Depression weight gain can be a serious problem for many people. A number of contributing factors can include stress, anti depressant meds and overeating (that can all lead to a significant weight-gain). But don’t lose hope, recognizing some pitfalls and possible symptoms, along with learning some coping tools, can help you reverse weight gain and get back on track.
Tip#1: Consult Your Physician About Your Antidepressent Medication
A side effect of some anti-depression and anxiety medications is weight gain. If you’ve already eliminated other factors from your lifestyle, ask you doctor if it’s possible to cut back on your prescription dosage or to prescribe an alternative medication that may not affect your weight. Not all medications effect all people the same way. If you’re unable to switch, explain your concerns to your physician and ask if it’s possible to work toward scaling back your dosage slowly (to find an effective dosage level that doesn’t increase your weight at the same time).
Tip #2: Learn Stress-Reducing Techniques
Stress can cause the body to secrete a hormone called cortisol that regulates both blood pressure and metabolism. It should be temporary, but during constant states of stress the body will over secrete cortisol causing unwanted weight gain and hindering the immune system.
During bouts of depression, you’ll often become over-stressed by daily responsibilities and and have trouble eliminating that stress. Learn some stress-relieving techniques like deep breathing, meditation, and yoga stretching and relaxation to compensate. Physical exercise is also an excellent stress-reducer that will double as a metabolism booster–a great way to get twice the benefits from one activity!
Tip #3: Keep a Food Journal
Depression can often lead to a marked increase or decrease in your appetite. You may feel the urge to eat more frequently or have cravings and find yourself packing on the pounds unexpectedly. It can also lead to binge eating since you’re searching for something to fill the void in your life. That’s where a food journal will come in handy.
Keep a daily, written record of everything you eat from snacks to meals. Evaluate your journal at the end of each day to see if your food intake has increased, and whether your food choices are healthy or not. Use the journal to make healthy lifestyle changes that will put you in control of your weight.
Tip #4: Plan a Nutritional Low-Cal Meal Schedule
Food can have either a positive or negative impact on your psychological health as well as physiological health. Foods high in fat, sodium and sugar can slow the metabolism leaving you feeling lethargic and low on energy. High sugar intake can even produce unhealthy spikes and crashes in glucose energy levels (that don’t help depression).
Short-circuit those pitfalls by planning six to eight small, nutritious meals a day instead of three large ones. Planning will help you take control of your eating instead of falling victim to urges, and will also give you the opportunity to pack those meals with healthy nutrients that will keep your energy high and weight low!
Be your own best health advocate with your doctor and have her help you treat your depression in ways that are healthy for your body’s specific needs.