Another load from the Duh Truck

I just got this press release yesterday (article abstract here):

Piscataway, N.J. – June 2, 2008 – A major review in Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice reveals that research indicates people who are obese may be more likely to become depressed, and people who are depressed may be more likely to become obese.To understand the potential links between obesity and depression, researchers led by Sarah M. Markowitz, M.S., examined the correlational data that suggest a connection between the conditions and found evidence for causal pathways from obesity to depression and depression to obesity.

People who are obese may be more likely to become depressed because they experience themselves as in poor health and are dissatisfied with their appearance. This occurrence was particularly prevalent among women and those of high socio-economic status.

People who are depressed may be more likely to become obese because of physiological changes in their hormone and immune systems that occur in depression. Also, they have more difficulty taking good care of themselves because of symptoms and consequences of depression, such as difficulty adhering to fitness regiments, overeating, and having negative thoughts.

Treatments such as exercise and stress reduction can help to manage both obesity and depression at the same time. Potentially, dieting, which can worsen mood, and antidepressants, which can cause weight gain, should be minimized.

“The treatment of depression and obesity should be integrated,” the authors conclude. “This way, healthcare providers are working together to treat both conditions, rather than each in isolation.”

This is not the first time that a correlation between fat and depression has been posited, but it’s remarkable because the researchers actually seem to have noticed that the causality could run both ways. Instead of treating this as yet another danger of fat, they’ve (rather miraculously) said “wait a minute, maybe fat stigma is depressing. Maybe the stress of being fat in a hostile culture can either mimic or trigger clinical depression.” And how much do I love “experience themselves as in poor health”? They don’t actually say here that fat people ARE in poor health; instead, they acknowledge that fat people are constantly being told they’re in poor health, which as we know is a bigger health risk than being fat.

Once again I am convinced that FA is so much healthier for the general population than diet culture, no matter what our detractors might say. So fat leads to depression and depression leads to fat, huh? Well, what’s more likely to throw a wrench in that cycle — the people telling you that you will be ugly, unlovable, fatigued, ill, and not worth caring for unless you become smaller? Or the people telling you that you are worth caring for, worth nourishing, that you can participate in mood-elevating exercise for the joy of it instead of for punishment, that it’s possible for you to have a sense of health and well-being in your body, that your body is not a death sentence (any more than anyone else’s)? Our way might not wind up with fewer fat people, but we’re sure as hell going to have fewer depressed people. And isn’t that more important, really?

Well, that’s the problem — most people, including the researchers, don’t seem to think so. To be fair, the study is also remarkable because it calls for minimizing diets, “which can worsen mood” (ya think?). But what’s with the call to reduce antidepressant use? This is grievously irresponsible. Rio put it best, in her “Fat is a Symptom, Not a Disease” series:

I think it is absolutely ridiculous that anyone would be so upset over the associated weight gain, when the drugs often make a person feel as if his or her life is worth living again. I’m tired of hearing the fatophobes shrieking about it, trying their damnedest to drag down those who have finally been able to stand up again, just because their bodies are different.

So tell me, fat-haters, are you really so shallow and juvenile that you would rather see someone institutionalized than fat? Hanging themselves instead of fat? I’ve really begun to wonder if the fat-hate is not just about fat, but about an excuse to be misanthropic to anyone who is socially vulnerable. After all, the mentally ill you used as a punching bag in ages past have now become functional fat people, so whom are you going to punch in their place?

Of course, if someone doesn’t need antidepressants, and can get by with a new attitude (*cough*FA*cough*), decent nutrition for a change, regular exercise, a supportive therapist, etc., I am all for that. I’m sure that not everyone who’s depressed over being fat is suffering from a neurotransmitter imbalance; many are just reacting rationally to a hostile environment. And even some of us who do have neurotransmitter problems can get by fine most days without drugs, and overall I’m in favor of that, at least for me (I just don’t have the free time to embark on the medical odyssey of Finding the Right Antidepressant, since the wrong one is often so catastrophic, and meanwhile I can get along without them). I am not saying that anyone who exhibits symptoms of depression should be medicated. But to halfway acknowledge with one hand that fat stigma might be the problem, and on the other hand to discourage medication because it might make people fat? That is egregious victim-blaming, tantamount to saying “well, people can be cruel, and the best way to avoid that is to fit in perfectly.” If people are left unmedicated, it should be because they don’t need medication or prefer to have it as a last resort — NOT because it might contribute to a body that invites stigma. I appreciate the desire to reduce the levels of body-related stress that fat and depressed people are experiencing, but refusing to treat the stress because it might exacerbate the stressor is just nonsense. It’s like handing out plastic surgery to combat teenage angst.

