Ask The Trainer #36 – Dealing With Depression

Ask The Trainer #36 - Dealing With Depression

QUESTION:

Hi Chad,

Very serious question for you…What do you know about antidepressant medication affecting someone’s ability to lose weight and/or put on muscle mass? One of my friends, who’s a TEENAGER, is being forced to by his father to take said medication and he’s been unable to lose weight ever since. Please share with me what you know about this, and hey maybe you could do an article on this topic as well.

Kayhon


ANSWER:

Kayhon, considering the fact the use of antidepressants has become commonplace in our society, I believe your question is MORE than worthy of being answered on my blog!

I’m sorry to hear about your friend’s situation. It’s certainly not up to me to say if these medications are necessary, as I am not a doctor. I will say I personally feel antidepressants are overprescribed, and even unnecessary in most cases. I’m speaking from experience.

For example, I’ve had doctors push antidepressants on me as a method of managing conditions like insomnia and digestive problems that had absolutely nothing to do with depression.

Now, in regards to your question about the possibility of antidepressants affecting the ability to gain, or lose weight, or put to on muscle mass… Yes, I do believe they can alter these endeavors, at least to some degree, directly and indirectly.

Antidepressants And Appetite

For example, some antidepressants may trigger food cravings, particularly for carbohydrates. This would possibly be a result of certain antidepressants throwing serotonin levels out of whack in some people.

Chad ShawIncreases and decreases of serotonin can cause appetite fluctuations. These drugs may also have some impact on metabolism. Therefore, anything that can affect your metabolism may potentially affect muscle gain, though probably to a lesser degree.

Consider that it’s also possible that as you become less depressed, you will likely regain your appetite (although this would only apply in cases where loss of appetite is a symptom of an individual’s depression). Overeating can also be a symptom of depression, thus causing weight gain. Obviously, this will likely intensify one’s depression, regardless of whether or not they are taking antidepressants.

Lifestyle Matters

The main thing here is that your friend and his father should definitely consider how diet and general lifestyle are extremely significant to good mental health since the body and mind are so closely connected.

What we eat and the type of activity we engage in will affect hormones and neurotransmitters in our brains. Therefore, these factors will heavily influence our moods and how we feel.

I am going to list 6 measures below your friend can use to help with ‘Mind-Body’ balance:

1. Decrease Consumption of Refined Sugar, Grains, and Processed Foods

In addition to being high in sugar and grains, processed foods also contain a variety of additives that can affect your brain function and mental state.

2. Increase Consumption of Probiotic Foods

Foods such as fermented vegetables, blue cheese, yogurt, and kefir, to promote healthy gut flora. Research shows that having a healthy gut is extremely important for both physical and mental health.

3. Get Adequate Vitamin B-12

Deficiency of this vitamin can cause many psychiatric symptoms, from anxiety and panic to depression and hallucinations. This is because B-12 deficiencies trigger symptoms in the nervous system and red blood cells. Although you can attan B-12 in foods like liver and meat, it wouldn’t hurt to take a vitamin B-12 supplement for a little extra reassurance. There are two forms of vitamin B12 you’re likely to come across in supplement form – methylcobalamin and cyanocobalamin. Methylcobalamin is typically the purer, more biologically active version of vitamin B12.


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4. Optimize Vitamin D Levels

Vitamin D is very important for your mood. In one study, people with the lowest levels of vitamin D were found to be 11 times more prone to depression than people with normal levels. The best way to obtain vitamin D is through exposure to the sun. Remember, SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) is a type of depression we know is tied directly to sunshine deficiency. So, it would make sense that the perfect way to optimize vitamin D is through sun exposure, or a safe tanning bed (if you don’t have regular access to the sun). If these options aren’t practical or possible, I highly recommend taking a vitamin D3 supplement daily.

5. Obtain Plenty Of Animal-Based Omega-3 Fats

Many people don’t realize the brain is 60% fat, but not just any fat. DHA, an animal based omega-3 fat which, along with EPA, is essential for normal brain function and mental health. Most people don’t get enough of these important fatty acids from their diet alone. So it’s highly advisable to take a quality omega-3 supplement. Krill oil supplements are among the best.

6. Engage In Regular Exercise

In my opinion, this is one of the most effective strategies for preventing and overcoming depression. Exercise studies show there is a strong correlation between mood improvements and regular exercise. This is mostly due to the mood-enhancing endorphins released in the brain during exercise. Maintaining good physical health and feeling good about the way you look can significantly lower your risk of developing depression in the first place.

My heart goes out to anyone suffering from depression. NEVER ignore this very real problem. If you or anyone you know is suffering from depression, seek help from professionals, and do immediately! Also, look for resources that teach the best ways to identify and correct imbalances of both the mind and body. This will hopefully lead to a much healthier state of being.

Prove ‘Em Wrong,
Chad Shaw

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