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Losing Weight on Bipolar Medication

By Laura Wallace Henderson ; Updated July 18, 2017

Bipolar disorder is a psychiatric condition that includes major shifts in energy and mood. The severe shifts can make it difficult to maintain a functioning lifestyle. Medictions can help minimize they symptoms and make it easier to cope with this condition. Unfortunately, bipolar medications frequently cause weight gain. Counteracting this common side effect often requires dietary changes and an increase in physical activity.

Bipolar Medications

Bipolar disorder causes a variety of symptoms. During the manic phases, you may experience sleeplessness, poor concentration, racing thoughts and a euphoric mood. The depressive episodes may cause fatigue, irritability and loss of interest in your usual activities. Lithium is a standard medication for treating bipolar disorder and reducing the rate of hospitalizations due to this condition. Other popular medications include valproate, lamotrigine and carbamazepine. Weight gain is a common side effect of some of these medications. Aripiprazole and ziprasidone have the lowest risk of increasing your weight.


Although bipolar medications may lead to weight gain, limiting your calories will help minimize excess weight. Limit your calories to about 500 fewer calories per day than you normally eat. By restricting your calorie intake by 500 calories per day, you can expect a weight loss of about a pound per week. Select nutritious foods that are low in fat, sodium and added sugar. Keep your energy levels from bottoming out by consuming small meals and snacks throughout the day. If you have dietary restrictions, a professional nutritionist can help you formulate balanced meal plans that restrict your calorie consumption.


Exercise plays an important role in your overall health, including your body weight. Select aerobic activities you enjoy, such as tennis, hiking or bicycling. Participate in your chosen activities for at least 20 minutes per day, around four times per week, working up to about 45 minutes per session. If you are unused to exercise, start slow and build up the length and intensity of your activity gradually. Walking is a basic way for many people to begin fitting exercise into a regular routine.


Talk to your doctor before making major changes to your activity level or your regular diet, especially if you are attempting to lose a large amount of weight. Because weight loss can alter lithium levels in your body, it is important to have regular blood tests that measure lithium levels. Avoid using any weight loss supplements or diet aids without the recommendation of your doctor.

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