Your Mental Health Affects Your Appetite

Having an appetite is the signal your body sends to say that you need food. When you lose your appetite, you have no desire to eat and thus are unable to get the signals that tell you when your body needs nutrition.

Loss of appetite can be traced back to a number of reasons, some physical and others psychological. When this lack of appetite persists and brings with it other issues such as extreme weight loss and fatigue, it may be a symptom of another illness or disorder.

Some Non-physical Conditions Associated with Appetite Loss

Appetite loss is not purely tied to physical causes such as flu and medication side effects. These are a few psychological explanations that equally require medical attention.

1. Suffering from an Eating Disorder

It is not often easy to distinguish an eating disorder from any usual loss of appetite. However, when your loss of appetite is accompanied by an immense desire to become thinner, it becomes a cause for concern.

When a person suffers from an eating disorder, they are not only feeling a lack of appetite. There is also a deliberate resistance of any hunger signals the body is sending.

Anorexia nervosa is one such disorder in which a person develops an immense fear of gaining weight. This results in extreme measures such as too much exercising, skipping meals, or using laxatives to lose weight.

Another eating disorder is bulimia nervosa, where a person eats a large amount of food or goes on an eating binge, then attempts to prevent weight gain by resorting to extreme measures such as inducing vomiting, taking laxatives and diet pills, or other methods.

Eating disorders are difficult to face alone. If you or someone you know is currently suffering from one, do not hesitate to seek help. There are anorexia nervosa and bulimia recovery programs that provide assistance with empathy.

2. Living with Depression or Anxiety

Eating habits are usually affected by depression. For some people, depression causes overeating. For others, it also results in a loss of appetite. Depression makes one lose energy in doing usual activities, which results in a lack of motivation to eat.

Similarly, symptoms of anxiety could also either result in overeating or a loss of motivation to eat. Mild anxiety may cause a person to find comfort in eating food. Intense anxiety or persistent experience with it, however, may cause one to lose their appetite due to the hormonal changes experienced by individuals with anxiety disorders.

Similar to other disorders, depression and anxiety also require an intentional treatment program where persons living with these illnesses can find a supportive space to recover. They need the proper medical treatment just like any other illness.

man holding his head

3. Dealing with Too Much Stress

When having to manage stress, it is common to hear the issue of stress or comfort eating. This causes individuals to look towards foods tasty but often unhealthy foods to alleviate whatever tension they are feeling.

However, stress also causes one to lose their appetite. When you are stressed, your body’s fight-or-flight response activates and temporarily suspends your hunger. Making a habit of not eating when you are stressed actually trains your body and mind to lose their grasp of recognizing hunger, so it is important to be sensitive to what your body needs.

Responding to Loss of Appetite

As previously mentioned, eating disorders and mental illnesses are best treated through the help of medical professionals, such as therapists with whom you can freely discuss your struggles and concerns. But that does not mean that little habit changes on your end will not make any difference.

Firstly, if eating three full meals a day is a struggle, try out a different approach. Instead of big meals, have more frequent, but smaller meals daily to make sure your body receives the nutrients it needs.

Introduce healthy smoothies, too, if consuming liquids is easier for you. Also, do not forget to drink plenty of water and other fluids to prevent dehydration.

Add some exercises into your daily habits, too, but do not overexert your body. Start with light stretches and a bit of walking, building up the repetitions and workouts as the habit gets formed. Exercise is a great, healthy way to stay in shape while also helping your appetite.

Physical conditions are not the only ones that could make you lose your appetite. Your mental state also has an apparent effect on how you recognize appetite and respond to it. While disorders and mental illnesses are not always easy to recognize, there are doctors who are trained to diagnose these and help treat them. Should you need help, know that seeking it out is healthy for you.

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