Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) has frequently been found to have a significant impact on the development of obesity. Yet, while a reciprocal relationship has been found between obesity and depression, the relationship between past traumatic episodes and obesity is usually thought of as uni directional. The purpose of the present study was to examine whether the level of PTSD symptoms decrease as a result of weight loss in 30 obese participants during a 16 week stay at a weight loss facility. During the 16 weeks participants’ Body Mass Index (BMI) decreased significantly. Concurrently, a significant decline in the level of PTSD symptoms was also reported. During the first week of treatment, 17 participants (57%) qualified for the diagnosis of PTSD when measured by a standardised checklist for PTSD symptoms. By week 16, only 6 participants (20%) qualified for the PTSD diagnosis. Level of depression also declined, whereas perceived social support was stable. The fact that the level of PTSD symptoms decreases simultaneously with weight loss is an interesting and positive side effect that has not been reported previously. The findings are discussed in term of cognitive theories of PTSD.
PTSD; Weight Loss; Depression; Obesity
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SARMAC (Society for Applied Research in Memory and Cognition) Conference IX, 2011