In the March issue of Marie Claire, a feature story on page 236 asks the sad question “Skinny & Crazy or Fat & Happy?” Yes, it talks about how the most common antidepressants and mood stabilizing drugs come along with a pudgy side effect: weight gain. Which is more important: your weight or your mental health?
It’s a huge question that no one’s really talking about. But most of us may have some experience with friends and loved ones who’ve done a stint or two on one of these weight gaining drugs in order to get the quality of their life back where they wanted it.
With one in four women taking a mood disorder drug at some point in their lives, mental health stigma may be lessening, but what about weight stigma? Experts estimate 25 percent of people gain weight on these drugs though there is no hard data.
Psychiatrists quoted in the story say they see patients who complain about weight gain on a weekly basis. Some women find it unacceptable and want to switch meds in an effort to find something that works without the associated bloating. Others are so glad they have found a solution to their serious mood problems that weight never enters into it.
Experts speculate women may just be eating more once they’re not depressed, but most would argue against that simplicity stating that even though they watch their weight and work out regularly, the weight still piles when taking some of these drugs.
At least Marie Claire asked the question: Do you care more about your mental status or your physical appearance? In other words, if you had to take a drug that has a weight gaining side effect would you, and is happiness and mental well-being more important than skinniness?
While some may think it just an experiment in vanity, the article participants noted they’d gained from 20 to more than 70 pounds, certainly not chump change for their self-esteem or their physical health.
What do you think ladies, fat and happy or miserable, depressed and skinny? I’m left wondering why we’d ever have to make such a choice.