Eleanor Segall

London, UK

©2019 by Eleanor Segall. Proudly created with Wix.com

What I wish people knew about mental health medication and weight gain: for Metro.co.uk

 (image: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)



At age 15, I was referred to a psychiatrist for a serious episode of depression and anxiety (later known to be bipolar disorder). With parental permission, I was put on an anti-psychotic medication olanzapine, to calm my mind. Medication really helps me manage my anxiety – so why are we so scared of it as a treatment? What I didn’t know then, was that olanzapine is one of the worst drugs for weight gain, and although the drug calmed my mind, I put on several stone in weight. As a vulnerable teenager, being overweight was upsetting for my body image and self-esteem. Other people noticed and criticised me too, without realising that my medication was increasing my food cravings (and my portion sizes!). At this time, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder after episodes of depression and mania, leading to psychosis (where your mind loses touch with reality). Not only was I put on many different medications to stabilise my moods and combat depression, but I became an emotional eater too. Food for me was something that comforted me when I was depressed and/or manic. When manic, because I experience racing thoughts and speech and everything becomes heightened, I have less control over my eating. However, once well, it is easier to take that control back through diet and exercise.

I experienced anxiety and bad mood swings around my period and so my doctor put me on an anti-psychotic medication that helps with anxiety, known as quetaipine. I was also started on a new contraceptive pill, Cilest, to help my low moods around my time of the month. It was when I took these two in combination that I began to put on serious amounts of weight again. Before that I was still only a size 14-16, which for my tall height was relatively small. But on that medication I eventually swelled to a size 22. As a young 20-something, this was incredibly difficult for me emotionally. I didn’t feel as attractive and I was still battling cravings at night time. I just wanted to feel like the slimmer and healthier version of myself again. I have coped with the weight gain by knowing this is something I can change when I feel ready, but also the pay-off in taking medication that keeps me stable is huge. I would rather be well and a little overweight than slim and in hospital constantly. In 2014, I had to be hospitalised for a bipolar episode, due to my mood stabiliser not working. It was there that I was treated rapidly with increased doses of quetaipine and other anti-psychotics and tranquilisers including haloperidol and clonazepam. The manic episode meant I couldn’t regulate my appetite and I regularly ate about four meals a day plus snacks due to cravings.

Read more of this article : http://metro.co.uk/2018/01/16/what-people-dont-understand-about-mental-health-medication-and-weight-gain-7231252/?ito=cbshareTwitter: https://twitter.com/MetroUK | Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MetroUK/

 

 

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