Antidepressant therapy is a great way to find support for people who struggle with depressive symptoms and need extra help navigating life effectively. Medication is often used for the treatment of depression, along with other substance use disorders, so it becomes a somewhat complex issue. Weight gain can be one unfortunate side effect of treating depression. Although the drugs prescribed may help treat symptoms of depression, it can alter a person’s weight, causing an increase over time that is hard to lose, even after switching (or halting) medication. Find out why weight gain happens with some antidepressants and how to navigate this challenge in recovery.
Why it Happens
Drugs for depression help relieve symptoms that impact a person’s exterior life, as well as their interior psychology. When treatments leave extra pounds on a person’s frame, women, especially, can feel devastated and lose confidence. Some will choose to stop medication rather than deal with the side effects. Doctors may prescribe drugs to deal with side effects like nausea but do not discuss weight gain as a side effect. Some drugs make a person’s appetite change and lower their desire or motivation to work out. They may snack more on salty foods or sugary treats and exercise less regularly. Very few doctors are trained to understand this side effect and how it impacts a person’s psyche. Weight-loss programs are not designed to work with people who are gaining weight from medications, necessarily, and promote things that may not help a person who gains weight from prescription drugs. Dietary intervention to promote serotonin’s control over eating requires a small adjustment in diet. Consuming small carbs before lunch, late in the afternoon or before dinner can limit fat content and help a person stick to a daily caloric intake that supports a healthy weight.
Taking antidepressants is challenging because it may take vulnerability to admit the need for help. This little-discussed side effect can be detrimental to a person’s health overall. Weight gain is associated with increased heart and lung disease down the road. Doing any activity is preferable to none, so even if a person has less energy to exercise on antidepressants, it is helpful to work with a treating physician to lower the dose, change the medication type, or find a way to navigate healing in a new way to support overall health. Recovery from addiction is already challenging enough. The person has to be emotionally ready to follow guidelines and engage in exercise. Therapists should not wait until a person experiences depression due to weight gain, on top of their existing diagnosis. It is important to look at all the effects and impact on a person’s life to see if it is time to do something different and more honoring for that person’s health in helping them heal.
Oceanfront understands addiction and mental health issues are complex. Our treatment team is top-notch and is willing to help you navigate the journey however you need. We are located in beautiful Laguna Beach. Call us to find out how we can help you navigate addiction recovery: 888-981-4295