Depression and mental health issues are not considered a taboo anymore in India and celebrities like Deepika Padukone and Anushka Sharma have openly spoken about their experience battling depression and coming out of it successfully (Read – Television and Bollywood Actresses who Suffered from Depression). They have also encouraged others to seek help when suffering from depression without hesitating. Irregular sleep pattern, lack of energy, anxiety, difficulty in getting out of bed, irritability, mood swings are some early signs of depression that one should look out for. But do not worry because depression is quite common and you should not shy away from seeking help. Also, never be embarrassed to see a therapist when you cannot handle things on your own or friends or family members are unable to help. A therapist can easily recognize your problem and tell you ways to combat them. Depression requires medical treatment, just like any other ailment, and anti-depressant medications help a great deal to normalize things and stabilize mental health. But one major side effect associated with use of anti-depressants is weight gain. Not all anti-depressants lead to weight gain, but research says most of them do, especially, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and they are the most commonly prescribed anti depressants. Now, how anti-depressant medications lead to weight gain is yet to be properly established. It is believed that anti-depressant medications increase cravings for high-carb foods and affect metabolism, lowering the body’s ability to burn calories. There’s one more reason – during depressive period, most people tend to lose appetite, and once they are on proper medication, they regain appetite and eat better or more. Due to these reasons, people often get concerned about undesirable weight gain and would like to know how they can avoid piling of extra pounds, and even may think about getting off medications, but NEVER stop any prescribed medication without consulting the doctor. Researchers and doctors at the Wharton Medical Clinics in Canada have suggested that to avoid weight gain on prescribed anti-depressants, it would be prudent to get into a weight management program as well. Additionally, here are some useful tips on how to avoid anti-depressant weight gain.
1. Do Pay Attention To your Diet: As we have mentioned earlier, doctors and researchers recommend people on anti depressants to practice clean eating and get on a weight management program to avoid weight gain and also to lose weight. A weight management program such as the Rati Beauty diet that promotes eating healthy and nutrient-dense food with good balance of veggies, fruits, omega-3 fatty acids (the human brain is nearly 60% fat), may help a good deal. Food not only plays a significant role in our physical health, nutritious food has also been found to improve mental health as well. Also, do cut down inflammatory foods like caffeine, sugar from your diet and reduce intake of dairy products.
2. Practice Mindful Eating: When you are trying to lose weight and get healthy in general, instead of cutting down on food, give more importance to eating right. Even if you are eating the healthiest of foods, if you don’t eat them mindfully, you would still gain weight. Mindful eating involves being conscious about the kind of food you choose to eat, the quantity you are consuming and helping you make the right kind of food choices. It makes you more aware of cues from the satiety hormone “leptin” on when to stop eating the moment you are full. Mindful eating is not part of a new fad diet, it has always been the correct practice to eat food, just that we conveniently gave up the practice due to lack of time and other factors. Read about “9 mindful eating hacks to eat right and lose weight” in this post.
3. Portion Control: Portion control is essential to get into calorie deficit and to drop extra weight. Calorie deficit happens when a person consumes fewer calories than those burnt while exercising, resting, or performing basic bodily functions. Portion control involves being aware of the correct amount of food and serving sizes so that one does not overeat. So, do measure your food when you are trying to lose weight. Tips to portion control food have been mentioned in detail on the Rati Beauty app.
4. Detach Emotions with Food: Emotional eating is a situation where one eats to feel good and pleasant, to cope up with trauma, to relieve stress, rather than to satisfy hunger. The food that emotional eaters choose are usually high-fat, high sugar, calorie-rich food full of transfat and other toxic ingredients, extremely unhealthy for the human body. It’s essential to detach food with comfort and emotions so that you do not seek unhealthy food when under stress. Read about “How To Conquer Emotional Eating with Effective Tricks.”
5. Increase Physical Activity: During periods of depression, your energy levels drop down drastically. Low energy levels do not let you get out of the bed. But making a little effort and squeezing in a bit of exercise would help a great deal – not only to keep weight off, it’s great for mental health as well. Exercising releases neurochemicals called endorphins that help elevate your mood and creative a positive feeling in the body. Even brisk walking is great for burning off calories and to improve mental health. It helps in clearing the head and gives a feeling of ease. Listening to podcasts and upbeat music while exercising can improve mood as well.
6. Strength Training: Strength training is a great way to fight depression, as it makes the person working out a lot more confident and capable of doing what they once thought was impossible. Also, including cardio in your everyday workout is a great way to keep depression at bay.
7. Get at Least 7 Hours of Sleep: Please do not compromise on sleep because sound sleep helps to lower the stress hormone cortisol and help one relax. Having good quality sleep also lowers hunger hormone “ghrelin,” and optimizes satiety hormone “leptin.” Sleeping tight also improves metabolism and keeps cravings for unhealthy food in check.
Hope these tips work wonderfully well for you in avoiding weight gain. But always do remember to consult your doctor before making any change to medication and diet.