Gained weight or had trouble losing it on Abilify or Trazodone?
December 11, 2013 5:55 PM   Subscribe

I have been on both Abilify and Trazodone for about two years and have gained about 30 pounds. Before I started both drugs two years ago I lost 20 pounds by restricting my diet without exercise. Well, I realized in the past couple of months that things needed to change as far as my weight was concerned. For the past month and a half, I have now been on a 1 hour / day elliptical machine workout plan and 1400-1600 calorie per day diet (I'm F, 5'10, 225 pounds) and I am not losing weight. One week I may lose a pound, the next, I gain a pound. I weight in once a week, on Sundays. It is very frustrating. I have fluctuated from 228 to 224 and back since I've started. Ack!

I have an appointment with my psychiatrist coming up, but she can't see me until Jan. 28. I can't think of what it could be other than these meds. I have found online that Trazodone causes "weight change" but wasn't sure about Abilify. The info is all over the place on that drug. I'm really frustrated. Any one out there had similar experiences to mine with these drugs? Like I said, I'll talk to my doctor before changing my doses or anything. Thanks in advance.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
An elliptical is not really going to help you lose much weight, and will likely make you hungrier than before. Most people have a lot of success losing weight if they cut out processed foods, especially breads, rice and sugars, if they were eating them on the regular beforehand.
posted by zoomorphic at 6:01 PM on December 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Yes, I spent a couple of years using an elliptical and although I wouldn't say it was bad for me, I think the effort wasn't worth it. There have been a number of studies that indicate that steady state cardio won't cut it.

I've been on anti-depressants of various kinds for a bazillion years, and honestly I haven't seen an effect on my weight. But I'll tell you the two biggest secrets I found to weight loss. 1. Food diary. Write down EVERY SINGLE THING you put into your mouth, up to and including water. If you find that you don't want to write it down, consider that you may not actually be hungry or that you know you don't want it to become part of the permanent record, in which case you shouldn't eat it. 2. Food scale. Even when we measure food, we unintentionally cheat and a small error can mean a lot of calories on certain foods. Really, measure everything and if it's something that you don't measure by weight, then make sure you don't use "heaping" teaspoons or "rounded" cups.

Do ask your doctor to check your thyroid levels. I have Hashimoto's thyroiditis and when I feel sluggish or can't explain weight gain, I am all over my doctor to see if my meds need to be increased (she has explained patiently to me that thyroid medication is not a weight loss drug, but it does have a measurable effect on the metabolism).
posted by janey47 at 6:15 PM on December 11, 2013 [1 favorite] is a free website produced by the US govt which includes the full text of medication labels approved by the FDA. It is a great place to go for scientific information about prescription drugs. According to the Abilify labeling, yes, this drug like all drugs in its class, has the potential to cause weight gain, although it is a somewhat uncommon side effect.

No suggestions on losing weight, but good luck!
posted by holyrood at 6:23 PM on December 11, 2013

I have taken Trazodone consistently for about five years and have not noticed any effect on my weight.
posted by something something at 6:43 PM on December 11, 2013

I also gained about 30 pounds on psych meds last year -- I blame Seroquel. I started taking Abilify after most of the damage was done, but I've been on it ever since (currently at 30mg, a pretty high dose).

I've lost 21 pounds in the last six months through a very low calorie diet (less than 1200 calories on most days of the week), relentlessly tracking food with MyFitnessPal, and running (10-15 miles a week, not a lot). It has sucked, but it's been possible. I track my weight every day with, where I can keep an eye on the moving average. I find that much more comforting than weighing in once a week.

I did increase my Abilify dosage last month and promptly gained back two pounds, but I was able to lose it again within a couple of weeks.

So hang in there; weight loss is possible even on these shitty meds. Good luck.
posted by sock puppet du jour at 7:35 PM on December 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Find out everything you can about every possible psych drug that you and your doc might consider. The best book I ever read on finding psych meds, the author again and again insisted that it is us -- we, the consumer, those who sit on this side of the shrinks desk -- it is us who are really responsible for our recovery. This writer stated again and again the the meds are out there, that there is medicinal armistice to be found with our son-of-a-bitching illnesses, but it can be a huge job to find the right ones, and its our job. The shrink has the magic pen, the magic pad of paper, hopefully a good head, hopefully some compassion.

But it's for us to walk in their damn door knowing how to talk to them, speaking their dialect, knowing the questions to ask, dosages, side effects, all of it. All of it. It's really fun to watch a shrink open their eyes, they spit out some bullshit or other and you say "But I'm not supposed to take Y and Z together, am I, especially at that dosage, more especially because I've got polio" or whatever it is. They see that you're on the team, and that this is a team, and unless they're a total shitbird they'll love you for it.

Crazymeds is of course a great place to start, so much good information there. A good start, and tons of links to follow down on your way toward conversing intelligibly with your shrink, all the while watching her magic pen and that magic pad like a hawk. (I mean, really, if what happens in there doesn't help us, the shrink still sits in front of their fireplace that night drinking nice wine, meanwhile we're over here wanting to jump off the roof. It's our job. It's at least halfway our responsibility; I say it's more than that. It's a big job, it's a big pain in the ass, but hugely rewarding, once we find our way.)


