Obesity & Bipolar Disorder

This article was on PsychCentral.com via Twitter this morning:

If you’re like half the population of the United States, you’ve been worried about your weight at some point recently. That stands to reason as 39% of adults in the U.S. are overweight and 13% are obese. I am one of those people. In fact, when I came across the research on bipolar disorder and obesity, I didn’t want to write about it. It’s too personal.

I spend a lot of time worried about my weight. It’s not just vanity. Let’s be real, vanity is at least one factor for most of us who want to lose weight. I tell myself that if I were thinner people would respect me more, that my weight makes them think I have no self-control or self-worth. Well, the latter happens to be true sometimes because I have bipolar disorder; so there’s that. My focus is also on my health. I just want to feel better overall.

Let’s be clear. This will not be a list of excuses or accolades about accepting your own body. It will not be about fat-shaming. I will present the facts to you and you can do with them what you will, so let’s get to it.

The fact is, more than two-thirds of bipolar patients are overweight. That’s a serious increase over the general population and desperately needs to be addressed. Sadly, at least in my case, it’s not a topic that comes up often in treatment, whether with a physician or psychiatrist/therapist. We talk about mood. We talk about other symptoms.

Doctors will give you the “P.S. This medication may make you gain weight,” but weight in general doesn’t seem to be something that automatically comes up. Other than the high population of overweight patients, why would it be important to discuss the link between weight and bipolar disorder? I can give you four reasons, though there are more that can be discussed.

More on this article:

I can relate to this article, I was at my highest weight while on Olanzapine.  It took me no time to gain 40 pounds, but years to lose it.


17 thoughts on “Obesity & Bipolar Disorder

    • cherished79 says:

      Frustrating isn’t it? Here you have to take a med to keep moods stable, yet gain weight at the same time. Did you get support or were people critical of the weight gain; it’s just that I had my mother’s support, cuz everytime I saw her it would be “Deb, you’re really putting on the pounds” knowing full well I was going through a rough time and on meds. Geesh people don’t get it or know when to keep their trap shut!

      Thanks for stopping by to comment.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Bioman says:

        You are not kidding – family just want you to be how you “used to be”. How they know you. They cannot/will not understand that you have changed and to move with it…Olanzipine is a “dirty” drug by the way and I would be most careful – danger of diabetes. I got myself on it onto Abilify which is Supposed to be weight neutral, but yet again – if you do alot of reading on the blogosphere you will discover this is a fallacy. I’m an NHS patient but I am going to go private whatever the expense. Second opinion.


        • cherished79 says:

          I was taken off Olanzapine many years ago and put on Lithium (another weight promoter), and these questionable docs come to the conclusion now that maybe I’m not BP (taken off Lithium after 10 years), but struggling with Major Depression. No wonder all of these meds weren’t useful, yet pdocs are prescription pad crazy and I’m sure my city is the most BP diagnosed in Canada! These nasty side effects at times are worse than the illness, and now I’m not doing too bad with Wellbutrin, Prozac and Lamictal (all lower doseages).

          Liked by 1 person

  1. hallenterprises132 says:

    I have trouble gaining weight. Had to work to get myself up to 128 pounds before my last MRI was performed. Hate forcing myself to eat when I have a constant upset stomach! Now am back to my normal eating habits. Will probably be back down to 119 in a few weeks. Make sure I eat 3 meals a day with snacks in between. Get plenty of fruits and vegetables. Have always been a threat to my mother’s garden. Tomatoes, cucumbers, and radishes make a good snack when washed off at the well! Have not been diagnosed as bi-polar, just depressed. It’s life!
    Jeanette Hall


    • cherished79 says:

      Your health is a huge struggle, and I applaud you for being so strong for wading through this food issue (it can go both ways with weight), and so happy you’ve adapted a healthy lifestyle with ‘good food’. BP & Depression are serious illnesses, that many people don’t understand, therefore we have stigma.

      Thanks for stopping by to comment. 🙂


  2. brightonbipolar says:

    Reblogged this post because it applies to not only myself but a lot of us with Mental Health issues. I thank you for your bravery and strength in bringing this problem into the light. X


  3. brightonbipolar says:

    Reblogged this on Brighton Bipolar and commented:

    Fascinating article about an issue a lot of us suffer with – weight gain due to Mental Illness and/or the Medications we take to help stabilise our moods.
    I decided long ago that my sanity was more important to me than the way I look or how much weight I gained. My Meds afford me the ability to function on an every day level and achieve basic tasks that would otherwise be too much of a struggle. Societies obsession with being thinner and prettier than the next person is a lot more ‘Insane’ than my own struggles with Mental Health.


    • cherished79 says:

      You hit the nail on the head about weight, meds and body image. While I was going through my bleakest years, the least of my worries was my weight problem and just craved to get out the dreary mess with depression. I was struggling with weight before but really packed on the pounds, so when meds were working, it was still difficult to lose, but knew I had to. I didn’t turn to the weight loss ‘scam’ places, did it on my own and of course took years. My mother was cruel, focusing on my body image instead of my health.

      Thanks so much for commenting, it means a lot. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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