Day 107. Weight increase whilst using psych meds.

Monday, an opportunity to start afresh and put plans in to action for our goals, plus also to repair mistakes made the week before.  I hope everyone had a great weekend, mine was pretty good!.  The page here was nice and busy, we passed 1,000 readers and we formed our very solid team.  Another goal ticked off of the list, awesome!!  Everything is starting to take shape beautifully and I’m very confident about the future of Unspoken Battles.  My mood right now on a 1 to 10 scale, 10 being the best, is a 9.  As good as it will ever get, there will never be a 10 because there’s always room for improvement.  Todays topic is a little difficult to talk about, a veritable minefield if you will, but I’m not one for keeping quiet and totally relish a challenge.  I’ll be as sensitive as I can but it needs to be opened up I think.  My weight since I was a young lad has always been up and down, well it seems to have levelled out now and I’m in pretty good shape.  But especially when taking medications (and I take a lot) I’ve always ended up bursting out of my clothes almost, having to buy more and more in increasing sizes.  So I’m going to talk about this never talked about topic.

Talking about, and tracking weight increase with regards to psychiatric medication isn’t fun. My guess is that talking about and tracking weight gain isn’t fun even for the Doctors. Nevertheless, it seems to me like it’s part of their job. There are lots of “not fun” parts of their job that they seem to manage just fine, but this isn’t one of them. So why is it that psychiatrists don’t talk about or even track weight gain on psych meds?

Weight Gain on Psych Meds.

Most people who have been on psych meds know: weight increase is a reality. Weight gain is especially a brutal reality on antipsychotic meds, which are being prescribed more and more for more and more reasons (sleep, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, etc.). And, of course, you can also experience weight gain on anticonvulsants and antidepressants too.

Honestly, there is a scarcity of data on real-world experiences with weight gain and psychiatric meds. The research I’ve seen almost always underestimates the risk of weight gain when compared to what people tell me and what I’ve personally experienced. Nowl, I like research. I believe in research. But in the case of specific risks and specific pounds gained, it’s hard to find good data because no one really has an interest in getting it. After all, it’s not like pharmaceutical manufacturers want to shine a light on that.

However, incidence of weight gain and weight gain-related adverse effects are generally available when you look at a specific medication.

One of the biggest offenders when it comes to weight gain in psych drugs is olanzapine (Zyprexa; an antipsychotic). Between 5 and 40% of people experienced weight gain on this psychiatric medication (it was dose dependent).

Weight increase on psych meds is a reality for many, so why don’t the psychatrist talk about or track weight gain on medication?

Here’s the thing about being unbelievably ill, you might not notice yourself. You might even not care because you’re too sick to care about anything. That’s what a Doctor is there for. A psychiatrist should be caring for your health when YOU can’t. That’s the whole point.

A Doctor should at least be talking about weight gain on psychiatric medication even if they aren’t tracking it in any way  They should also be ordering blood tests to check things like blood sugar and cholesterol levels that can also be negatively impacted by these medications.

It used to be that women especially are sensitive about their weight but now men are becoming increasingly image conscious too.  This means that many people don’t want to discuss weight gain no matter what. I don’t know if this enters a psychiatrist’s mind or not. But maybe.

What I think it really comes down to is this: psychiatrists only care If you’re working, you’re eating, you’re living and  breathing which to them means that their job is done.

This is incredibly pathetic,  because a psychiatrist should be concerned about your quality of life and your quality of life is definitely impacted if you gain too much weight or end up with high blood sugar or cholesterol.

Now, I don’t believe that gaining half a stone is a big deal and I think that some people overreact to small amounts of weight gain. That said, when you start gaining more and more inches around your stomach, it needs to be discussed and tracked.

Don’t get me wrong, major weight gain might be worth it for you if it’s the only medication that works and it’s giving you a life. That’s totally a personal choice.

It’s also totally possible that the negative impacts on your weight and aspects of your health will actually negatively impact your mental health too. This puts us squarely in a psychiatrist’s purview.

But psychiatrists don’t seem to be taking responsibility for that. They seem very uncaring and hands-off about weight gain on psych meds.

What do you do if the Doctors aren’t or won’t track and monitor your weight….

Unfortunately, this is yet another area where we have to advocate for ourselves. Even though we’re the sick ones. Even though we’re the ones with brain disorders. We still have to be the ones to track our weight gain and ask for blood screening to check our health there too. I hate this. I hate that we have to take responsibility in this way. But we do.

So if you’re on psych meds and experiencing weight gain, you need to:…

Track your weight gain either on the scale (probably best) or by how your clothes fit. (Don’t obsess over it. Weight yourself every week, not every day.)

Decide how much weight gain is reasonable for you. (Remember, we all experience side effects and some weight gain is worth it if it’s keeping you sane, stable and functional. You may have to accept some weight gain.)

Discuss this with your psychiatrist; learn if your expectations are reasonable; listen to what he or she has to say about it.

Make a plan as to how to protect your health — for example, by ordering blood tests every six months.

Consider changing your medication dose or type depending on your test results or weight increase.

And finally, just because your psychiatrist isn’t talking about gaining weight on psych meds doesn’t mean that YOU shouldn’t. Ask the questions and challenge them, this is YOUR body.  We are our own best advocates and we know what we need and want. Communicate this. Be proactive. Because losing weight is so much harder than not gaining it in the first place.  Proactive is better than reactive!

Well that’s all for todays thoughts and thank you all, you beautiful people! Much love!

Till next time.


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