I don't recollect making that recommendation as a general formula for avoiding the weight gain, but may have made that suggestion for a specific circumstance. At any rate, the weight gain comes from the stimulation of appetite, and the only way to avoid it is to control your portions, and exercise more, and be scrupulously attentive to the details of your eating so you don't use food to modulate your moods.. Emotional eating is the big problem, and if you want help with that, go to www.masteringfood.com
Dear wd. Here is my story: I first began taking Zoloft while ill with bronchial pneumonia after having been incredibly depressed for many months. I have been living in quite isolated circumstances with a "partner" (no longer intimate and hadn't been for about a year) who was and is very controlling and has been mostly verbally, but occasionally physically, abusive with me. I saw my GP, told him about my bad "home life" and confessed that I was contemplating suicide. I'd been a very independent-minded career woman and found myself at a dead-end living with an emotionally unstable guy who refuses to get help for himself (but doesn't mind seeing me turned to mush by pharmaceuticals) in a rural area where jobs are scarce and the ones that are available pay poorly. I'd kept trying to find ways out and had reached a point where I felt complete hopelessness. My GP prescribed Zoloft and told me to get out of the place where I was living and away from the relationship. Easier said than done! I began taking 25 mgs of Zoloft once per day, which seemed to have an almost immediate effect upon me. My partner could say the most insulting things to me and I would just shrug -- or laugh. Here's a guy who is a control freak and drinks entirely too much alcohol and he's telling me that my reactions to him are now NORMAL! As though he is an expert?! I can still feel some emotions through the 25 mgs, so on the GP's advice, increase the dosage to 50 mgs once per day. Now I am feeling like a genuine zombie, but my partner thinks I'm fabulous! The problem is, I am now suffering from very unpleasant GI side-effects and, whereas I used to feel hopelessness and a lot of upset about this, what I feel now is APATHY. I eat, because it doesn't take a whole lot of effort. But to motivate myself to exercize is quite a lot trickier. And of course, the original intention, which was to remove myself from a bad situation has also lost the sense of urgency. So, while I've been sick quite a lot of the time and food seems to pass right through me (sorry about the graphic description here, but I'm feel I should be honest)I am still gaining weight. And I'm making ZERO progress at getting clear of this messy "relationship" and getting my life back on track because through the miracle of Zoloft I JUST DON'T CARE. But somewhere inside of me, some germ of common sense remains. So I have begun cutting back incrementally on the dosage of Zoloft. And I've gotten the "electric shock" sensations and yet again more GI unpleasantness. But I also noted this evening that I stood up to my partner when he played the usual drunken mind games with me. He tried to pick a fight and I told him very firmly "Do NOT talk to me when you have been drinking." And I felt resentment, as would any sane adult when some boozed-up guy starts yelling at you as though you are a foolish child. Zoloft, quite honestly, seems to remove motivation to do what is right and necessary for one's ultimate well-being. Where did my backbone go? There's a depressing question. Side-effects like gaining weight? This can be depressing in itself! Feeling generally ill and having to run to the toilet six or eight times per day? Not exactly a positive experience. Remaining in an abusive relationship because one no longer takes the nasty remarks and bad treatment to heart? The alternative would then be to stay on Zoloft, or a similar SSRI, for the rest of one's life! Now how depressing is THAT? I am slowly regaining motivation and networking with friends in another state where I can get a decent job and remove myself from the unpleasant situation I got myself into. Now I understand, truly understand, that SSRI's can be life-savers. But they also seem to cause a different set of problematic reactions that are as bad as the ones they temporarily buffer. I do not know your reasons for taking the Zoloft, but if your reactions to people in your life and/or your current living conditions are a catalyst for your unhappiness, please consider what you're doing to yourself in exchange and ask yourself if it's worth it. Peace at any price, including the loss of your personality? While you may not suffer from great sadness anymore, you will not feel great happiness either. In fact, your emotions will begin to feel as though they belong to someone else. The weight gain is an physical manifestation of the much more insidious changes that are occurring within your body and mind. I wish us both (and anyone else who reads and identifies with this post) the very best.
First, since you may not get to all of this letter, let me ask you a few questions which may get you thinking.
How long have you been on zoloft? Many people complain about its side effects, so if it hasn't been long, you should consider switching now, specifically b/c it has a short time span in your body resulting in headaches when you miss a dose. Some alternatives are prozac which has very low risk of side effects, is very cheap (fluoxetine is generic), and has only a slight risk of gaining weight (typically not much though); You would probably want to avoid Paxil since it is common to gain weight as it increases the appetite for sweets in some people, as well as it is very difficult to get off of due to bad withdrawal symptoms. It's no fun if you ask me. No matter, all antidepressants help someone, you just have to find the one for you.
Second set of questions, how old are you (age plays a factor in metabolism as well) and how long have you been on antidepressants? Is this your first time or have you used them before continuously or sporadically for years/months? If you've used them for a long time, you should know that some meds work for a long time, then they can stop for no reason. Make sure to consider this when you decide which medication you will take.
