Antidepressants and Weight Gain
~Had a nutritionist analyze my diet (she said it was great)
~Hired a personal trainer for an entire year (my thighs are sore as I type this)
~Worked out harder than I ever have in my life (At least one muscle group is sore almost every day, no lie)
Gained 3 more pounds, and inches everywhere, for a grand total weight gain of 15 pounds since the first week of October 2010. Woo Hoo!!!! You GO with your big bad self, Fitness Friday Girl!
And no, it’s not muscle. I’ve been muscular and lean my entire life, and I promise you…this ain’t what muscle looks like.
To say this weight gain has messed with my psyche is an understatement. Half of my clothes in my closet don’t fit me. I had to buy new shorts and jeans a few weeks ago. For the first time in my life, I have a Mom-Swim Suit. (i.e. tankini and shorts). When I approach a mirror, I don’t see my face–all I see is my stomach, hips and thighs. I don’t want to get a family portrait taken because I don’t want my fat plastered on a Christmas card and then plopped into a frame on my mantle for the next five years.
I’ve taken this to God repeatedly over the last few months. Sometimes I ask Him to show me what I can do to lose this weight. Other times I ask Him simply to help me make peace with my new butt. Sometimes I ask for more discipline to eat better and work out longer and harder. Other times, I ask Him to remind me that this body is only temporary, so my focus should be on the eternal instead.
It’s been all-consuming. And I hate it.
So, about a month ago, while lamenting again to my sweet and patient husband about the size of my hips, he said many reassuring things like:
“You look awesome, honey. Really you do.”
“You are one of the healthiest people I know. Concentrate on that”
“If you lose the 15 pounds, then what? Then you struggle to keep it off for the rest of your life? That’s no way to live.”
“Remember, you are still on the Lexapro.”
SHAZAM!!!!!! The Lexapro!!!!!!!
If you’ve been around my blog for awhile, you know I’ve spoken openly about my clinical depression. ( I talked about it extensively in my series God Speaks Through the Storm.) You also know that for the last 2 ½ years I’ve taken an antidepressant called Lexapro. I’m not at-all ashamed about that. I’m a Lexapro Poster Child. It’s worked beautifully for me, keeping my depression at bay with only a very small dose. It’s been almost like a miracle drug. Just ask my husband—who happens to enjoy his Lexapro-Laden Wife.
I never even thought the Lexapro could be causing my weight gain. I mean, I know it is a common side effect of the drug, but I had been on the Lexapro a full year and a half before I gained a single pound. My doctors never even suggested the connection.
I immediately Googled “Lexapro weight gain” and found myself swimming in a sea of people who had gained 10, 30, 100 pounds on Lexapro. Many of them, like me, working out like crazy to shed the weight only to find themselves continuing to gain.
Suddenly, I was faced with a decision: stay on the Lexapro, stay depression-free, and continue to gain weight while working out like crazy (seriously, dude, what happens if I let up on the working out even a little bit?!?)
OR wean off the Lexapro with the hopes I will lose the weight and still be depression-free.
If I could have flushed every last pill down the toilet that very moment, I would have. But I know enough about this drug to realize I have to wean slowly, or risk complete depression relapse.
So, I started weaning myself off the Lexapro the following day, and continued to wean over the next two weeks.
During that time, I discussed the weight gain with my psychiatrist—the one who originally prescribed the drug. She confirmed that the combination of my going on the 40-Day Fast last summer, the Lexapro building up in my system and my age, created the Perfect Weight-Gain Storm. Her words, “Your body just wants to pack on the weight. You’ve got everything working against you right now.”
Paddling up-stream. Going against the grain. Running against the wind. Use whatever nature-related analogy you want, and you will describe perfectly what my weight struggle feels like. Finally, after months of wondering what in the world was happening to me, this is starting to make sense.
The good news: I took my last dose of Lexapro nine days ago.
The bad news: Since that time, I’ve been experiencing very unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Dizziness, disorientation, nausea, difficulty sleeping, irritability. The longer the symptoms linger, the more I wonder if coming off the meds was such a good idea to begin with. I mean, what if the depression comes back? What if the withdrawal symptoms never stop? What if the weight gain wasn’t from the meds and I continue to gain weight regardless? What if I have to start all over with new meds?
And that brings me to the last few days when God spoke clearly about my fear. And that brings me to today…Where I am, again, laying all of this at God’s feet and asking for some sort of affirmation from Him that I’m doing the right thing. And where I pray I can function depression-free for like EVER. And where I pray the pounds stop accumulating and commence deportation from my body.
Today, with sore thighs and groggy brain, I lay this body down before God and ask Him to speak again.
Thank you for sharing your journey concerning our anti-depressants. I am thankful that so far, you are doing well and am praying that you will be depression free! When we listen to the Holy Spirit and act in faith, He is always there to get us through. You did a wonderful job of morning your Fitness Friday post with your 30 Days of Hearing God. Blessings!
First of all, I wish you'd told me nine days ago to start praying for you… Don't worry, I'll make up for lost time sweet sister.
Second, Praise God for all these ladies hearing God!!
Praying for clarity, direction and freedom… whatever that may look like =)
Sandy,thank you for writing this series. It's been really good. It's cool how your husband made the connection with your meds. I think that was a God-thing. I too will be praying for you in all this.
