Learn the Pros and Cons of Lexapro
Lexapro (or escitalopram oxalate) is a medication prescribed for depression and anxiety. It relieves the symptoms of both conditions by altering the levels of the chemical serotonin in the brain. However, it is possible to experience side effects with Lexapro. Some people report weight gain, although it is hard to tell whether the medicine or other factors are cause since the medication affects different people in different ways.
Factor in the Complexities of Body Chemistry
Many medicines prescribed for mood disorders, such as depression and bipolar disorder, can promote weight gain. Researchers have not been able to pinpoint the reasons for this, but they believe it has to do with hormonal changes in the body in response to the medication. These medicines may change the way the body handles insulin, a chemical secreted by the pancreas that helps process the food we eat.
When Feeling Better Makes you Hungry
Ironically, another way that Lexapro might affect weight gain is by removing the symptoms of depression, including loss of appetite. When a person with depression starts to feel better, he may find that his appetite returns full force. Increased eating naturally leads to weight gain. Whether the weight gain is caused by changes in body chemistry or by an improved appetite, people taking antidepressants such as Lexapro face a dilemma. It is great to feel better, but hard to see the pounds add on.
Modify Your Diet to Compensate
If you notice weight gain while taking Lexapro, modify your diet. Add more whole grains, fruits and vegetables into your meals. Switch to low-fat or skim milk and low-fat dairy products. Stick with lean meats and fish, and cut out foods high in fat, sugar and salt. If making dietary changes is a challenge for you, ask your health care provider or a nutritionist for ways to maintain a healthy weight.
Exercise the Pounds Away
Another way to combat weight gain is by exercising regularly. Aerobic exercise, such as walking or swimming, is usually best for weight loss. However, exercise that promotes muscle tone, like strength training or yoga, can also assist with weight management. A general recommendation is to exercise for 30 minutes a day, five days a week. If you are having trouble getting started, walk a few minutes a day at first and build up from there. Look into local gym options or consider enrolling in a yoga or Pilates class. If having a buddy would help, recruit a friend to exercise with you.