Effexor and Iron
March 7, 2007 6:50 PM   Subscribe

I was on Effexor for about a year to treat my depression, during which time (for the first time in 7+ years) my weight training came screeching to an abrupt halt. (My energy level just wasn't there anymore, nor was I able to focus enough to be able to have a satisfying workout.)

Anyways - I've been off that stuff since late September, and for the last few months I've been attempting to make lifting weights part of my regular lifestyle once more.
Problem is - even after a few months, my strength just doesn't seem to want to come back.
Coming back off of a layoff, I expected to start out weak, gain strength fairly quickly, then plateau. My plateau seems to be at the "weak" level, however.
I'm keeping my workouts very bare-bones with just the basic moves (presses, deadlifts, etc.) and six days of rest before working the same muscle group, to avoid over-training.

So, I guess I have two distinct questions. (I hope that's not cheating.)

1) To any past Effexor users: has anyone else had a similar experience, either in the initial drop in energy level, or the difficulty in getting back in shape?
2) To everyone: any ideas for "kick-starting" my failing attempts to regain my strength?

(I'm 34 years old - in case that matters.)
posted by Tbola to Health & Fitness (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Try this. It worked for me and gave me the kick start that I needed. Read the article as it makes some good arguments then watch the little slide show that shows you the work out.

posted by bkeene12 at 7:44 PM on March 7, 2007

I don't know if it's quite the same with weight training as it is with Cardio, but exercise has a natural anti-depressant effect. Perhaps before you were working out to stave off depression, where as now, you don't notice any change in emotional state after a workout. That might be why it doesn't seem as "satisfying".
posted by delmoi at 9:27 PM on March 7, 2007

Best answer: I'm in a similar situation, actually -- I too went on Effexor, stopped working out because I had no energy, and am just now getting back into a routine after having stopped taking Effexor. It's been difficult for me too, but to be honest I never made the connection between that and the medication.

IANAD, but it seems like the Effexor should be out of your system by now. Getting back into a lifting routine is tough, and if the last time you started was seven years ago, it makes sense that it would be harder now than it was then -- your body's changed a lot in that time. Plus, it's easy to look back and think that starting a routine is easier than it acutally was. It took me a while to really remember how I had to force myself to go to the gym and how it was a good few months before I hit my workout "stride."

If you can, track your workouts (how many reps/sets you're doing, what weights, etc.) so you can see your progress. If a number of weeks pass and you're still not seeing any improvement, I think you'd be justified in talking to your doctor to see if there's not something else going on with you.

Good luck!
posted by AV at 6:13 AM on March 8, 2007

Best answer: I've been on a cocktail of anti-depressants (including Effexor, for a while) and Lamictal for about two years, and I believe they saved my life. Like you, I followed a strict exercise regimen before I started treatment for my bipolar disorder. I also kept a food diary that I used to track ever single crumb that passed my lips.

But after the medicine started working, my drive to exercise fell off dramatically, and I've never really gotten it back. I was going to the gym six days out of the week, taking spin classes, Pilates and a sculpting class. Now I go about three times a week for cardio and once a week for personal training. My doctor and I have fooled around with the medication, but this problem seems to be a constant.

So I'm happier, but fatter. I'm also messier. I no longer spend two hours cleaning the kitchen, using a toothpick to dig out dirt. I've lost a lot of that perfectionist drive.

Although in general I'm a much saner person, I still obsess about my body. I'm trying to get back in the groove too, but when I feel really down, I remind myself that though I'm no longer in the best shape of my life, at least I'm alive.
posted by Evangeline at 7:37 AM on March 8, 2007

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