Blessings to you!
How great to have a connection finally made!! Sorry it's kind of a bummer of one, but at least knowledge is power( I think that is some sort of School House Rock phrase:) and you don't have to wonder. I will be praying for you….anxiety/depression issues run in the family so that is close to my heart. Keep us posted on how things are going day by day….and very clever way to merge FGF and God Speaks!!
May the Lord overwhelm you with grace to walk free from the meds! When I have more time, I would like to share my experiences w/ you.
My post today was hard to publish, I didn't realize how sharing what God speaks to me might be risky…but it is. His message always has been risky for His people I guess… Him bringing me over here for this journey is speaking a message to me. He is growing my boldness. And transparecy. Up on the altar I go…
This is quite a journey you are on,my dear, and I will pray with you and all these friends, for God's specific direction on the issue of the medication. May you find peace in the meanwhile and I pray those 12 pounds also bite the dust. I've been working hard about six weeks and have lost 10 pounds. Very happy about that.
Sandy, I truly believe that the Lord is using you to minister to me. God is using you to bring reconciliation between Him and I. Well, mostly I need to get with the program. God remains God.
I struggled whether to post or not today. Because it has truly been a humbling experience; and a little embarrassing.
I was reading Habakkuk 3:17-19 when the Lord really convicted me. I was faced with a very humbling question….if things don't look the way I want; if life doesn't turn out as I had planned; if I don't get everything I think I deserve or want or think I need; if this or that don't happen…will I still praise Him?
I believe that the Lord has allowed some issues of pain, deep hurts, repressed this and repressed that to come to the surface so we can deal with them. I don't think He's telling me to pretend they don't exist. I think He wants me to trust in Him, regardless of how things look from my vantage point. And that is different from stuffing things down.
God also ministered to me through some teachings today about how gracious and loving He is. So, even though I felt like I was getting a lecture on my being a spiritual brat and sulking because I felt that God had hurt my feelings….He was still kind and merciful and generous with me.
While my issues with God have not been completely defining of me — I'm really a nice, fun loving, many times light and very funny person. I believe they have kept me from having a life of "victory".
It's been those secret strongholds; those feelings of inadequacy; of unlovability; of why not me and in some cases, why me? Just that deep stuff I've held tightly in my heart not able or willing to release to God…wishing He would just give me victory or what I wanted rather than me actually having to lay it down for Him. There is fear, insecurity and trust issues.
But we come back to the cross. He didn't owe me that; He certainly doesn't owe me a wishfest. It's by His grace that I am saved. And He has been very generous and gracious with me. Even now as we are forced to look at some things that I would rather pretend away, deal with on my own, and the questions do I trust Him with them (like I can trust Him with my eternity but I can't trust Him with this) and even if He decides to not do things as I wish or want…will I still praise Him?
I much prefer Him speaking to me about how wonderful I am. But I understand that there is some major growing up that needs to happen.
I once complained to a friend of mine who said, "Ana, you are going through this because God wants to build character in you." And I looked at her and simply responded, "I believe then, that God did not get the memo that I prefer to lack character and backbone. Cause this development of perseverance stinks." We laughed but I was only half kidding. It didn't just stink, it REALLY STUNK!
Today, I got a jolt of Job. I'm going to take God's speaking to me like a big girl!
PS — Hope that you are doing well and that weaning off the meds is getting easier. I know how tough that is. I'm kind of making peace with the 15 lbs I'd love to lose. I'd like to send them packing but it would require more than I have to give right now.
It's so good to get the fears out there and in God's hands. Instead of festering inside me, I can distance myself from them, look at them from another view point, and say to them, "God has not given me a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, a spirit of love." Dwelling on my own fears never seem to help my heart and nobody wins playing the "what if" game. He is mighty. He is big. And you, sweet one, are in the palm of His hand!
Thank you for being honest and vulnerable and willing.
And to think I did all that whining about caffeine withdrawal symptoms!
It's wonderful that you are sharing this … it has enlightened my understanding on other friends' struggles with depression and related treatments/non-treatments. Hang in there girlfriend!
Sandy – I too tapered off a low dose antidepressant regimen. It took months – the key is to slowly, oh so slowly, decrease the dose.
You'll know if you need the drug or not and if so, there are other antidepressants available that just may not cause weight gain for you. Options are a blessing!
As for me – I'm off the drug and with the help of Weight Watchers have lost 13 pounds… and have kept it off for over 6 months!
Hello there, I'm new to your blog…found it through "Glad Chatter" and I am enjoying it thus far. I wasn't planning on adding yet another blog to my news feed, but I felt compelled to add yours. I am deeply moved by your struggle with depression. I am married to a man who deals with bipolar illness, and I can only tell you that it has been a battle. Praise God he is doing great now, but we went through a really rough time partly due to his non-compliance on his medication. Yes, the drugs do cause side effects that can be unpleasant, but not nearly as unpleasant as what happens without them. I will pray for wisdom for you to know what to do with your medication. In my experience of being married to a bipolar spouse, and a believer, I will be honest in saying that I feel the Church in general is grossly ill equipped to deal with mental health issues. A Bible verse and a prayer is hardly enough sometimes. I look forward to following your journey and will be praying for you. Blessings! Kimberly (Mining for Diamonds in your link)