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  • Rebecca Leppard (admin)

Could antidepressant make you hate yourself?

How mirtazapine contributed to my weight gain and thus, self-loathing

In my early twenties I could not fathom why some birth control pills can make a woman fat. I always said, rather condescendingly,

“Surely, it’s the food & drinks you consumes that makes you fat.”

Then life served its revenge like a bitch.

I don’t have to tell my tale (again) because I’m sure everybody is neck deep in depression and anxiety at this point. But last Summer I was prescribed an antidepressant to help me fall and stay asleep or at least stay drowsy when interrupted by my co-sleeping baby.

It works but comes with a hefty price: weight gain.

Mirtazapine works by increasing the activity of mood-enhancing chemicals called noradrenaline and serotonin in the brain. No, this is not an ecstasy pill, it doesn’t make me happy instantly or at all, but rather lifting me up from the gutter that I’m in.

WebMD lists the side effect as: dizziness, drowsiness, lightheadedness, increased appetite, weight gain, dry mouth, or constipation may occur. I have 6 of 7.

  • The drowsiness is the side effect that I am after. I take it at night at about 30–60 minutes prior to the desired sleep time. I notice I don’t clench my jaws anymore and it helps me to stay asleep even when my baby asks for a feed, which happens every couple of hours.

  • The increased appetite is not helped by the fact that I am a good cook. So when I tried giving myself a small I portion, I always had seconds. Yes, I also possess no self control.

  • The lightheadedness happens during the day, mid-morning usually. And it doesn’t go well with my pre-existing low blood sugar and low blood pressure. I find drinking oat milk helps when this happens.

  • The dry mouth at night is a vicious cycle of annoyance. Because it makes me need to drink water which makes me want to pee in the middle of the night and my creaking floorboard would wake up my baby. So I often go to pee with a baby on my lap. Nice.

  • The constipation gave me a pregnant-like silhouette. The bloated stomach and overall discomfort are enough to make me emotionally irritable. So I had not been a desirable quarantine companion to say the least. After a lot of research, I finally found a tablet of aloe vera and calcium to be helpful. It softens my stool and when I do poop, I feel like the entire colon is clean and my buckle goes up a notch. Result!

Plenty of these available in Amazon

Before I found the solution to those unpleasantness above, I told my GP about my weight gain and his response was an accusation that I was too sluggish to exercise (this is without asking me about whether or not I workout) and his only offer was to change medication.

What I did was to change doctor instead. I did not want to go through tapering off of one medication and having to adjust to another medication. No, thank you.

Eventually I was assigned a GP who showed empathy with my case. With her, we came up with a treatment plan that works: sertraline in the morning and a half of the original dosage of mirtazapine at night.

The craving for snack (the British is top notch in its biscuit game) has gone completely. But the weight I gained stayed. This did not help with the body image issues I had since I gave birth late 2019. So every time I pass a reflection of myself, I gag. And every time dear Facebook put up an old photo of me, even when I was already two babies in, I loathe my current self. How could I be so fit just three years ago and look like this now?

Nevertheless, I know now that there is only upwards from here. So despite the never-ending lockdown in England, I put makeup on every morning to trick my mind into thinking I actually have somewhere to be. Whereas in reality, I only have to take my baby on strolls and pick up a bagel in Tesco. I now crave fresh air more than I crave sugar.

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