Health and weight

Low moods, depression and weight

Most of the young people we talked to, told us that being seriously overweight had made them feel bad about themselves. People told us that they had been bullied because of their weight and many had felt ashamed of themselves or worthless at times. Some of the young people found ways of coping with bullying but most felt rejected and isolated.
Research has shown that obesity and depression often go together but it’s not easy to say for certain which happens first. Apart from getting bullied at school, some young people told us that their depression was triggered by things going wrong at home. Parents splitting up or having problems such as alcohol-dependency, were the kinds of things that had made them unhappy.
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Several people told us they became so depressed that they experimented with cutting/self-harming. One or two had considered suicide as a way out of their problems. Several young people had been so depressed that they had to be treated in hospital to make sure they didn’t try to harm themselves.
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It’s extremely important to be able to get help if you’re feeling depressed but several young people found it hard to talk about their feelings. They said they had tried to hide their true feelings behind a mask of ‘fake happiness’ so their families didn’t realise how unhappy they were. Others had seen counsellors for depression and low moods and found counselling had worked for them.
The parents we talked to said it hurt them to see their children becoming lonely and depressed.
Weight management and support programmes such as MEND and SHINE were recommended by several young people as well as parents. For links to more information about these programmes, visit our health & weight resources section. For more information about depression, visit our young people's experiences of depression and low mood section.

Last reviewed July 2017.

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