Does Anxiety and Depression Cause Weight Loss?


According to the good folk at Miami-based counseling and wellness center Psych Blossom (, unintentional weight loss is something that they frequently come across when providing both anxiety and depression therapy.  People who lose weight suddenly often worry that they are losing weight because they are seriously ill. However, conditions such as anxiety and depression can often be the reason for unexplained weight loss. But why is this?

How are Depression and Anxiety Linked to Weight Loss?

Since most people assume that conditions such as anxiety and depression are mental rather than physical, they do not automatically link them to their weight loss. But these mental health conditions affect the body too and are a cause of a variety of physical symptoms, weight loss being just one of them.

Feeling constantly sad or uneasy can take its toll on the body. While some people will turn to food as a comfort when they are feeling depressed or anxious, resulting in weight gain, others simply cannot think of eating, and this can lead to a dramatic weight loss.

When you are feeling nervous or upset, you might not be thinking about food as you are preoccupied with other thoughts. If you do feel like eating, you might only have a couple of bites before you either feel full or feel sick.

Other people will find that their eating patterns are not affected by their feelings of anxiety, but they have a constant need to be moving about in order to calm their nervousness. This increased motion can also result in an unexpected weight loss.

Anxiety also has the ability to affect other bodily responses, which in turn can affect metabolism. For example, if you are feeling on edge, your body’s fight or flight response may kick in. This will mean you are in a heightened state of alert, and this then causes your heart rate, as well as your metabolism, to speed up, which in turn has an effect on your weight.

If you are taking medication for your depression or anxiety, it may be that this medication has affected your weight. It is worth speaking to a doctor if your weight has dropped and you are unsure of the cause.

How Much Weight Can You Lose?

Weight loss caused by anxiety and depression can either occur very quickly or it can be an ongoing issue over a number of weeks or months. While the more weight you are carrying the more you may lose, it is not uncommon for someone of average weight to lose between ten and fifteen percent of their bodyweight because of anxiety or depression. This is understandably going to be a cause for concern, although many people who lose weight when they are anxious or depressed will lose more than they might expect to.

How is Anxiety and Depression Treated?

If you are concerned about your sudden weight loss, you should speak to your doctor and book in for a check-up. But if you believe that the loss of weight is caused by depression, anxiety, or both, you will need to get to the cause of the problem. Doctors and counselors can help. The treatment provided will depend on the cause of the condition. It may be a combination of dietary and lifestyle changes coupled with therapy and medication.


Unexplained weight loss can indeed be caused by mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression. Many people who are suffering from these conditions will not even realize that their food intake has dropped considerably, while others will lose weight because of increased movement or changes to their metabolism.

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