In any event, this is a good reminder: While you’re exploring intuitive eating and exercise for its own sake and all that physically healthy stuff you thought was off-limits because you were fat, don’t forget to keep an eye on your mental health too. It’s reasonable to feel burdened sometimes, by expectations and stereotypes and mistreatment, but if you can’t climb out from under the stress (about your body, or about anything in your life), don’t neglect self-care in that regard. In the U.S., many cities have women’s centers that offer sliding-scale counseling, if you don’t have access to a therapist. Remember that stress and depression, whether or not it can make you fat as these researchers claim, is certainly more unhealthy for you than fat itself.

109 thoughts on “Another load from the Duh Truck

  1. I just don’t have the free time to embark on the medical odyssey of Finding the Right Antidepressant, since the wrong one is often so catastrophic, and meanwhile I can get along without them.

    Word.

    I was trying to explain this to a friend just yesterday as she was expressing some concern over my current mental state. You put it much better than I could.

  2. The statements on the idea of obesity and depression as a start are really well written. Usually attitudes about obesity are couched in scientific terms instead of taking a truely objective stance. What I would love? Individuals who actually happen to be obese running these experiments, taking any stigma towards obesity completely out of the picture.

  3. I would like to hope (though I haven’t read the full article) that discouraging overuse of antidepressants is a more general strategy that is encouraged for other reasons than just weight gain. (Of course it is still problematic, and smacks of puritanism, to for any reason tell people who need help that they should feel guilty for getting it.) But overall, despite that misstep, I am thrilled with the admission that diets have a negative impact on mood and that societal pressures on fat people can exacerbate depression (and, as you said, negatively impact health, which is almost criminal especially when the censure and scaremongering that can make you less healthy are coming from actual health care professionals).

    I seriously think the stuff you guys are doing here is making a difference, and that perhaps the tide is finally turning–I can’t really imagine too many mainstream articles focusing on those issues 10 years ago. It would have been more along the lines of trying to force the findings to show some objective physiological association between fat and depression. Not that this isn’t still done today, but this review is a start.

    For myself, somewhere along the line I did come to the point of truly understanding and believing that exercise does positively impact my mental health, and therefore I need it as much as I need my antidepressant. It sure makes a much better and less misguided motivation than weight loss. Or, you know, I could have just listened to all that HAES stuff that you guys have been telling us about all along. :)

  4. Ooh, Spirophita, that is an excellent idea. Any Shapelings who still don’t know what they want to be when they grow up (and come to think of it, that includes me at 31 and after 2 degrees), listen up and consider! We need more of you in the research community.

  5. This study makes me think of the studies back in the Victorian era that concluded that womens’ ovaries and brains could not develop at the same time, ergo it was a bad idea to educate girls.
    Or the senator who RECENTLY stated that no money should go towards Autism, because Autistic people were just going to end up as wards of the state, anyway. (Oh really? Tell that to all the scientists, artists, lawyers, and GOVERNORS OF CALIFORNIA out there who have been diagnosed with Autism!)
    As a mom of 2 kids with Autism, I take exception to this. As a RESIDENT OF THIS PLANET, I find it really disgusting that we’re denying people medication they need because it may cause them to be fat. And that it is acceptable to demean people who look different than what we deem to be “attractive.” And that the hatred is couched in phony “concern,” for the health and well-being of “those poor fat people.”
    Rod Serling commented on it 50 years ago in that classic episode of “The Twilight Zone” where the norm was to have a pig-like face, and anyone who didn’t look that way was an outcast, and sent away. Too bad more of us haven’t gotten the message.

  6. My mother in law remarked last night that it was unfortunate that I gained weight while trying different antidepressants.

    My “It’s better than eating a bullet” kind of shut her up cold.

  7. I hate reading press releases of scientific articles because they frequently do not come to the same conclusions that the researchers did.

  8. So maybe we should discourage the use of fattening antipsychotics, too. Because who wouldn’t want to exchange their fatness for a good old psychosis, right?

