A major side effect from antipsychotic medications is weight gain and metabolic issues. These can be frightening to deal with, especially if you’ve never had an issue with weight gain before. Suddenly, it’s as if your body is completely out of whack. Many times the side effects alone can be worse than the actual illness, and, in those cases it’s probably wise to talk to your doctor.
Weight gain, though, is a tough side effect to deal with. Millions of Americans struggle with their weight on a daily basis, and adding that pressure onto an already fraught mental illness probably isn’t the greatest thing. Seeing as how I’ve been dealing with mental illness on my own for almost 12 years, and having ballooned and deflated a number of times, I wanted to put together some advice on dealing with weight gain as a side effect.
I think the most important thing you have to remember is that you don’t have to deal with the weight gain in lieu of not being crazy. There are lots of antipsychotic medications out there, many of which don’t include metabolic side effects. Of course there may be other side effects, but finding your right cocktail of meds is part of the experience of living with mental illness. It sucks, I know, but if you keep trying eventually you’ll find something that, at the very least, is tolerable.
I think the first step in combating medication weight gain is talking to your doctor and making sure you’re on a med that doesn’t screw with your body like that. I realize sometimes you don’t have a choice, though, and in those cases there are other things you can do to get a handle on the weight gain. Mainly, you have to watch what you eat. Diet, I think, is a bigger part of losing weight than exercise, though both are beneficial.
With technology, keeping track of what you eat isn’t too hard anymore; there are numerous apps and websites dedicated to making it as easy as possible, and many times these services offer different resources for learning more about healthy eating and lifestyle.
I’d say 80 percent of losing weight is your diet, so getting that in check and being careful about what you eat can make waves in your efforts to combat weight gain. As for exercise, just keep it simple, like walks around the neighborhood, taking the stairs, or walking to appointments. It doesn’t have to be hard to increase your physical activity and, combined with an increased focus on what you eat, things should get better.
I also totally realize that when you’re struggling with getting out of bed in the morning or any number of other mental illness related struggles, it can sound damned near impossible to survive AND think about losing weight, and I get that. I’ve been there. In that case, just be kind to yourself and do it when you’re ready. Overall, though, new meds might work, but if they don’t just try to eat right and get exercise where you can. With any luck, that should help a little bit.