The amount of weight you've shifted in the amount of time you've been moving your body a lot, I say that you're doing great. You know that muscle weighs more than fat, that sometimes you'll step on the scale and be all wtf is this about when it's actually good things happening. Pounds are not really the measure, you can get crazy behind fear of the scale -- I sure do. I try to use clothing more than scales -- I pulled on a pair of levis today and couldn't comfortably button the top button, and like a month ago I easily could -- fuck. Time to quit calling the pizza delivery guys, step away from the obvious lunacies in my life. I'm not riding the bike as much as in the summer, either, nor swimming, I've gotta get a move on, I've gotta follow your lead here.

Everything is all right. I say you're doing great. Learn everything you can between now and mtg your shrink, walk in there with a smile on your face, a song in your heart. Enjoy the beauties of late autumn, early winter; maybe instead of jumping around on some machine you could walk through some parks, or jog, ride a bike, jump up and down, whatever your deal is. Look happily into your mirror, knowing you're living right, you're taking good care of yourself.
posted by dancestoblue at 8:08 PM on December 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Abilify is fairly predictable in causing weight gain, it's not the worst culprit, but this is definitely something I always go over because at times it results in weight gain to the extent where diabetes becomes a real concern.

It has a clear and exhaustively documented effect in changing the way your metabolism works and shifting the balance to fat storage. If patients make significant changes to their exercise and diet it's not an issue, but that's not realistic for most people.
posted by hobo gitano de queretaro at 8:19 PM on December 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Here is my experience.

First: weight.
As far as weight goes, I want to be one more voice to encourage you to stop looking at that number on the scale as a be-all and end-all.

Your weight can feel like it is stagnating, even if you are getting healthier. 200 pounds of mostly fat is not the same as 200 pounds of mostly muscle.

Plus, weight fluctuates greatly during the day. Are you weighing yourself at the same time, under the same conditions? Pardon the grossness here... but if you weigh yourself before you use the bathroom one day, and after you use it the next day, you're going to see a significant difference. Four pounds is a typical amount to fluctuate, so you shouldn't think of yourself as really rising and falling at all. Sounds to me like your weight is staying pretty constant.

Anyway, let me tell you about my experience as an example of why weight doesn't matter all that much. Last year I weighed about 212 pounds. I began greatly increasing my exercise. I ran two half marathons, improved my diet, changed the way I handle my daily routine, and really became a healthier person. This year, at my annual physical, I weighed in at 207. However, my blood draw numbers radically improved. I am unquestionably much healthier than I was a year ago. I wish I weighed a lot less, but I love the fact that I can run longer, run faster, and breathe easier these days.

Instead of focusing on your weight, I would choose to focus on achievements... this is what really helps me. How fast can you go on the elliptical for a certain amount of time? Can you challenge yourself to beat that pace? How far can you go in a half hour? Can you challenge yourself to beat that distance? Help yourself out by giving yourself some measurable goals that you can reach and beat over time, to help yourself see how you're getting healthier through exercise. This is why so many weightlifters carry around a little book where they write down their daily achievements. Having those kinds of records and achievements helps you to get beyond simplistic, inaccurate measures of health, like weight.

A final note... ellipticals are great because they are low impact. That said, I know this is anecdotal to a degree... but I feel they don't provide the same workout that you'd get by getting out and jogging outdoors. It can be harder on your knees and legs, but if you learn how to run with good form, jogging can really build up your muscles and build bone density in ways that an elliptical can't. So maybe you could find even more effective forms of exercise to help you, and jogging might be one of them... especially if you can run in intervals and mix in sprints as you jog.

Second: antidepressants.
Meds like trazodone definitely make it far easier for your body to put on weight. For most people, like me, they are motivation killers... they make you feel like slowing down, eating more, and relaxing more (some of these things are indeed helpful when you're depressed, right?). I gained lots of weight on SSRIs and SARIs (including trazodone), so I know how you feel. The documentation out there on Abilify seems to say the same thing, from everything I am seeing. So yes, your medications are likely causing you to keep weight, or lose weight slower. They are probably going to make losing weight more difficult, and you're going to have to accept that if you stay on them.

But are they worth it in how they are helping you improve your life? If so, then don't sweat the weight changes so much... just keep trying to get healthier and beat those goals and achievements. If they aren't helping you improve your life that much, then maybe you might want to speak with your doctor about antidepressants that don't have such significant weight gain and inactivity side effects... or about whether you can reduce dosages, or cut medications entirely.

So here's the bottom line: hang in there!

I know exactly what it is like to deal with weight and appearance insecurity when dealing with battling depression and finding effective medication to help you improve your life.

You're starting a workout plan and you are working on eating healthier. You are doing a fantastic job. Give yourself some time to see some results, but for now, just be proud of yourself! You deserve to!
posted by Old Man McKay at 11:50 PM on December 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

It's almost certain the Abilify. All the atypical antipsychotics cause weight gain.
posted by professor plum with a rope at 3:44 AM on December 12, 2013

I have not taken Abilify (though my doc would like me to) but have taken Trazadone. I experienced mild weight gain on Trazadone (my dose was low---prescribed more as a sleep aid) but was able to take it off again fairly quickly once I discontinued the med.

I have experienced heavy (roughly 25 lbs) weight gain on a cocktail of Lithium, Seroquel, Buspirone and Effexor. I attribute this weight gain to the effect the drug has on cravings, satiety and metabolism itself. I know these things were dramatically affected for me.

You are on 2 meds fairly well known for causing weight gain so it will be especially difficult to keep the weight off. I know the weight gain is a very unpleasant side effect, but have the meds helped the diagnosis they were originally prescribed for? Are you feeling better on them? If not, definitely consult with your doc about perhaps weaning off your current cocktail and trying something different.
posted by stubbehtail at 11:00 AM on December 12, 2013

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