Bipolar Disorder and Weight Loss
Many people with bipolar disorder are concerned with their weight; mostly because many of the medications prescribed for the disorder cause you to gain weight. This can be very discouraging, especially if you have been told that there is nothing you can do about it.
One thing you should absolutely NOT do is go out and get diet supplements that promise you can lose weight “no matter what,” or make other false claims. If you have bipolar disorder, these supplements can be very dangerous for you. They can interfere with your regular bipolar medications, they can cause you to go into a bipolar episode, and they can even cause you harm.
You might feel discouraged because of the weight gain from your bipolar medications, and it might even affect your self esteem. You may even become desperate to lose weight; however, over-the-counter weight loss supplements are not the answer.
Then, you might ask, what is the answer? What hope do I have of losing weight? Following are some suggestions:
- Talk to your doctor
The first thing you need to do before beginning any weight loss program is talk to your doctor and/or psychiatrist. You need to tell them that your weight is bothering you, and that you want to do something about it. They may even have some suggestions for you that might help you. If you don’t bring this up to them, they cannot help you with it, since they are not mind readers. Wanting to be thinner is also an ongoing subject that you can work on with your therapist, as it involves more issues than just weight loss; for instance, issues involving self-esteem, self-image, etc.
· Balance your medications
This is something you cannot do by yourself. You must do this with your doctor or psychiatrist. There are some medications for bipolar disorder that cause you to gain weight, and others that cause you to lose weight. With your doctor or psychiatrist’s permission and help, and if appropriate for your type of bipolar disorder, you may be able to balance your medications so that your weight can remain more stable.
Exercise is recommended for people who have bipolar disorder as a part of a healthy treatment plan, usually at least three times per week. However, you may already be exercising, and are still not losing weight. This does not mean that exercising is the culprit, however. Without exercise, you could gain weight. So the exercising you are doing may be keeping you from gaining more weight and maintaining the weight you are. Any way you look at it, exercise should still be a part of your healthy lifestyle.
· Healthy Diet
Starving yourself is not the answer! Neither is any extreme diet that you may have read about or heard about from someone else. The main thing is that your diet should be a healthy one. Talk to a nutritionist, nurse, your doctor and/or psychiatrist. They are very aware of this problem with bipolar medications. Some even have literature they can give you. One of the keys to managing a healthy diet is to make it within your means to do. If it is filled with things you don’t like to eat, you won’t stick to it, will you? Make room in your diet for a once-in-a-while “cheat.” It will help you to stay on your diet, if you don’t feel guilt and shame for “cheating.” Definitely avoid “fad diets,” as they come and go. You need something long term. Think of it more as a healthy eating lifestyle than a diet, and you will be more apt to stick to it.
· Dietary Supplements and Vitamins
Dietary supplements and vitamins can help you feel good in addition to your prescribed medication; however, they must NEVER be taken instead of your regular medication for bipolar disorder. Most doctors and psychiatrists recommend taking a daily vitamin to supplement your diet, because these days our diets are sorely lacking in certain vitamins and minerals that our bodies need. However, DO NOT take any dietary supplement that claims to help you lose weight, as this can be dangerous for you.
- Use incentives
Use incentives to help you to lose weight. Buy that outfit you’ve been wanting that only comes in that “one size less” than what you are now. Display it in a prominent place, like hanging from the top of your closet door. Seeing it frequently will help you to remember your weight loss goals and be an incentive to keep going, even when your progress seems slow.
It is possible to lose weight even if you have bipolar disorder. However, it will most likely, be a very slow process. The key is to be consistent – keep eating healthy and exercising. Live a healthy lifestyle. Be a positive person, and believe in yourself and your ability to meet your goals.
Anyone that promises you a “quick weight loss cure” is not being realistic nor probably not truthful. The point is, don’t give up, and don’t be discouraged. It will be worth it in the end.
David Oliver is the nation's leading experts on helping and supporting a loved one with bipolar disorder. You can get learn about many of David's little known, yet effective strategies to cope and deal with your loved one's bipolar by clicking here right now. View all articles by David Oliver