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Sarasmiles

Depression and Antidepressants

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Hi Everyone.  I've been on antidepressants for many years now (yikes...about 20 years) with periodic med changes (Prozac, Wellbutrin, Lexapro) and attempts to go off of them.  I didn't take them when I was pregnant or nursing ( three times ) and I have gone off of them for months at a time, but always end up back on them when my depression feels overwhelming. Currently I'm on Lexapro, 20 mg.  I've gained about 15 pounds since I started taking Lexapro a year ago.  I'm on day 27 of my first Whole30 today, and although I haven't weighed myself, my clothes aren't feeling any looser, and I don't think I look any different.  I love the food, love the lack of stress about what to eat, and love the other non-scale victories, like less joint pain and better sleep.  I'm wondering if I will ever be able to lose weight while I'm on this drug.  I'm also wondering if I'll ever be able to go off of it...and if so, is it possible that diet could actually work to alleviate depression?   Just wondering if anyone else has experience with any of this. 

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Hi Sarasmiles

I have struggled with depression since losing my mom 7 years ago. It has been really bad the last couple of years. I am feeling so much better since starting whole 30, (day 26)I feel less anxiety and just feel happy. so I do think it is helping my depression.

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Hi Sara,

 

Depending on the severity of the depression, I have heard stories of people alleviating some or all of their symptoms.  Depression is one of those fluctuating and highly subjective things though, so I would take it with a grain of salt.  However, one thing that is critical as relates to Whole30 and people who suffer with depression is carbohydrates.  Carbs are directly linked to the seratonin in your brain and going too low carb (as people sometimes can do on Whole30) can be detrimental.  We recommend at least one serving of starchy veggies per day and of course more if you feel like you need it.

 

Also take a minute to read this thread surrounding whole30, carbs and depression.  http://forum.whole9life.com/topic/9938-how-whole30-made-me-crazy-and-why/

 

And here's an article from Whole30: http://whole30.com/2011/12/whole30-depression/

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Thank you, Ladyshanny.  In the past, when I tried the Atkins diet (several times) I repeatedly discovered that without carbs I got more depressed.  Maybe that's what's happening here. I thought since I was eating fruit and sweet potatoes every day, I might be okay, but as of today I'm really not.

 

Today I'll add more starchy veggies. Of course, I'll feel bad if I don't lose weight over time, too...is it possible to lose weight eating this way but including more starch in that form? 

 

I don't want to go back to eating pasta, which was a food with no brakes for me.  But I can feel the cloud of depression looming...

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Thank you, Ladyshanny.  In the past, when I tried the Atkins diet (several times) I repeatedly discovered that without carbs I got more depressed.  Maybe that's what's happening here. I thought since I was eating fruit and sweet potatoes every day, I might be okay, but as of today I'm really not.

 

Today I'll add more starchy veggies. Of course, I'll feel bad if I don't lose weight over time, too...is it possible to lose weight eating this way but including more starch in that form? 

 

I don't want to go back to eating pasta, which was a food with no brakes for me.  But I can feel the cloud of depression looming...

It is completely possible to lose weight by eating starchy veggies.  However you would be even better served by framing your journey in the vein of "how can I be the healthiest and happiest possible" and then weight loss will come.  :)

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I had been taking Celexa for depression for 10 years and just recently (a couple of months ago) realized that it could cause weight gain and insomnia. I was floored, since I thought it was supposed to help with sleep (and I have struggled with insomnia my whole life, but that is another topic). I was also surprised about the weight gain - but looking back over my adult life I made the connection that my "fat" years corresponded with my Celexa years.

 

Like you, I tried to quit several times but always started again when I started to feel anxious and depressed. I am determined to stay off of it this time, though, because I am very uncomfortable in this heavier body. I am hoping that this Whole30 (and lack of Celexa in my body as it gradually disappears) will help me to lose the 15 pounds I want to lose, but I don't feel any slimmer yet (on day 6).

 

I guess the point of my reply is to say that you may not be able to lose the weight while you are on the anti-depressant. I am not medically qualified to say this, of course, but it has been my experience. For what it's worth.

 

Good luck to you - I'd like to know how it goes!

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Hi Ladyshanny and Hollylu (and pechristie, if you're around post whole30!)  Hollylu, did you taper off of Celexa? Has it been hard?  I have been tapering down on my Lexapro since I posted above.  My doctor prescribed Prozac as a "bridge" off of Lexapro.  I'm now on just 5mg. of Lexapro, and 10 mg. of Prozac.  I feel good.  I finished my whole30 January 31, but I've been sticking very closely (though not perfectly) to the guidelines since.  I plan to start another Whole30 March 1st! The only non-compliant foods I've added have been bacon cured with sugar, and popcorn a couple of times. Starting Sunday I will be strict again!

 

In any case, I am feeling quite good, in spite of the taper. I am hoping to keep tapering off the Lexapro until I have no withdrawal symptoms, and then begin the taper off of Prozac, which should be easier, because of its longer half life.   I am a little dizzy in the late afternoons.  I really think though that this way of eating helps with my mood, and may even be helping with my withdrawal.  I feel strong, relaxed, calm and energetic...except late in the day, when I just want to get under the covers for a while and rest. Fortunately I work mostly the hours when my kids are in school, so resting at 5 pm with my kids cuddled up next to me watching TV or reading is doable.  

