Losing weight while on anti-depressants is extremely hard. Many anti-depressants, including Celexa, Zoloft, Prozac and Seroxat/Paxil commonly cause weight gain and some people gain as much as 7-10% of their initial body weight.
While you are taking these medications it can be very hard to keep the weight down. Obviously careful eating and regular exercise will help, but many people find that exercise and diet are not enough to actually lose the weight they put on. Probably, the only sure-fire way to lose weight is, under your doctors supervision, to come off the drugs or at least reduce the dose.
If you or your doctor are not sufficiently happy with your progress in terms of the depression or anxiety that the drug was treating, then you will have to decide whether short term weight-gain is more or less important than your mental well-being. You could also see if your doctor would be prepared to move you to another anti-depressant, Serotonin–norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) are not so frequently associated with weight gain however the doctor may not be prepared to prescribe these due to cost or may not feel they are right for your symptoms.
If you do stop taking antidepressants altogether then losing the excess weight you gained becomes much easier. Lots of people make one common mistake: they think that coming off the drugs is all they need to do. Wrong.
Coming off the SSRI’s is just the first step. Normally, your metabolism will return to normal so you won’t put more weight on, but the weight you have gained can be stubborn. Over time, it will decrease on its own but that can take months and years depending on how much weight you gained.
You have to face it, there are no short cuts. Losing weight will take some effort on your part. You should:
Cut down on calories, but not too drastically. You don’t want to loose weight quickly as it has a habit of coming back. Make a note of your average daily food intake and reduce the number of calories by about ten percent.
Then you have to start an exercise regime and make sure you include plenty of cardiovascular exercises. Running and swimming are best, but cycling and walking are also good. It is important not to overdo it as you will just born out or lose motivation. Start of just with short exercise periods you can cope with and move up gradually until you can exercise for about an hour. There are some good books on the subject The Eden Diet: You Can Eat Treats, Enjoy Your Food, and Lose Weight is a best seller in the USA. You Can Be Thin: The Ultimate Programme to End Dieting… Forever is a best seller in the UK.
The other useful thing is to add some anaerobic exercises which build muscle. Although muscle is heavier than fat it acts to increase metabolism, meaning you burn more calories and therefore more fat!
It’s hard to know how long weight loss will take as everyone is different. But you have to be patient.
It would be great if people shared their personal experiences below.