Third question, do you or have you ever had any type of eating disorder (eating too much, too little, purging, etc.)? If so, you might want to consider if it is somehow involved, i.e., when the meds are working or not working, do you tend to resort back to either of those behaviors? Even though I never had a major eating disorder, my problem is that I associate food with a particular emotion. So when the meds work I eat alot of bad food because it makes me feel good, and if the meds aren't working I quit eating.
Now for some advice. Your mental well-being is the most important factor to consider, not the weight gain. This means you should not skip doses that you're supposed to take, or else you may become depressed again. You must realize that many antidepressants do slow down the metabolism, making a person at a regular weight who participates in typical everyday activities (couch potato or runner) to somewhat overweight when taking the antidepressant but not changing anything else in her life (excercise, food/drink intake, etc.). I'm sorry to say this and I figured you probably don't want to hear it since you didn't mention it, but the only way to successfully take off the added weight is to get on an exercise and nutritional regime that will increase your metabolism while burning more carolies than you consume in a day (you can IGNORE fat, protein, etc. as long as you are making healthy choices overall) and especially eliminate all empty calories from your diet, such as sodas, sugar, etc. unless in very small quantities - your main drink should be water or flavored water like crystal light or plain iced tea - give up coffee if you can as well b/c it will make you bloated and full and you won't eat healthy. Believe me YOU WILL lose weight - I have very slowly, but I HAVE. This is MOST IMPORTANT (the part I have to remind myself of everyday) is to realize the weight is going to take TWICE as long to take off as it did before, especially during the first month or so, and don't feel bad about it. It's not your fault. If you can get past that first month, then you shouldn't have a problem of letting that discourage you. Remember, you are in a process of increasing your metabolism which was slowed by medication, and once you start building muscle you will see the pounds drop off relatively quickly. Keep in mind that 2lbs. per week is a healthy goal, but may be difficult to determine accurately from a scale. So, don't use a scale to determine your losses. If you include weight training (which is phenomenol for increasing your metabolism), you will end up gaining some weight that first month because muscle mass weighs twice as much as fat loss even though it's twice as small. Instead, judge how much you have lost once a week or so using fat calipers or in how your large jeans are fitting (don't advise you to use your small jeans or that dress your trying to get into, it's easier to see the hard work when you have something draping off of you). I also recommend either getting a trainer initially b/c they can share a wealth of knowledge with you on how to make your workouts much shorter while doing more (why do in an hour what you can finish in 30min?) If you can't afford a trainer, there are some really excellent books available tailored to people who are serious about training their bodies. The diet books should definitely be avoided at all costs - not because they don't work, many do, but they are so full of unhealthy overall habits they cannot provide for a healthy body, only a skinny one. Who wants to be beautiful, skinny, toned, and then die of a heart attack because you were on an all bacon diet?? Trust your instincts, if it sounds to good to be true, it IS. If it sounds like it's something you're going to have to incorporate into your life and seems difficult to do - then that is what you need. The first month is always terrible when you go back to the gym. I know, I've had many back injuries that have kept me out for years after I had become truly addicted to going to the gym. So I know how it feels trying to motivate myself to go again, but if you do you will fall in love with it in no time. Also, it does wonders for depression naturally and I would recommend starting a physical fitness routine at least a month before even switching meds. Ask your doctor for ideas and I am sure she/he can help and come up with healthy ideas for you. Skipping doses (I believe Zoloft and Paxil are especially bad to skip, even once, because they only stay in your system for about an hour) or taking yourself off of medication is NOT a good idea. I did that for a while myself and ended up in major depression again during a really bad time of my life. So please, save the agony of a recurrence and only switch meds or skip doses under a doctor's guidance. Also, just a warning for when you are not feeling well, avoid drinking when your depressed, and only drink lightly when you are not depressed because it is the same thing as missing a dose. I learned that the hard way, unfortunately!
I am currently on Zoloft, Wellbutrin, Ativan, Toprol, Neurontin, and some meds for HRT. (Hormone Replacement Therapy)
Recently I finally received a permanent P-Doc..... (Thank whatever omnipotent being) and I asked her to reduce my meds and help me with my increasing Bi-Polar symptoms. I also suffer from P.T.S.D., Anxiety Disorder, Agoraphobia (light case), panic attacks and Dythymia. I have been dealing with mental illness for many years and have tried almost all meds on the market from old school to new.
Recently, my P-Doc reduced my Zoloft from 100 mg to 50 mg. I went through two weeks of terrible withdrawal; nightmares, sweating, anxiety, and so on and so forth. Basically the same side effects I had when I started but worse. Finally I stabilized, but now it is almost time to cut back again. Whew! What a pain in the butt! As far as I'm concerned, Zoloft is an effective drug for depression and anxiety (after you get through the initial side effects) but the one I can't stand is the weight gain!
I was on chemo for a year. When I started taking Zoloft. I never noticed weight gain until a few months after I stopped chemo. (no big surprise right?) Wrong! I gained over 60 lbs in less than 5 months. Most of it in the first three. I went from 175 to 230!!!! Not acceptable.
I guess my point is that, I did not over eat. I did not under eat. I watched what I ate and exercised. I have read a few of the responses to some people