  9. My mother in law remarked last night that it was unfortunate that I gained weight while trying different antidepressants.

    My “It’s better than eating a bullet” kind of shut her up cold.

    Right fucking on.

  10. What I would love? Individuals who actually happen to be obese running these experiments, taking any stigma towards obesity completely out of the picture.

    I would love to see that, too. However, speaking as a fat academic who is trying to do fat positive stuff, it’s hard. I’m constantly fielding the “you just want to justify your fat ass” type attitude (though only a few actually come out and say it). My choice of topic along with my research is constantly questioned. With excellent research and hard work, I’m slowly winning them over, but my work is closely scrutinized.

    Anyone else noticed that the academics who get the most notice are slender males (Gaessner, Campos–though his weight fluctuates, Oliver)? Not that I blame that on them, but on our society. I’m delighted they are doing the work they do. But, people don’t immediately assume that they are trying to make excuses like they tend to do with those of us who are fat. I think it will change as more fat individuals enter fat studies and as more people learn about fat acceptance.

  11. Thank you, FJ. As a person with BPD who is having a bad day today (and I’m non-medicated), I really needed to read something like this. Today, of all days. (It doesn’t help any that I got a new troll on my blog today, either.) Regardless of why I’m depressed, and regardless of why I’m fat, seeing in black & white someone who validates my thinking is a big help.

    And Alyssa, WTF?!?! OMFG. You know, I’m really glad I don’t live in the U.S. anymore. Between the fat-hating fear-mongering and the continued persecution of people with special needs, it’s just not a place that I want to be right now. It’s sad, too, y’know? I almost feel like a traitor having said that, but it’s just not an environment I think I – and my autistic daughter – need to be in. That guy needs to meet my mother’s clue-by-four, and quick.

  12. “A fitness regiment”.
    That’s a little slip showing the attitude of the war on fat, actually…. Left, left, left right left…. C’mon soldier, fight yourself.

  13. The full text of the article seems to be available (that is, I can see it, and I don’t seem to be signed in through my school, so I assume it’s public).

    Unfortunately, with the antidepressants bit, it looks like the press release was pretty accurate:

    Antidepressant Medication. Just as dieting may negatively impact mood, the pharmacological treatment of depression may negatively impact weight loss. There is a large body of literature suggesting that antidepressants, particularly tri-cyclic antidepressants (TCA) and monoamine-oxidase inhibitors (MAOI), but also selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI), cause weight gain (Fava, 2000; Golden, 2004; Gupta, Tiller, & Burrows, 2003; Sussman, Ginsberg, & Bikoff, 2001). This is a major reason for nonadherence to treatment in the population of depressed individuals not selected by weight (Deshmukh & Franco, 2003; Fava, 2000; Golden, 2004). While inconvenient and unpleasant in normal weight individuals, the side effect of weight gain is medically unsafe for obese individuals (Fontaine et al., 2003).

    There is evidence that SSRIs have preferable side effect profiles with respect to weight gain in comparison to TCAs and MAOIs, and that some SSRIs are preferable to others (Fava, 2000; Fava, Judge, Hoog, Nilsson, & Koke, 2000; Sussman et al., 2001). In fact, although they are associated with weight gain in maintenance treatment, some SSRIs, such as fluoxetine, may induce weight loss in the acute phase of treatment (Fava et al., 2000; Sussman et al., 2001). There is also evidence that the SSRI sertraline may be useful as an adjunct to cognitive-behavioral weight loss treatment in obese individuals with and without mood problems (Ricca et al., 1996).

    As of yet, no studies have examined the simultaneous treatment of both depression and obesity. So far, only changes in mood in the context of obesity treatment have been studied (e.g., Clark et al., 1996; Gladis et al., 1998; Karlsson et al., 1994; Linde et al., 2004; Nauta et al., 2001; Sherwood et al., 1999). Practitioners should encourage the patient to engage in behaviors that will improve both conditions, such as stress management, exercise, and potentially lifestyle modification in lieu of simply dieting or just taking medication.

  14. Just to point out where the weight gain psych med thing comes from. Anti-depressants, with the exception of Remeron, don’t fit in this paradigm, but anti-psychotics, which are widely used in psychiatry, not just for psychosis, make you gain weight like you wouldn’t believe AND mess with blood glucose in very unhealthy ways. Zyprexa will make you gain 100lbs in a year, for example and one of the known side effects is Type 2 diabetes. We’re not talking 10lbs here. This induction of metabolic syndrome _is_ a significant health issue, imho.

