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How to Prevent Weight Gain on Antidepressants

Antidepressants work wonders for many people who live with depression. They help people overcome dark times and feel like themselves again. Unfortunately, antidepressants can also trigger weight gain.

Numerous studies show that prolonged use of antidepressants can make you gain 10 pounds or more, but the weight gain isn’t instant. According to WebMD, weight gain occurs after six months or more of use.

Researchers haven’t identified the main reason why antidepressants cause weight gain, but the most common explanation is that they interfere with appetite and metabolism.

The worst part is, most people don’t know how to deal with this side effect. Their only solution is to stop taking medication when they notice the number on the scale going up.

You can avoid weight gain while taking antidepressants if you follow the advice below.

How to Prevent Weight Gain on Antidepressants

1. Know which antidepressants cause weight gain.

Not all psychiatrists will consider the possible side effect of weight gain when prescribing medication. Therefore, you need to raise this concern, if it’s an issue for you. Ask your psychiatrist to recommend antidepressants that don’t cause major weight gain.

Research shows that some antidepressants trigger more weight gain than others. For instance, Paxil is more likely to cause weight gain compared to Wellbutrin.

It’s also important to consider other side effects, such as low energy levels and sleepiness, which may cause weight gain.

2. Learn to differentiate between appetite and hunger.

Since antidepressants interfere with serotonin levels, experts speculate this effect may increase appetite. Therefore, you have to learn to differentiate between appetite and hunger to avoid overeating.

When you have an increased appetite, you may want to eat, even when you’re full. You’ll also crave specific foods. Whereas with hunger, you’ll be willing to eat foods you don’t like.

3. Make exercise a daily habit.

It’s possible that antidepressants interfere with your metabolism. Use exercise to speed up metabolism and prevent weight gain.

Mainly focus on strength training to increase muscle mass. People with more muscle have a faster metabolism.

As an added bonus, exercise helps ease depression. Even simple exercises, such as walking and tai chi, can make a difference.

4. Maintain a healthy diet.

You’re less likely to gain weight if you make healthy diet choices while taking antidepressants. Follow proven dietary guidelines, such as eating lots of fiber, drinking enough water and eating unprocessed foods.

It’s worth noting that extreme calorie deficits may have a negative effect on your brain chemistry and consequently worsen your depression. Maintain a moderate caloric deficit of 500 calories or less.

5. Ask your doctor to switch your medication.

If you suspect the antidepressant you’re taking is making you gain weight, ask your doctor about switching medications. But before you make the request, make sure your weight gain isn’t being caused by poor lifestyle choices.

6. Avoid low-carb diets.

The keto diet or any other low-carb diet may do more harm than good when you’re taking antidepressants.

For one, low-carb diets can keep you in a bad mood. Secondly, carbs can help boost your serotonin levels. Carbs trigger the release of insulin. This consequently increases the absorption of amino acids and leaves tryptophan in your blood, which is an essential ingredient in making serotonin.

Has taking antidepressants made you gain weight? How did you deal with this tricky side effect?

Images via Getty

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