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Mental Health Problems


How Obesity Can Weigh on Your Mind

Posted Friday 28 December 2018 09:46 by Tim Deakin in Weight loss

obesity and mental health

We’re often warned about the physical impact of obesity, but what about the emotional toll it can take?

Obesity continues to be a huge issue for UK healthcare. In fact, 62% of adults in the UK are overweight or obese.[1] This is a serious concern, as obesity be a factor in many serious health concerns like type 2 diabetes, heart disease and even cancer.

However, the consequences of living with obesity can also be emotional as well as physical. We’re here to explore the ways obesity and mental wellbeing can interact.

Is obesity a mental health issue?

It’s important to establish that there is no direct causal link between mental health and obesity. The reason this is important to state is that there is often a stigma attached to overweight people that they are ‘slower’ or less intelligent than thinner people. This caricature holds no basis in truth.

Instead, we’re going to explore how mental health and obesity can impact each other in ways shown by research and statistics. Can mental health conditions make obesity more likely, and can being obese increase your chances of experiencing mental health concerns?

Eating disorders

Mental health can impact our weight at both ends of the spectrum, as evidenced by conditions like anorexia. Over the last four decades, the number of eating disorders has escalated hugely both in the UK and worldwide. In fact, it is estimated that there are over 1.6 million people struggling with an eating disorder in the UK.[2]

On the surface, eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia represent the opposite problem to obesity; causing sufferers to become extremely underweight rather than overweight. However, they do highlight a key connection between dietary habits and mental health.

This connection also presents itself in habits like binge eating, which is often a key cause of obesity. Binge eating compels people to consume huge quantities of food in a short period of time. Unlike other conditions like bulimia, sufferers rarely purge themselves afterwards. However, feelings of shame, guilt and even depression are common.

Obesity as a symptom: a vicious cycle

hamburger and chipsAlthough we cannot assume that just because someone is obese that they must be living with mental health concerns, obesity can be a symptom of psychological factors. For example, stress is one of the most common mental health concerns in the UK. According to the Mental Health Foundation’s 2018 report, 74% of people reported feeling so stressed in the last year that they were unable to cope. What’s more, 46% reported that they ate too much or ate unhealthily due to stress.[3]

Conditions like anxiety, stress and depression can lead to the use of food as a comfort or coping mechanism. They can also have a detrimental effect on motivation when it comes to activities like exercise and cooking healthy meals. As such, your likelihood of becoming obese rises with the appearance of these conditions. This can then create a vicious cycle, as being obese can reduce your motivation even further and make you feel more anxious or depressed.

If you’re struggling to lose weight, start the new year off right with safe and effective weight loss medication from Express Pharmacy. Both Xenical and Mysimba can help support you on your weight loss journey and meet your goals in a healthy way. And for further support, contact our team today. Call us on 0208 123 07 03 or use our online Live Chat service.


What More Can We Do for Mental Health?

Posted Wednesday 18 April 2018 10:41 by Tim Deakin in Weight loss

Research shows that there is still a long way to go when it comes to mental health awareness and support...

A recent survey by ADP UK has found that UK employers are showing a lack of interest in their employees’ mental wellbeing despite the fact that many employees are suffering from significant mental health concerns.

The study, which assessed 1,300 workers, revealed that almost a third of British workers (31%) feel that their employer has little to no interest in their mental health. Despite this, a fifth (20%) of employees feel stressed out on a daily basis, and a third (33%) are even considering seeking new employment because the pressure is so bad.

Managing Director of ADP UK, Jeff Phipps, says:

“A certain level of stress is natural, even healthy, in the workplace, but it’s important that it doesn’t get out of hand. Employees who endure consistently high levels of stress are in danger of suffering from anxiety and even burnout. This can lead to more serious mental health issues.”

It seems mental health is worst among younger employees, as 22% of workers under 35 say they experience stress every day. 42% say it’s so bad they are considering a different job.

