Mental Health Counseling and Obesity

September 23, 2013

2013_09_18_FBPM_GuardianMental health counseling may be just the thing to cut down on obesity, a condition that is often misunderstood. Obesity has strong connections with mental illness. In fact, adults with depression are 60% more likely to be obese than those without. Anxiety, eating disorders, and stress can all contribute to obesity; contrary to popular opinion, it is not simply a question of willpower.

Why Battle Obesity With Mental Health Counseling?

Identify the Source

Extreme weight gain can be linked to a number of factors, including medication, mental health, injury, ingrained habits, and a lack of nutritional knowledge. Mental health counseling can get to the core of what is causing obesity. Without understanding why a person is overweight, the path of treatment is not always clear. Someone who has gained weight due to medication should have a different treatment plan than someone who is living with an eating disorder.

How Mental Health Counseling Can Help

If you are obese, you are probably already aware of it. The point of mental health counseling is not to acknowledge the problem, but to help you understand how you can change it. A mental health professional can set up a series of achievable goals that focus on your particular situation. This may include nutritional advice, weekly exercise, and talk therapy to address the underlying causes. Many people who manage to lose weight through diet and exercise may find that the weight returns because they have not yet dealt with the internal triggers that lead to weight gain.

Eating Disorders

Eating disorders encompass more than anorexia nervosa. There is actually an entire range of mental health disorders related to eating, including binge eating disorder, bulimia, or a combination of several disorders. Eating disorders may co-occur with depression or anxiety, and mental health counseling can be very important in devising a treatment plan. An eating disorder is complicated, and includes emotional issues as well as habitual behaviors with food or exercise. Binge eating disorder, which can cause obesity, is not just about food. Over-eating is a symptom of something deeper that can be difficult to resolve on your own.

Affordable Care Act

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, obesity is now an epidemic in the United States. It can lead to heart disease, diabetes, and other medical conditions. As part of the Affordable Care Act, Medicare covers mental health counseling as part of intensive behavioral therapy for obesity. This includes screenings, nutritional assessments, and counseling. As with other mental health or substance abuse disorders, overcoming obesity cannot be achieved without a commitment from the client. Obesity and mental health disorders cannot be changed overnight, but with time and patience, you can see results.

If you or someone you love is suffering from a mental illness and is facing financial obstacles to services, please call us at 1-800-338-5770. At Guardian Behavioral Health Foundation we provide access to low-cost or no-cost mental health services through a variety of community mental health centers and professionals.  We also offer educational workshops for families and professionals.