One of the major concerns about antidepressants is the fear of becoming addicted to the therapy and the fear of gaining weight as a result of taking these psychotropic drugs. Both weight gain and weight loss are among the reported side effects of many antidepressants. The following article deals with benefits and side effects of antidepressants and what an affected person could do in order to avoid unwanted side effects, such as weight gain.
BENEFITS OF ANTIDEPRESSANTS
There are undoubtedly many people who take antidepressants. They can help during depressive phases and make a situation a bit easier. However, everything always has its two sides.
Although antidepressants do not cure the psychological trauma that was once causing the thinking and feeling patterns of a depressed person, they improve brain signal transmission, making a person more capable of experiencing normal life and giving them the ability to feel joy. Antidepressants help people get out of their emotional holes and reduce the risk of slipping back. Antidepressants stabilize the otherwise life-changing routine of people suffering from depression and make them capable to continue a normal life. Psychotherapy can be included into treatment, but if taken seriously, it’s a hard piece of work. This requires a certain resilience and stability, otherwise it can easily happen that the patients feel overwhelmed and then they feel worse than before. A discontinuation of therapy is usually the result and thus ultimately no one is helped or relieved.
SIDE EFFECTS OF ANTIDEPRESSANTS
The other side of the coin, though, is that unfortunately, antidepressants also have unwanted side effects that need to be handled and tolerated. And side effects usually cause an affected person to stop taking therapy. Certain antidepressants such as Mirtazapine can make a person feel very tired and in need of more sleep. That's why they should be taken in the evening. And still, there are reported cases of people sleeping more than 12 hours and still feeling tired during the entire day. A doctor can either prescribe less of the drug (e.g. from 60mg to 30mg) or completely change the therapy.
DO YOU TAKE ANTIDEPRESSANTS?
Most antidepressants and other psychotropic drugs are said to lead to weight gain. It is sometimes frightening in what a short time weight can be gained. And we are not talking about two or three kilograms here. Many people gain up to 10, 20 or more kilos, and this is when the problem arises. Patients are often advised to stay with their medication if it works well for them and if the weight gain is the only problem. As it is already hard enough to find an adequate antidepressant drug that lifts the mood, not infrequently you have to get along with these unwanted side effects such as weight gain. As for other side effects such as tiredness, nausea or dizziness, things seem to be different. With such side effects the quality of life of the person affected is severely limited, there’s usually nothing he/she can do about it, so the change of therapy is quite normal. But in case of gaining weight, you can still do something.
As the body starts to absorb and adapt to the therapy, many processes slow down. Basal metabolic rate (BMR) falls - but the eating habits are maintained. The logical consequence is that the patient gains weight. You cannot gain up to 10 kilos a year or more from these tiny tablets. You can only gain weight if you consume more energy than you currently consume. That's a very simple calculation. As the metabolism usually slows down in people who are taking antidepressants, one should consider doing sports or any other kind of exercise. Sport raises self-esteem and improves the overall health. Sports, especially endurance sports, are also good for raising serotonin levels, a hormone and neurotransmitter that makes us feel happy. Sport has a positive effect on the cardiovascular system and even demonstrably improves cognitive ability (mental capacity). Sport is a true fountain of youth. Nevertheless, sport is not for everyone. And if that is so, sport quickly becomes a burden, a torture.
But if you are a person who enjoys doing sports, give it a try.
CHANGE IN YOUR DIET HELPS WITH ANTIDEPRESSANT-RELATED WEIGHT GAIN
Let's move to the other side, the energy supply. We can change a lot and improve our lives, even when on antidepressants which “threaten” with weight gain. Nutrition is not just about any energy intake. Diet, especially healthy eating is much more than just “energy intake”. At this point, anyone would ask himself if he eats healthy and varied diet. Do you refrain from processed foods, do you include fresh foods (fruits and vegetables) content in your daily diet OR do you spend too much money on sugary foods and processed flours? When on antidepressants which can increase your weight, you can gain up to 25 kg if your diet is unhealthy (as described above). If you’ve going through this or only think of it, it’s easy to get in panic. Can you do anything to prevent it? Yes, of course.
Next time when you’re in supermarket shopping, get fruits and veggies. Eat diverse and varied foods. There are delicious fruits and some vegetables, which are wonderful when consumed fresh. Apples, pears, bananas etc. are best suited to bridge cravings between. But above all, delicious fruits are in the evening in front of TV a very healthy alternative to chocolate and munchies. A healthy and nutrient-rich diet, i.e. a diet high in vitamins, minerals and fiber is not only good for your body, but also your soul. By eating in this way you’ll have the feeling that you respect your body and needs. And if you are a person who loves sports, that will be a great help. Consuming fresh and healthy food will not only give you pleasure, but will boost your self-esteem. Another good way to fight depression, besides fighting the weight-gain side effects of antidepressant pills.