Mental Illness and weight issues often go hand in hand. Some people gain unwanted weight during the intense phase of mental trouble while others may lose it to an unhealthy degree. In general, multiple symptoms show up in this period such as lack of energy, appetite disturbances, and low motivation levels.

Unintentional weight loss is often assumed to be a sign of physical illness, but studies show that people with serious mental illness such as depression, bipolar disorders, and schizophrenia may also end up losing weight at a rapid pace. There are certain other risk factors as well, but weight trouble is the most pressing issue of all. Weight loss and hazy mind is a combo that carries extreme damage for physique of the patient. It makes a person more prone to allergens and infections in the environment. Now the question is, what is the connection between mental illness and weight loss? Is there a biological reason why mental illness leads to drastic weight fall?

Below, we explain how weight loss links with mental issues:

Activated stress response

When a person is anxious or depressed, their body secretes stress hormones into the bloodstream. These hormones then travel to particular spots in the body where they trigger psychological, physiological and emotional changes that enhance the body’s ability to deal with threats. This process is called, “emergency response”, or “fight and flight response“. As the name suggests, a person struggles to deal with the situation, or they run away from it.

Stress hormones act as stimulants to elevate metabolism and fuel consumption of the body. Increased metabolism means that energy resources of the body are consumed quickly causing the fuel to burn faster. This abrupt fuel burning means that the body will need more food to make fuel. And when the eating portions are not sufficient to offset the fuel consumption, the body automatically starts losing weight.


Overly apprehensive behavior causes the stress response to become hyperstimulated. It can then lead to stomach and digestive problems. Some common gastrointestinal discomforts include:

  • Heartburn
  • Diarhhea
  • Stomach pain
  • Constipation

Naturally, a person who is facing digestive issues tends to eat less. The body finds a reduction in available energy resources, and it makes use of the fat stores for fuel. As the body starts depleting the fat stores, it starts to lose weight.

Modification in the process of nutrient absorption

When issues like anxiety, schizophrenia, and stress overpower the human brain, the body starts processing food differently. It affects the vagus nerve which creates an impact on how the body digests, absorbs and metabolizes the food. Again, this disruption results in unwanted stomach inflammation.

Amplified nervous energy

Mental issues make a person overly sensitive to their surroundings. They become nervous and agitated. This increase in nervous energy makes it difficult to rest and relax. Hence a person is always on his/her toes. This constant movement means that the body requires more energy and more fuel. Once more, the body may be consuming more energy than the fuel supply causing weight loss.

No desire to eat

A person in the state of a mental burden sometimes feels out of this world. They are unable to think about things that normal person wonder about. Lost in their perplexions, they stop performing usual daily tasks such as eating, cleaning and talking with others. They may not feel hungry, or as braintest reviews reveal, they might even forget eating altogether. Consequently, they face rapid weight loss.

Sleep disruption and cortisol production

You might be surprised to know that a patient suffering from mental disorders may not sleep for days. If the case is dire, they might not know that they haven’t slept for a long time. While those who are suffering from stress, they are aware that they haven’t slept, but still they find it difficult to sleep. This lack of sleep and sometimes, poor quality sleep leads them to feel fatigued and sluggish. Moreover, these disruptions lead to increased production of cortisol. And higher levels of cortisol cause the body to work harder, increasing fuel consumption.

Losing weight is beneficial for overall physical well being, but going beneath normal levels is harmful. The body becomes susceptible to diseases of all kinds as the immune system becomes weak. Patients with serious mental illness may not even realize that their body has started to lose weight, it is the responsibility of the family and caretakers to focus on this aspect and take necessary action to cater this problem. They need to make immediate alterations in eating habits of the patient.

There are certain interventions introduced to make behavioral changes among patients. These include rehabilitation centers, medications and exercise groups. Although it takes a while to ensure adaptability to these programs, they yield optimistic outcomes making them more compelling. Such programs also show the patients a way out of all their troubles since the adrenaline goes high and the chances are that they will escape from shackles of mental burdens. Indeed, it is a long shot and asks for strong will-power, but these interventions can actually turn around a new leaf for many people.

The bottom line is, there is a strong connection between mental problems and weight loss. Even though dropping a pound or two isn’t a serious concern but if you find yourself losing weight beyond normal levels, talk to your doctor or nutritionist right away. Medical history shows how mentally ill patients can make successful and sustained changes through appropriate measures. All you need is an expert medical consultant who shall guide you through every step of the way back to good health.