Weight gain/loss and depression
October 11, 2005 1:47 PM   Subscribe

Connections between depression, medicine, weight, and weight loss?

I am a large guy and have been so all of my life. I don't really over eat (I do tend to comfort eat in extreemly depressed times). I've tried all sorts of dieting, exercise, etc etc etc. I've basically given up on losing my weight without going to extreem measures like gastric bypass or the like (but to even consider that my horrible insurance requires a series of pyschiatric evaluations upwards of 2000 dollars out of my pocket.)
But I think I may have some problems with my head as well.. I tend to go from one extreem of happy to sad for hardly any reason without any notice. I also think I have some kind of panic attacks.. But I don't even know if what I have really are panic attacks. I get really really nervous or upset and jittery, extremely uncomfortable, and just kind of totally freeze up.
Anyway. I am thinking of seeing a doctor about those problems. And I am wondering if they do put me on any kind of medicine what kind of effect will that most likely have on my eating. I guess maybe if I eat even less then I do now then maybe I will lose some weight.. But if it will have the opposite effect then that would be bad.
Just looking to hear from some of you guys and see what your experience has been.
posted by JonnyRotten to Health & Fitness (16 answers total)
Well, excersize is actualy a very good way to get over depression, without medication. Might try killing two birds with one stone.
posted by delmoi at 1:58 PM on October 11, 2005

If you go in and you're diagnosed with depression and your doc has noted your weight, they'll probably put you on Wellbutrin XL. It's supposed to supress appetite, and it's actually being tested as a weight-loss drug. I'm on it, and lost 5-10lbs since I was not hungry at all the first month. Now my appetite's back, and I've lost no more weight.

But it sounds like you might not have depression, maybe bipolar disorder coupled with anxiety? The Wellbutrin is supposed to exacerbate anxiety, so they might not prescribe it.

Good luck, and you're not alone. (And if you have a deep depression, exercise isn't going to cut it.)
posted by lychee at 2:01 PM on October 11, 2005

Response by poster: I guess I should have been a little more specific in the area. I mentioned that I tried exercise along with diet.. I still excercise as much as I can.. Its not every day.. but a couple days a week.. Plus in my work I am very active walking several miles a day back and forth across the factory (I'm in the quality dept).
Even in my most heavy excercise periods though (every day cardio and strenght) it didn't really help any with either problem.
posted by JonnyRotten at 2:02 PM on October 11, 2005

I've been on Zoloft and am now on Paxil and I can't say I've noticed any effects on weight or appetite.
posted by epugachev at 2:11 PM on October 11, 2005

I take two 50mg 5HTP tablets a day. It keeps my head happier than Prozac ever did and also helps keep my appetite down. Go google and make your own mind up but I noticed the difference within a day or two in terms of energy and mood and long-term I've never felt better.
posted by brautigan at 2:17 PM on October 11, 2005

I was told that using Paxil would decrease my appetite. It didn't, and I did notice an slight increase in weight. I also didn't stay on the drug because I felt 'weird' all the time.

I feel for you. I am in the same place, with the mood swings, yo-yo weight (but never quite getting it all off), so I don't have an easy solution for you other than try and not give up on yourself, and perhaps see a counsellor as well as a medical doctor. That has done more for me than anything else I have tried.
posted by Quartermass at 2:20 PM on October 11, 2005

Your doctor will go over everything with you. If you decide to try some medication, s/he'll tell you about side effects and what to expect. Also, you'll get better advice here when and if you know exactly what medication is prescribed. Right now, you're not likely to get useful answers, since you haven't received even a diagnosis, let alone a course of treatment. One step at a time.

AS for exercise and overweight: I have to tell you (as an ex-fat person myself) that if you really were getting enough exercise and not overeating, then you wouldn't be gaining weight. That is, barring very rare conditions which your doctor can check on for you. If you want to address your weight issues, you'll have to track your calorie intake and activity level. Fitday.com is excellent. It's easy to enter what and how much you eat and get a pretty good estimate of how many calories you've taken in. You can also enter your vital statistics and your workouts and activity level and get an estimate of how much energy you've expended. If they're out of balance -- too little expenditure, too much intake -- you will gain weight, or at least lose none. Seeing it in black and white numbers makes it easier to understand what's going on, and whether the problem is overeating, underactivity, or both. If you want more specific information, you can buy a heart-rate monitor and wear it all day. It can tell you your total number of calories burned. Eat less than that, and you'll lose weight. It really is that simple, though when you're trying to let yourself off the hook, it's hard to accept.

