"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

How childhood trauma can result in obesity in individuals with serious mental illness.

People with severe mental illness (SMI), resembling schizophrenia, often experience obesity. And within the UK there are approx. Likely twice being obese in comparison with those without the diagnosis.

People with SMI even have the next risk of other obesity-related diseases resembling type 2 diabetes, respiratory disease, heart disease and heart failure. The result's life expectancy. 15 years less than general population.

Many experts consider that the increased risk of obesity is as a result of medications used to treat mental illness. Antipsychotics, for instance, are Often shown To affect body weight.

But this explanation doesn't consider the role that deep psychological aspects play in obesity. There is a body of research that means childhood trauma. There is a big part to play too

Psychological trauma and obesity

Psychologists often discuss with childhood trauma as “adverse childhood experiences” (ACEs). Such experiences include abuse and neglect (each physical and emotional), mental illness and substance abuse in the house, witnessing domestic abuse, and the incarceration of a relative.

That's form of shocking. Strongly attached with the event of mental illnesses later in life. This may explain why many individuals treated in psychiatric hospitals have had such experiences. For example, 70% of people Forensic psychiatric hospitals have at the least one ACE in comparison with 47% of the population in Wales.

Research also shows that trauma can affect people's behavior. Oh A recent study found that somebody who experienced 4 or more negative childhood experiences was twice as prone to have an unhealthy eating regimen. That might explain why there may be 46% increase. In adult obesity complications after exposure to multiple ACEs.

However, despite this data, little attention has been paid by policymakers to how childhood trauma may affect obesity in individuals with serious mental illness.

Why is it that individuals who experience childhood trauma have the next risk of obesity? It is well-known that individuals who've had a traumatic childhood experience engage in behaviors that usually are not particularly healthy, resembling self-harm, drug abuse and binge eating. These people do that as a type of avoidance, to distract themselves from the difficult thoughts and feelings they experience.

is the term used to explain this behavior. “Experiential Avoidance”.

Eating our emotions.

Experiential avoidance can take many forms, but one common form is emotional eating, which is the tendency to eat in response to negative emotions. This is expounded to the consumption of tasty foods which can be high in calories.

When someone emotionally eats, they could experience a numbing of intense negative emotions, grow to be preoccupied and A sense of calm. This is because after we eat food with numerous fat and sugar, it prompts the brain's reward and pleasure centers. Of course, it's okay to eat foods high in fat and sugar sparsely. But the positive effects of eating palatable, high-calorie foods are sometimes short-lived.

Eating foods wealthy in sugar and fat prompts the reward and pleasure centers of our brain.
Beats 1/Shutterstock

Therefore, individuals who engage in experiential avoidance may depend on these foods and overeat them. this, According to researchwhich may result in weight gain and obesity.

Currently, the Treatment instructions People with SMI don't consider the effect of ACE on obesity on this group of individuals. This might be as a result of the overuse of antipsychotic drugs that contribute to excessive weight gain.

And despite the negative effects that obesity can have on individuals with serious mental illness, psychiatric services are sometimes lacking Ignore physical health issues Because some psychiatric staff feel they're. Not properly trained To cope with the physical health of their patients.

In order to enhance the physical health of individuals with serious mental illness, it is crucial that mental health professionals and policymakers consider the impact of psychological trauma on obesity on this population.

Developing a trauma-informed approach to each psychological and physical health care is critical. In essence, this can involve care teams which have a Full picture Providing adequate training on their patient, mental and physical, and the consequences of psychological trauma on an individual's behavior.