  15. I’d rather see FA people, whatever their weight, enter research; after all, just because someone’s obese doesn’t mean they don’t have fatphobia.

    And I remember that Twilight Zone, it was a real zinger.

    That’s just an ignorant remark about Autism from that Senator, many Autistic people are self-sufficient; and more will be with appropriate therapies. Plus, we’re starting to be able to reliably diagnose it earlier and earlier, when therapy can have more effect.

  16. I think comments with links often get sent to moderation limbo; at least I think I’ve noticed that.

  17. This reminds me of how, whenever I’m with someone and we’re eating “bad” foods and they say “oh we can pretend this thing is healthy, right? That makes it ok?” I end up saying some variation of “it IS healthy, because it’s delicious, and eating delicious things is good for your mental health. And mental health is health.

    Well, assuming I say anything. Some days any response at all would turn into an ugly rant about the diet food industry, so I just enjoy myself guilt-free.

  18. Here are a couple of press releases about early diagnosis of autism, they’re getting down to as early as nine months! Can you imagine how much we can help a baby, given how much difference starting as a toddler vs a kindergartner makes? Plus, the whole we can detect it at nine months blows away the concept that the MMR vaccine causes it.

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080520112133.htm

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080130140127.htm

    Umm. Sorry if this is a hijack, one of my nephews is a HFA and I get very excited when I see how much progress in understanding this condition is being made.

  19. I think comments with links often get sent to moderation limbo; at least I think I’ve noticed that.

    Yup, I had 2 comments get sucked into the black hole of the spam filter yesterday, and they still haven’t appeared. Both of ‘em had links.

  20. WOOP! WOOP! PEDANT ALERT!

    “…difficulty adhering to a fitness regiment…”

    I know, that bugged the shit out of me. But then it kinda made me think “fitness regimen? I can’t even SPELL it! Nyuk nyuk!”

    Off to look for disappeared comments.

  21. I’d rather see FA people, whatever their weight, enter research; after all, just because someone’s obese doesn’t mean they don’t have fatphobia.

    Oh hell yeah, and just because they’re thin doesn’t mean they do.

    Look, I’m all for finding possible alternatives to the “here, take some pills and go away” school of treatment of all forms of depression (and making those treatments more available and affordable; don’t get me started on that). Pharmaceutical antidepressants need not always be the first line of treatment, especially if the depression is exogenous (i.e. has a specific external cause) or is mild, and I definitely have some concerns about people being on them forever (long-term side effects, building up tolerances, etc.)

    But I’m with you, FJ (and Naamah, RAWK); I don’t see the point of “we have to avoid giving you drugs at all costs because they might make you gain weight.” I mean, drugs for schizophrenia make you gain weight, too; you want people to DC those?

  22. And DGMS about the autism thing either. The curebies make me nervous with their wanting to standardize everyone’s behavior, but writing off everyone on the spectrum pisses me off even more.

  23. occhiblu, bummer on the antidepressant/fat thing. Thanks for the further clarification.

    I am not pleased with the blanket statement that weight gain is “medically unsafe for obese individuals.” I also love how “lifestyle modification” is recommended as a behavior “that will improve both conditions”–but definitely not dieting, oh no. Disingenuous code alert. In fact from what I’ve heard, it would be quite unlikely for “lifestyle modification” of any kind to budge weight gained as a result of SSRIs in particular, plus there is the overall ineffectiveness of calorie restriction for weight loss.

    And Piffle, Meowser, you are correct, FA researchers is definitely a more precise way of expressing the type of folks I would like to see going into these fields, fat or thin.

  24. fj, this post is brilliant. “Reacting rationally to a hostile environment,” “embarking on the medical odyssey of Finding the Right Antidepressant,” “like handing out plastic surgery to combat teenage angst”… you just hit so many points dead-on, and peripheral points at that. Artful wording, solid thinking, the kind that branches out and makes realizations sometimes connected, sometimes un- to the main point.

    I caught that in the article right away too: don’t take teh drugz, they might make you FAT!!!!!11oneone.