In a separate survey exploring mental health, one in six UK adults said they had experienced some kind of neurotic health problem in the last seven days, with anxiety and depression being the most common disorders. What’s more, a recent Psychiatric Morbidity Survey reveals that there are around 3 million people in the UK living with anxiety, and a further 3 million living with depression.

Not only are these concerns common, they are also serious. A study by the World Health Organisation (WHO) compared the effects of depression to those of physical conditions like arthritis, asthma, angina and diabetes. They concluded that the effect of depression on a person’s ability to function was up to 50% more serious than those of all four physical conditions combined.

What more can we do?

Understanding mental health conditions is the first step to dealing with them effectively. ADP UK suggest that employers take the time to research the symptoms and signs of conditions like anxiety and depression in order to put the necessary initiatives in place. Jeff Phipps states that this can be both a moral course of action and a smart business investment.

“Stress and mental health issues are one of the main causes of employee absence and staff turnover, which means supporting employees isn’t just the right thing to do — it’s also a worthwhile investment […]

“Employee assistance programmes and occupational health services are also imperative in creating a safe location where employees can go in confidence If they’re facing an issue.”

Mental health can have physical consequences

Mental health conditions like anxiety and depression can be difficult to spot because, often, the effects cannot be seen. However, both depression and anxiety can lead to physical symptoms.

Mental health disorders like depression often result in sufferers feeling constantly tired, as sleep quality can become poor. This may lead sufferers to take comfort in unhealthy habits like overeating, smoking and a lack of physical exercise. Sometimes anxiety and depression also lead to low sex drive and, in men, conditions like erectile dysfunction become more common. This can lead to a vicious cycle in which the mental symptoms worsen due to growing concern over physical symptoms.

For healthcare information, treatment and support about a range of health conditions, including smoking, weight gain and erectile dysfunction, contact Express Pharmacy today. Call our team on 0208 123 07 03 or use our discreet Live Chat service.


January 15th Is Blue Monday, a Time When Mental Health Concerns Can Hit Hardest

Posted Friday 12 January 2018 13:35 by Tim Deakin in Express Pharmacy

Depression is a widespread condition throughout the UK which can affect you both emotionally and physically

This year in the UK, January 15th has acquired the title of ‘Blue Monday’, a title generally awarded to the third Monday in January.

Blue Monday refers to the day of the year when we are supposed to feel at our most down. Several factors are said to contribute to this conclusion, including the cold, dark weather, low finances following Christmas, general post-Christmas blues, failing New Year’s resolutions and generally low motivation.

So at this glum time of year, it’s important to reflect on the impact that conditions such as depression can have on our wellbeing — both physical and emotional. Understanding the condition can help you identify potential symptoms and seek the help and support you need.

What is depression?

Although we’re all set to feel a bit down on Blue Monday, depression is much more than simply feeling unhappy for a few days. The condition involves feeling persistently sad, negative and fatigued for weeks or months at a time.

Depression is a real health concern with real symptoms. It affects around 10% of people at some point in their lives, and research has even shown that around 4% of children in the UK aged 5 to 16 present symptoms of anxiety or depression.

Treatment for depression usually involves a combination of lifestyle changes, therapies and medications such as anti-depressants. These lifestyle changes can involve incorporating factors like exercise or self-care measures into your daily routine. The level of treatment prescribed is generally based on whether the depression is deemed mild, moderate or severe.

Depression can lead to a variety of symptoms, including persistently feeling low, experiencing stress or anxiety, or even feeling suicidal. The impact of depression on your mental health can also have an effect on your body.

Despite being a mental health condition, depression can lead to physical symptoms

The physical symptoms of depression most commonly involve feeling constantly tired, paired with poor sleep health. This can lead to sufferers taking refuge in unhealthy ‘comfort’ foods or poor health habits like smoking, and this lack of energy and physical activity can also lead to weight gain. However, for some people, depression can create a loss of appetite.

What’s more, depression has also been found to lead to aches and pains (often as a result of poor diet and exercise due to low energy) and a lack of a sex drive. In men, depression can lead to sexual health concerns such as erectile dysfunction.

