Appetite and depression are connected, according to psychological experts. There are two potential appetite related symptoms associated with depression: increased appetite and decreased appetite. Patients may feel one or both symptoms some of the time or all of the time. Doctors suggest the connection may have something to do with mood hormones released by the brain.
Reduced appetite may be a common symptom of depression. Appetite and depression may be linked due to fatigue and loss of energy. As the body requires less energy, appetite may decrease because less food is needed to maintain normal body function. Another potential cause for the link between decreased appetite and depression may be altered mood chemicals output by the brain.
Increased appetite is another potential symptom of depression. While there is no clinical information as to why increased appetite and depression are linked, some doctors associate it with the comforting feeling food provides for some people. As described in cases of food addiction in obesity, food can cause a rise in good mood hormones for a short period of time after it is consumed.
Antidepressant prescription medications are also associated with increased and decreased appetite. Many prescription medications commonly given to patients with depression list decreased appetite as a potential side effect, along with nausea. When being treated with prescription medications for depression, it is important to tell the prescribing doctor if nausea is a regular symptom. Nausea is also a symptom of serotonin disorder, which can be life threatening. Patients just starting treatment with antidepressants or those prescribed more than one antidepressant are more likely to suffer from serotonin syndrome.
Serotonin disorder or serotonin syndrome is typically associated with antidepressant medications. Serotonin is a hormone released by the brain that affects mood, and these hormone levels may be altered during episodes of depression. When too much serotonin is released, it can lead to agitation, nausea, and vomiting. Other common symptoms include fluctuating blood pressure, increased heart rate, and diarrhea. Treatment of the syndrome can help relieve symptoms in 24 to 48 hours, but left untreated the syndrome can lead to death.
It may be important for patients suffering from depression to seek help from a medical professional, especially if decreased or increased appetite are symptoms. These symptoms may indicate an underlying condition that requires treatment. For example, eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa have been linked to altered serotonin levels in the brain, changes in appetite and depression.