    My meds almost all cause weight gain. Lyrica, Effexor XR, Lupron Depot, and the Depo I’ll be going on after the latter. When I sit down and think: Would I rather be 120lbs again, but miserable, with crushing neuralgia and anxiety, or would I rather be my current 160ish, but with my pain significantly neutralized and an actual outside-the-home life?

    What makes me want to cry? is that I know a lot of women who would choose the former…

  25. With regards to nuckingfutz’s comment, I have to say that it amazes me that I live in France (where women supposedly don’t get fat) yet people here do not talk about diet and exercise. The only people who ever make judgmental comments about their food when we go out are other Anglo expats.

    It’s so liberating not to worry about whether food is “good” or “bad” or “healthy” and “unhealthy” (even when packages have nutrition labels, I can’t understand them!). I’m also not really exposed to a lot of popular media, mostly because I don’t really watch TV here.

    And, you know the crazy thing? My weight has stayed pretty much exactly the same since I moved here and stopped dieting (I don’t have a scale either, which is also great, but I went to the doctor here today and she weighed me, though, to my surprise, she made no comments about my weight).

    Anyway, this has become a bit of a tangent with lots of run-on sentences, so I’ll let you all get back to your regularly-scheduled programming.

  26. The autism remark is disturbing on many levels, one of which I don’t see here yet, is just the idea of pwd as burdens, dead weights, non-persons. They are not worth trying to help — only the minimum required to keep them alive because we’d get in trouble if we just killed them off, you know. Whatever it takes, just get them out of our sight, because they make us uncomfortable.

  27. DeeDee Ramona, thank you for that comment about anti-psychotics. I was recently started on an anti-psychotic that augments my anti-depressant. It has worked wonders! But my psychiatrist did make a comment about it possibly leading to weight gain and is insisting upon getting regular bloodwork done.. and, well, there was that little part of me that thought this might be fat bias. Good to know that there is really concrete reasons for it.

  28. What makes me want to cry? is that I know a lot of women who would choose the former…

    My mom read an article about how antidepressants caused weight gain and then in a completely unrelated move decided to take herself off her anti-depressants. Once she re-experienced how miserable she was without them, she decided to go back on, but still… what a reason to go off the medication that made so much positive difference in her life.

  29. Telle: yes – the weight gain associated with anti-psychotics is not the primary issue. The anti-psychotics mess with metabolism, and do nasty things to blood sugar. This is what causes the metabolic syndrome (diabetes, insulin resistance, high blood pressure, etc).

    As a consequence of the changes to metabolism, you get weight gain and increased appetite.

    But it’s not the weight gain as such that’s the issue. It’s all the metabolic crap that causes it. However, the amount of weight gain can be a rough guide to how much your metabolism is being affected.

    As you say, regular bloodwork for cholesterol, blood sugar monitoring etc is essential.

    I’ve taken anti-psychotics for short periods in the past and yes I needed them but since it was short-term I wasn’t too worried about the sides.

    I suspect the cultural fear of gaining weight on psych meds comes from seeing how high-dose anti-psychotics can cause metabolic problems over 10, 15, 20 years of use.

    There’s a big, big debate in the mental health world, at least in the patient space, about the use of APs in some cases perhaps a little too liberally without regard to the long-term consequences, possibly due to the lobbying power of Big Pharma. Check out Phillip Dawdy’ blog Furious Seasons – he covers this in detail.

    From what I’ve read, none of the anti-depressants cause metabolic syndrome. I wouldn’t worry about a 15lb weight gain.

    The other side of the coin is that anti-depressants are often prescribed to sufferers of eating disorders as they tend to have depression as well. For someone with anorexia or bulimia, a weight gain of 10lbs IS a major issue, as it can send someone from being just about able to cope with their current size to falling off the deep end and starving or bingeing/purging again. This is the other reason you see a lot of this discussion on the net.

  30. amandaw, yes, that’s exactly what bothers me about it too. I really thought we were farther along in this accepting-people-with-disabilities thing, but obviously I was wrong.

  31. Might I add, patients who take lots of anti-psychotic medication long term also tend to get subjected to loads of anti-fat discrimination.

    If you’re on these for a long time you WILL get very large. It’s common for sufferers of schizophrenia to get depressed. Wonder if fat-bashing has anything to do with it?