The physical impact of depression can create a vicious cycle

When an individual suffers from depression and starts to experience physical symptoms as a result of the condition, it can create a vicious cycle by adding more fuel to the fire of their negative thoughts and feelings. Putting on weight or falling back on habits like smoking can reduce motivation even further and make those experiencing depression think that their feelings will only get worse rather than better.

Similarly, sexual health symptoms of depression can create increased stress and anxiety around the act of sexual intercourse, increasing the likelihood that conditions like erectile dysfunction will persist or even worsen.

If you think you might be experiencing depression, it’s hugely important to seek help and support in order to get to the root of the problem. Tackling any physical symptoms can also help to reduce the intensity of negative feelings. Effective medication for conditions like erectile dysfunction, excess weight and smoking are all available from Express Pharmacy.

Express Pharmacy can provide discreet advice and medication for a variety of health concerns. If you’re living with a condition we can help you with, don’t hesitate to get in touch today. Call Express Pharmacy on 0208 123 07 03 or use our online Live Chat service.


It’s World Vegan Day! But Is It Really Good for Your Health to Cut Out All Meat and Dairy?

Posted Wednesday 01 November 2017 11:22 by Tim Deakin in Weight loss

Despite a surge in popularity, vegans still only make up less than one per cent of the UK population. So what are the benefits of a vegan diet, and should you jump on the bandwagon?

World Vegan Day has taken place at the beginning of every November since 1994, and has continued to grow in both publicity and popularity. The awareness day aims to highlight the health and lifestyle benefits of a vegan diet, which takes vegetarianism one step further by cutting out any produce that comes from an animal, including things like dairy.

But what exactly are these benefits of a vegan diet, and could going vegan actually increase your overall health? In honour of World Vegan Day, we’ve done some digging and found out exactly how going vegan could be good for you.

The benefits of a vegan diet include:

Weight loss

One look at any of the material on World Vegan Day will tell you that a major benefit of a vegan diet is weight loss among those who previously considered to be obese or overweight. Weight loss can come as a direct result of veganism and vegetarianism because on average, these diets tend to be lower in total fat, particularly saturated fat. Animal products are actually the main source of saturated fat in our diets, so veganism really lowers these rates.

Of course, medication can also help boost the success of a healthy weight loss regime.

Increased physical fitness levels

Similarly, an increase in physical fitness is also one of the benefits of a vegan diet, as many athletes follow the lifestyle in order to boost their performance. Plant-based diets, on the whole, have been shown to provide more energy and accelerate recovery – although, care does have to be taken in finding suitable protein sources on a vegan diet.

Fewer migraines

Nobody likes migraines, but many of us assume that they’re an unavoidable part of life. In many cases, however, migraine triggers can be related to food consumption. Studies have shown that low fat, plant-based diets can be beneficial to sufferers, as migraines are often directly linked to foods such as chocolate, cheese and alcohol.

If you are suffering from migraines, consulting your pharmacist could be a helpful first port of call. To find out more about some of the prescription medications available for chronic migraines, take a look at our treatments.

Stress reduction

As ambassadors of World Vegan Day will tell you, some of the benefits of a vegan diet are emotional as well as physical. Studies have found that veganism can actually help reduce feelings of stress and anxiety, as healthy plant-based ingredients are often mood-boosting and provide energy. Stress can have both mental and physical implications on your health, so a change of diet could be the best decision you’ll make this World Vegan Day.

Better skin

A study on the population of Kitavan Islanders in Papua New Guinea found that not a single one of them suffered from acne, and the findings deemed this to be due to their diet which was (you guessed it) full of plant-based, unprocessed foods.

Foods with a high glycaemic load, and groups like dairy products, have been shown to trigger acne in some cases, so one of the benefits of a vegan diet could potentially be a clear, glowing complexion.

Of course, you don’t need to switch to strict veganism to see health benefits through your diet. Simple dietary changes can make all the differences to your overall health. But before you make any significant changes to the food you consume, it is always worth consulting a healthcare professional to ensure that changes will not have an adverse effect. While veganism is thought to be a healthy way of life, this requires a close attention to finding balance and variety in the food one ingests.