I am sure all your maladies are linked somehow or other. I got fat when I quit smoking. I smoked to control an underlying anxiety problem -- when I quit, my food intake skyrocketed (though I didn't feel like I was eating a lot), and I was depressed. Being fat further depressed me. I ate more to control the anxiety and depression and got more anxious and depressed. Finally I went to see a therapist, who helped me put an end to the cycle. My magic bullet was exercise. That was several years ago. I started feeling better about 2 months after beginning my exercise program, and to this day I haven't really had any further depressive episodes, and I don't feel anxious. Exercise really is basic maintenance for the human body. When you don't get enough -- espeically as you get older -- it starts to hurt you.

Good luck. Go see the doc and ask him or her all your questions. Really, it'll help!
posted by Miko at 2:26 PM on October 11, 2005

I was on Wellbutrin about nine months (along with Effexor which I'm still taking). I didn't really note any loss of appetite yet it seemed to curb my compulsive snacking (alas, no weight lost). I've been off Wellbutrin for about three months and the snacking habit has yet to return.
posted by deborah at 2:39 PM on October 11, 2005

When you see your doctor, tell him your concerns about gaining weight. He will be careful to prescribe (assuming a prescription medication is determined to be necessary for you) a medication that has not been found to cause weight gain. Your doctor is not going to do something to cause you more anxiety; he wants to help. Good luck.
posted by amro at 2:56 PM on October 11, 2005

I used to get panic attacks all the time, complete with terrible chest pains. Then a friend told me to stop drinking caffeine. Ever since then, the panic attacks are much less frequent and only come around when I'm really stressed out.
As for the rest of your concerns, I say go ask the doc.
posted by idiotfactory at 4:44 PM on October 11, 2005

CrazyMeds is an excellent site that has information on the weight-neutrality (or lack thereof) of many ADs.

The associated boards also have in-the-trenches experiences by members; I believe anonymous posting is also possible if you wish to ask a question about a specific AD.
posted by NucleophilicAttack at 5:16 PM on October 11, 2005

I lost about 70 pounds on adderal, but I wouldn't necessarily recommend it. (Also, After I stopped the meds, I gained the weight back and then some.)
posted by bingo at 6:20 PM on October 11, 2005

If you turn out to be bipolar type two (you sound like me and that is what I have) you might try Lamictal, which does not make you gain. And I can tell you that not being depressed helps with weight loss as it is easier not to eat for emotional reasons.
posted by konolia at 6:25 PM on October 11, 2005

Diet (as opposed to dieting) can improve your mood, Jonny. Try organic foods. Steam vegetables, or cook on low heat using olive oil. Eat fish, nuts, fruits, vegetables, salads. Reduce or avoid alcohol and coffee. Drink green tea, and add black tea if you want more flavour. It may take a while, but I guarantee you'll feel better, and you'll probably lose weight.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 10:15 PM on October 11, 2005

A friend of mine lost about 5 stone (70lb) during a nervous breakdown and a course of Seroxat.
posted by corvine at 6:35 AM on October 12, 2005

FWIW, I was on Paxil for six months and I gained about 40 lbs. (that's 30% of my then body weight) during that period. I was hungry all the time, and my body's metabolism just ground to a halt. My MD took me off of it, and I wasn't hungry anymore, but my metabolism never came back. I'm still trying to lose the weight three years later.

Additionally, when I was weaning myself off of it, I had strange tingling sensations all over my body for days at a time. Like having a static shock at different points on your body all the time. It was the strangest feeling ever, and it's apparently a very common side-effect when discontinuing treatment. The tinglies stopped after about a month.
posted by MeetMegan at 8:19 AM on October 12, 2005

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