  32. I hate to be the “Well yes but no…” person. Fillyjonk, I think you got the whole “Potentially, dieting, which can worsen mood, and antidepressants, which can cause weight gain, should be minimized” idea a bit wrong.

    Having been treated for a clinical depression and after reading the article I got a different jist.

    Not so much, omg don’t get fat! 1. Anyone who has been diagnosed with clinical depression knows the first option is to throw drugs at you… not therapy, first drugs….

    Fat people get depressed cuz we’re told we essentially we’re wrong and unlovable, and gaining more weight from anti-depressants will make the anti-depressants not work as well because people are still gonna tell you you’re wrong and unlovable.

    In a perfect world, the one FA strives for, there won’t be a link between obesity and depression, because you wouldn’t be depressed over your body because no one would stop you on the street to belittle you over your size and the world wouldn’t feel it had the rights to take pot-shots at you just cuz…

    Sorry for the long post >_<

  33. Fat people get depressed cuz we’re told we essentially we’re wrong and unlovable, and gaining more weight from anti-depressants will make the anti-depressants not work as well because people are still gonna tell you you’re wrong and unlovable.

    Yes, but they’ll be telling you you’re wrong and unlovable when you’re not depressed. Which makes it infinitely easier to deal with.

    I think your reasoning makes sense if clinical depression were rational or if it didn’t completely undermine your ability to cope. But a non-depressed person getting one metric fuckton of shit can still generally deal with it better than a depressed person getting half a metric fuckton, or even none at all.

  34. My mom is on Lexipro for depression. Before taking that, she was on Celexa last year. I don’t know if any of those two medicines causes weight gain, as last year she started dieting.

    Luckily I do not suffer from a mental illness. I get SAD during the winter when the weather is consistently gray and dreary, but that is not severe to the point I need medication. Just seeing the sun puts me in a better mood.

    Although there can be some pretty nasty side effects to some of these drugs, of course the weight gain is the one that the doctors always have to get up in arms about. It would be great if there were quicker-working alternatives, but for a lot of people, these drugs do work. In the long run, having fat people out there who can function and lead as close to normal lives as possible is always better than thinner people on the verge of suicide or comitting dangerous behavior they wouldn’t do if they were on the drugs in the first place. When it comes to mental health, being appealing to the eye shouldn’t even be a priority.

  35. I ment some fat people, obviously not all fat people get depressed and not all get depressed over there weight. Some fat people get depressed cuz something crappy happened and they don’t care about there weight….

    I re-read my comment and felt like an ass cuz I seemed to generalize all fat people get depressed cuz of pop culture and fatphobia…

  36. I’m with you Meowser, I think many people on the spectrum need help dealing with the rest of us; but not to have their neurology changed. There’s a reason that we have non-NT people, they have valuable things to contribute to society. I also think that the people who are severely affected, do need to have their neurology tweaked. When it affects your ability to have a self-sufficient life, then I think it needs a “cure”, at least enough of one so you can be independent even if not NT. Does that make sense?

    And, of course, even people with severe autism are people, not things to be stored away out of sight.

  37. Erin, I do think you’re probably right in that it can’t help. At all. And for a lot of people, even if it’s not the trigger that sets off their depression, it is at very least a convenient hook on which to hang their negative feelings. There’s a tendency among fat women (and even non-fat women) to interpret all stress and negativity as “I’m so fat.” Actually becoming fatter, if you’re still in that mindset, can be quite dangerous.

    But actually becoming fatter because you’re taking a medication that allows you to snap out of that mindset, IMHO, is a situation in which the benefits far outweigh the risks. Yes, you may get more body commentary, from yourself and others. But if you’ve simultaneously acquired the ability to cope, these won’t undo you nearly as much as even a minor setback when you’re in the grips of depression. Especially if you’re concurrently working with a therapist, who can help you gently unhook your negative feelings from your body image.

    This is leaving aside people who are on medications for eating disorders, which as DeeDee pointed out is a situation that needs serious individual consideration.

  38. fillyjonk I cut out a big part of my post talking about my own issues with depression. This isn’t my blog I didn’t want it to seem like a blog post.

    I wasn’t raised in a FA family at all, as a matter of fact my family is so small it was ridiculous to me(my mom is the tallest at 5’4, I’m 5’10 and I was very big in HS) I was depressed cuz my family pushed me to lose weight, everyone in the world around me told me I was utter crap cuz I was fat. then some really CRAPPY stuff happened on top of it.

