Losing weight will cure depression (NOT!).

J C writes:

In 2005, I was attending college as a sophomore. I had passed my freshman first semester fine, and struggled through my second semester, landing myself on academic suspension. If I didn’t make a 2.0 average, I would have to leave. My problem was that I was becoming immobilized by depression and anxiety. I couldn’t get out of bed in the morning, and I couldn’t bring myself to step into my classrooms every day. I was becoming more and more hopeless and sliding further behind in my classwork. My mother finally made me go to the local mental health center to talk to someone. I started going to see a psychiatrist, who prescribed me medicine that seemed to make things worse. I started seeing things and really feeling like I was cracking up. I was desperate for help, so I went back to the place and asked for someone to talk to, not just someone to give me pills. I met with a new doctor. I tearfully told him the whole story, and he listened in silence. I was so afraid of failing out of college, and I needed someone to help me. At the end of my story he said, simply, “What are you doing about your weight?”
“Nothing..” I said.
“Nothing? No weight watchers or anything?”
He said that he thought that if I lost weight (at the time I was probably ~230 lbs, 5’2″) that my depression would go away. And he said that I could do that by “eating more things like lettuce and carrots, and less things like cookies and cakes.” I left the office completely humiliated and infinitely worse off that I was going in. I left school very shortly thereafter, just before they were going to kick me out. I now am in massive debt (for a 23 year old) from the mental health center bills and the year wasted at college.

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  1. I did two and a half years before the same thing happened to me. Luckily it was everyone but my doctor who had the miracle cure for depression.

    Going for help is hard, and the fact that someone would be dismissed like that… It makes me bloody angry.

  2. Meems

     /  August 20, 2009

    Just reading this makes me incredibly upset. I hope you’ve found a therapist who is actually working with you, rather than making judgments.

    Did you make a complaint to your college mental health center? I’d consider that negligent care. Frankly, so is medicating without ongoing therapy, in my opinion.

    (And did this idiot realize that weight gain is often a symptom of depression? You don’t treat the problem by trying to fix the symptoms!)

  3. Melissa

     /  August 20, 2009

    I’m just speechless!
    I think there must be better doctors out there who understand depression alot better than this!
    I’m not a professional but I know that stigmatization about weight is one way to make depression worse, not better.

  4. Charlotte

     /  August 20, 2009

    This is so upsetting to me! Earlier this year I went into counseling and was diagnosed with clinical depression, and my therapist couldn’t have been more kind and understanding. The person you went to was just lazy.

    For the record, when my depression is really bad, I lose weight. That weight loss definitely hasn’t cured my depression!

  5. I’d see if you can negotiate the health center charges down by pointing out that you were given substandard care.

  6. Mina

     /  August 21, 2009

    I am so sorry you had to go through this. My best friend was vibrant and the life of the party at 350 pounds. She had gastric bypass. It’s 10 years later now and she’s a size 12 and severely depressed. Losing weight doesn’t solve depression.

  7. J

     /  August 21, 2009

    This was me. I’m no longer depressed though I suffer through some periods of anxiety. I think the pressure of school and being away from home for the first time is what drove up my symptoms then. I want to go back to school, but money is a problem. I had a full tuition scholarship at the time and no longer am eligible for it since I had to leave school. Life is much better now at least.


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