Express Pharmacy can provide you with NHS approved healthcare guidance from the comfort of your own home. Simply give us a call on 0208 123 0703 or use our discreet Live Chat service.


The Effects of Weight Gain Are More Than Skin Deep

Posted Wednesday 01 February 2017 09:24 by Tim Deakin in Weight loss

It may be the end of a long January. But if you have been paying attention to your diet and exercise regime for the last month, there are plenty of reasons for you to keep up the good work. And none of them have anything to do with preparing for a beach body.

There are many factors that can contribute to weight gain. Whether it’s poor diet or just a sedentary lifestyle, millions of people in the UK now eat a little bit too much that’s not good for them and exercise a little too infrequently to keep the weight off.

Weight gain has become a huge issue nationally and, indeed, globally. According to research by the World Health Organisation, ‘At least one in three of the world's adult population is now overweight and almost one in 10 can be categorised as obese.’ And worryingly figures are even higher in the UK. The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation estimate that one in four British adults is now obese – a figure much higher than many of our European counterparts.

It should be no real surprise to hear that obesity can have an extremely serious impact on health – including an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, osteoarthritis and several forms of cancer. All of these issues can cause or contribute to premature death.

Yet, it isn’t just those people who are clinically obese whose health can be affected by lifestyle diseases. A poor relationship with nutrition and exercise can lead to a catalogue of health concerns that affect both the body and the mind. Let’s take a closer look at some of the symptoms that may be encountered with weight gain:

Mental health issues and depression:

Alongside the stresses placed on the body, weight gain can also have a major psychological impact. Those who are overweight often encounter low self-esteem, negative body image, anxiety and in some cases more serious mental health issues such as eating disorders and depression.

The role that diet plays in mental health is an obvious but under-recognised fact. At a basic level, maintaining a healthy balance of complex carbohydrates, fats, amino acids, vitamins and minerals in the body can play a significant role in balancing mood and emotions. Conversely, erratic spikes in nutrients and particularly blood sugar can lead to mood swings and greater stress.

In the same vein, regular exercise can have a profound impact on mental health, helping to combat depression, anxiety, stress and low self-esteem, through the release of endorphins.

Joint pain:

Weight gain can also lead to joint pain, particularly on weight-baring joints like the knees and hips. In fact every extra pound of weight gained puts an extra four pound of pressure on to our knee joints. Which means that extra 5 pounds of holiday weight adds 20 pounds of weight to each knee. So it’s really no surprise bones and joints can suffer wear and tear overtime.

Indigestion and heartburn:

Recent studies have shown that those who gain weight dramatically increase their risk of heartburn. Heartburn, also known as acid reflux, occurs when the acidic stomach juices flow up into the oesophagus. This is thought to be caused by pressure in the stomach. While this can bring discomfort it can also increase the chances of something much more serious. If left untreated, it can lead to gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GERD) which increases the risk of esophageal cancer.

Infertility:

Obesity can have significant implications in terms of fertility, particularly for women. According to the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), more than 70% of women who are infertile due to weight issues, would be able to successfully conceive without the aid of fertility treatments if they maintained a healthy weight. Excess fat is the main culprit here as fat cells help create the reproductive hormone, oestrogen. Too many fat cells, lead to an overload in sex hormones, which can disrupt ovulation.

Men who gain excess weight also experience hormonal changes that effect fertility — mainly a reduction in testosterone levels. There are also much higher rates of erectile dysfunction among obese men, making it more difficult for couples to conceive.

Maintaining a healthy BMI is the best way to avoid the health impacts caused by weight gain. Weight loss should always be achieved through healthy means. That means maintaining a balanced diet and exercising regularly.

For those who are carrying a lot of extra weight, there are also several medications available that can help you on your weight loss journey. Xenical, also known as Orlistat works well as part of a healthy weight loss strategy.

Want expert medical advice about safe and sustainable weight management? Why not contact our pharmacy team today on 0208 123 0703?