although they can be divided further, there are two main ways stress affects weight:
- Stress weight gain - Our bodies release three hormones when we encounter stress: adrenalin, corticotrophin releasing hormone (CRH), and cortisol. At first, adrenalin and CRH suppress appetite, but these effects are fleeting. Cortisol on the other hand, hangs around much longer and causes an appetite increase. It also is believed to promote the storage of visceral fat in the midsection, which can be difficult to lose.
- Stress weight loss - After our "fight or flight" mechanism wears off, appetite receptors may be slow to stabilize, resulting in a loss of appetite during stressful situations. Extended, long-term stress can lead to significant (and unhealthy) weight loss when not properly addressed.
Regardless of whether stress causes weight gain or weight loss for you, it is important to address the source of your anxiety and seek proper treatment. Not only can stress affect you physically, but the mental ramifications of stress can be even more disturbing.