Depression and Appetite Loss: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment and More

Editor's Note: This article has been recently updated with latest information and research studies.
 

What is Appetite?

Appetite refers to natural desire or craving for a particular thing especially food. When hungry, your body sends signal to your brain about a yearning for a meal or a drink. The craving for a plate is in response by your body quest to provide energy for metabolisms.

Alternative Names

A decreased* desire for food is referred to as anorexia while a strong craving for food is known as hyperphagia or polyphagia. An alteration of appetite can lead to eating disorders that include aneroxia nervosa, bulimia nervosa or cachesia. Overeating and binge eating refer to an increased craving for food.

Understanding Loss of Appetite

Depression and Appetite Loss

Perhaps at one time you developed a dislike for your favorite meal. You may just pick a few spoons and you become full. In other occasions, you might feel full for a meal. A worse situation may occur where you feel hungry but you are unable to eat you best food. Your body becomes weak making it difficult to carry out your daily activities. Your coordination is severed coz your brain doesn’t get proper nutrition to function normally. Persistent dislike for meals may lead to malnutrition making you susceptible to opportunistic illnesses.

What are the Symptoms of Loss of Appetite?

Loss of appetite is characterized by lack of desire to take food. If you are taking less* than you were used to, you could be suffering from appetite loss. Some people develop a craving for a particular kind of meal or drink when having anorexia. Skipping of major meals can be a sign of decreased* appetite.

What are the Causes of Sudden Loss of Appetite?

  • Infections: An infection in the mouth or gastrointestinal tract may distract your craving for a meal especially if there is pain during chewing or swallowing. It might be difficult to chew foods if you are suffering painful tooth decay
  • Diseases: Certain diseases such as hyperthyroidism, AIDS*, flu, fever or a headache are known to cause a sudden loss of appetite. It may not happen to all the patients but majority report decreased* appetite. One’s appetite is restored when the situation ends or get controlled
  • Medications: Some prescription medicines are associated with loss of appetite. Medicines used in the treatment of cancer, antibiotics, pain killers can take away your easting abilities. Even those self-medicating medicines you obtain from your local pharmacy can lead to appetite loss
  • Emotional Stress: Feelings that affect your moods which include loneliness, boredom, nervousness, fear, worry or tension can lead to loss of appetite. You may feel upset, or your stomach develop complications taking away your desire to eat

Significance

Reduction* in the amount of food you take in every meal can lead to weight loss*. It is a common practice in obese persons who have intentions of shedding off a few pounds. General body weakness can be caused by loss of appetite. People with fatal illness such as depression may avoid meals as way of committing suicide.

Loss of Appetite Due to Anxiety or Depression

Depression and anxiety affects a person’s outlook in life. With sadness, worry and fear, you won’t find that meal enjoyable in the company of others. Instead you will be focused on your misery while spending time in isolation. Loss of interest in pleasurable activities including meal is common among people suffering from depression or anxiety.

How Depression Affects Appetite?

Depression affects appetite in two different ways. Some depressed people suffer increased loss of appetite. They avoid meals or take very little to maintain their lives. Eventually, there is notable weight loss* in such individuals. Other forms of depression can manifest in an increased appetite. One is continually craving and reaching out for food especially junk foodstuffs. Such an individual becomes overweight in the long run.

When to Contact a Medical Professional?

If you experienced loss of appetite, or you are unable to take a meal, trying semi-solid can be the best alternative. However, if this doesn’t work or you feel the loss of appetite is taking toll of your activities at work, home or school, it is the right time to contact your personal doctor.

How is Loss of Appetite Diagnosed?

Due the complex nature of possible causes of appetite, your physician will conduct a thorough and comprehensive medical test to establish its cause. Blood and fecal samples obtained from a patient are subjected through a number of laboratory tests. The physician uses a checklist to rule out and confirm all the possible causes.

Treatment for Loss of Appetite

After a proper diagnosis, your physician will treat* the underlying condition causing loss of appetite. You may be requested to have a routine eating time and limit the amount of your fluids intake. A good eating environment with beautiful servings can encourage* you to eat. Your doctor will recommend appetite stimulating drugs such as Megace, marinol, promethazine or Zofran.

Prevention

  • Use natural herbal remedies such as cloves, garlic or green tea
  • Ask your doctor to prescribe medicines that stimulate appetite
  • Avoid flavors that give noxious smell or odors in foods
  • Take frequent foods in small quantities
  • Always go for your favorite meal
  • Avoid too much drinks before taking meals

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Author

Expert Author : Joan Raynor (Consumer Health Digest)

Joan Raynor is a health researcher and expert writer specializing in mental health issues where she provides hope and support to persons with treatment-resistant depression and other chronic mood disorders.