 

I have a very strong feeling that I am healing both my body and my brain.  I gave up alcohol last November, and being free of that feels like an important part of healing for me.  I like feeling that every bite I eat is nourishing me, helping me recover from years of alcohol use (and occasional mis-use) and also years of taking SSRI medications.  I am loving the psychological sense of recovering, as well as the physical!

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It is completely possible to lose weight by eating starchy veggies.  However you would be even better served by framing your journey in the vein of "how can I be the healthiest and happiest possible" and then weight loss will come.   :)

Well said, ladyshanny! I also just want to throw out there that I've learned through trial and error that low carb does not help me shed fat. Eating starchy veggies twice a day and some fruit once or twice a day with my template meals is the way I've been eating since Jan. 1 and I've been steadily losing fat this way.

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Sara - I did taper off Celexa. My last dose was 5mg every other day. I stopped taking that about 6 weeks ago. I have been feeling very depressed the past few days and even considering trying a different anti depressant (are there any that don't cause weight gain????).

 

I think I need to start eating more starchy vegs.

 

Good luck to you - I hope you have an easier time than I have.

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I just want to throw out a book recommendation here called The Mood Cure. I have used it many times over the years to help myself and others with various mood issues. It was instrumental in helping me finally quit smoking. I think a combo of the Whole 30 way of eating + taking the quizzes in the book to find out exactly what supplements you could benefit from to help balance everything out... Well, I think that could just work wonders for folks. The book is a little bit older, but I absolutely love it. Even just read through the reviews on Amazon and see if if sounds like something you'd like.

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I like that book too, Brewer5.  I have taken the quizzes and tried some supplements in the past.  I remember that I thought Sam-E was helpful, but it upset my stomach.  Right now I'm trying Fish oil and magnesium.  They are both supposed to help with withdrawal from SSRIs.  I'll look at The Mood Cure again. Thanks for reminding me.

 

Hollylu, I'm so sorry you've been depressed.  I've been reading about protracted withdrawal from SSRIs.  Perhaps you are experiencing that?  I have gone back to meds repeatedly after having mood issues as well as physical symptoms of withdrawal.  It can take a long time to overcome the effects of withdrawal.  I would definitely add starchy vegetables.  I have been having some with just about every meal, and I feel much better than I ever did doing Atkins, with virtually no carbs. 

 

Wellbutrin is not supposed to cause weight gain.  I actually lost weight on it...but I thought it made me more irritable.  For me, there's never been a perfect medication, which is one of the reasons why I want so much to manage without any.  Today is my second day with no Lexapro.  I feel a little dizzy and spacey, but it's not terrible.  Early days yet, though, and I am still taking 10 mg. of Prozac.

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I'm about a week into my first whole 30 (March 1st start), and was diagnosed with depression and anxiety last year. Since speaking to my doctor about what I was going through, I've been on quite a few different medications with minimal relief of my symptoms. I'm presently taking Gabapentin, which helps me sleep but makes me feel pretty spacey and a little "lost in time" the rest of the day. I'm hopeful that taking better care of myself nutritionally is a good first step towards better mental and physical health, where medication has really failed me. Has anyone else experienced this trouble with medications in the past, and is also on a whole30?

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Some people need as much as a starchy veg with each meal, see how you feel. 

 

Always ask your doctor for how long they should take to kick in if you're trying something new, some have quite delayed effects (coming or going) so you really need some dates to be monitoring and see how you feel. You should always have a checkpoint date to review with your doctor.

 

The balance is always:

 

reduction of symptoms - side effects = value

 

If there's not enough reduction or too many side effects, the value is questionable.

If you're still searching, have a plan, know your dates, keep a log of how you feel and rank how you feel during your experiments.

 

Try not to alter too many things at once, if you're changing medications and diet and exercise, you won't know what's improving or what's making things worse.

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Sarah,

I've completed my second Whole 30 and I am on antipsychotics which also cause you to gain weight, but I lost 13 lbs both times. My doctor did put me on a drug called Metformin that you may want to look into. It helps to balance out the effects of the psychotropic drugs so that you don't gain weight, although it's known for treatment of diabetes. (I don't have diabetes, but prior to my Whole 30 days, my doctor was quite concerned about my blood sugar.) The psychotropic drugs do cause you to gain weight as they cause constant cravings for food, and coupled with the addictive effect of processed foods, there's no way you can win that battle alone. The medical community needs to become more sensitive to the whole health needs of people who struggle with mental illness. Good luck to you. I hope I was of help.~Susan

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Have you been tested for low thyroid? Since I have been on thyroid meds, I have stopped all antidepressants and anti-anxiety meds. It is still there somewhat, but is now manageable without doctor prescribed meds. I am trying to help the residual effects with magnesium. And if that doesn't work, I am going to ask my doctor about getting tested for MTHFR. And I my self harm has decreased by about 90%. And I just threw away my tweezers so I am aiming for 95-100%. Loneliness seems to be the worst part. I never married because of the self harm and because I did not want to pass it on to any children. And it is difficult for me to make friends. But I have found 2 mental health groups on Meetup,nd that is helping with the loneliness. Actually, the worst part is my food. I did complete one Whole30, but right now am only following it about 50%. I am still down 2 pants sizes.

Sorry for the long post.

My main point is to get your thyroid tested if you haven't. To get the correct testing, check out Stop the Thyroid Madness.

Susan

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