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Recognizing the challenges of weight loss with chronic conditions

Lana Bandoim's picture

Weight loss is difficult under normal circumstances, but those who suffer from chronic health conditions have extra challenges. Many chronic problems include fatigue that makes exercise difficult, medications that lead to weight gain, and other issues that make it more complicated to keep the extra pounds away. However, recognition of these challenges is the first step to understanding and starting a weight loss journey.


Chronic conditions and fatigue

Some of the most common chronic health conditions include heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, asthma and other problems. One of the frequent complaints from patients is that their chronic conditions cause fatigue and make it more difficult to exercise. For example, fatigue is a recurrent problem for diabetes patients, and changes to their lifestyle are not enough to eliminate it. Fatigue can be caused by several factors including variations in blood sugar levels and medication side effects. Diabetics need to adjust their diet and be willing to try new recipes that can help them boost their energy.

Overweight patients who suffer from chronic health problems are often encouraged to lose weight by exercising. However, many medical professionals fail to recognize that these patients are dealing with fatigue that makes lifting weights or running a mile an impossible task. Instead of setting unrealistic exercise goals, patients should find hobbies and activities that include physical movement and are easier to integrate into their schedules. Simple programs such as walking or chair exercises at home may be a better alternative.

Chronic conditions and medication side effects

Some of the medications that patients take for their chronic health problems have serious side effects, and one of them is weight gain. The list of drugs that cause weight gain is long, but it includes beta blockers, steroids, arthritis pills and others. It is easy to blame the patient for weight gain, yet it may be beyond his or her control. If you suspect your medications are causing you to gain extra pounds, then it is crucial to discuss it with your doctor. There may be alternative drugs or lower dosages that can help you control your weight.

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Chronic conditions and depression

Chronic conditions and depression are intricately linked with many patients suffering from both at the same time. It is difficult for them to stay positive as they face ongoing pain and watch their health deteriorate. Depression is considered to be a common complication of chronic illnesses, but many patients still do not get treatment.

Patients report that their chronic health problems can make them feel isolated and scared. They may not be able to work and gradually lose their independence. They may also see their relationships suffer, lose the ability to engage in favorite hobbies and watch their savings dwindle. The combination of stress, pain, illness and financial worry makes depression more difficult to fight. In addition, depression is linked to weight gain, and the medicine used to treat it also causes weight gain, so patients are stuck in a vicious cycle. Marina Williams, LMHC recommends that people address their depression before they try to lose weight.

A different approach to weight loss

Today’s culture usually blames the patient for being overweight, and doctors are quick to judge an extra snack or soda. However, patients who suffer from chronic health problems require a different approach to weight loss. Their fatigue, medications and depression need to be handled before they can shed the extra pounds.

Image from Pixabay.com and used with permission.