    I physically harmed myself, I wouldn’t eat. They put me on anti-depressants and I was like umm ok well I’m better but then I gained another 30 lbs and I hated myself for that. And hated myself for having to be on pills that made me apparently more unlovable.

    That thought cycle continued till I got therapy and got treatment from the real issue, my low self-esteem. And when I did that I didn’t need the pills(I’m hyper sensitive so anti-depressants made me more like well… I’m just ok… all the time. And I was never happy, not really sad either but never happy, and I’m hyper sensitive to side effects from medication so I hate shakes, insomnia and this one episode where my family couldn’t wake me for 12 hours ich)

    Sorry I guess I should have left that stuff all in… because that’s why I read it like that, from personal experience

  39. Granted, I am speaking here as someone who went off SSRIs because significant rapid weight gain kinda effed up my body. (My PCOS does not like it when I shoot outside of my set range.) So take that for whatever it’s worth. :) But I’m a very functional depressive most of the time (though still more sensitive to minor setbacks than someone who’s completely standard-brained). If I were more depressed I would be utterly livid if someone tried to edge me away from potentially life-saving medication because it would make me gain weight (theoretically; practically I would probably just be depressed about it).

  40. I think most of you are misinterpreting the anti-depressant remark. If being fat is making you depressed, then taking an antidepressant that could make you more fat would…not be such a good plan. Because while the meds may take away the ability to feel quite so depressed, you intellectually know that you are fatter, and that being fat depresses you. So you may not be able to feel it, but it’s still there. You can still hate yourself and your body just as much, even if you’re not falling into a pit of despair. Does that make sense?

    I’m saying this as a fat woman on anti-depressants. I can accept that fat isn’t immoral, and people shouldn’t be judged by it, and still not like being fat. I guess I’m willing to accept fat in others, just not in myself.

  41. fillyjonk I’m wondering if you’re like me, my therapist calls it the “gift”. Where it’s not that you don’t produce enough of the “happy hormones” but that you’re hyper sensitive to them, which in turns makes every emotion intense… happy, sad, angry.

    Though we usually don’t notice we’re happier then other people, cuz the sad part makes it suck that much more

  42. JPlum, I’ve addressed that above.

    (And incidentally, if you read the excerpt occhiblu posted, it’s your version that’s a misinterpretation. I see where you’re coming from — but the researchers don’t seem to.)

  43. I have nothing useful to add, except that I love this post and its comments. In related news, this —

    I would be utterly livid if someone tried to edge me away from potentially life-saving medication because it would make me gain weight (theoretically; practically I would probably just be depressed about it).

    — has had me giggling for, like, ten minutes. I don’t really know why.

  44. Erin, boy, some gift! Without a reference point of knowing what stuff is like for other people, I can’t really say if that’s my experience… though I know I was a little hypomanic on Lexapro, and I definitely don’t experience that in my unmedicated life, so I’m inclined to think no. I think my emotions are kind of like my vision — I see static, like TV static, in my visual field at all times, in front of everything, and my brain is kinda like that too. In order to focus on anything I’m thinking about, I first have to push through a haze of brain noise, most of which is anxiety, second-guessing, self-recrimination, etc. But, like the visual static, it doesn’t really interfere with my daily life… it just makes me a little annoying, as SM can attest.

  45. Hey whoa, my vision thing has a Wikipedia entry! With a photoshop mockup, much like ones I’ve made before to show people what I’m talking about!

    And holy hell, it looks like it might be a headacheless migraine. A friend proposed that years ago and I assumed he was wrong because a) it was absurd and b) he said he was totally guessing. And c) he was generally not a very good person. Maybe he was not a very good GENIUS.

  46. Ha! I used to think that too… it’s hard to know if you don’t have comparsion but I was in group therapy for so long after sharing my experiences with that of other peoples experiences it started becoming obvious I was happier about my triumphs then others… when I was happy I was so happy…

    I do see it as a gift now, mostly cuz I am more able to cope with my self-doubt, my feelings of worthlessness, my sadness etc etc… I’ve only been in therapy for the last 7 years, and I didn’t get a good grasp on all of it till I had my daughter, they tend to make all the problems in the world that much more clear. I just ride the waves with a deep breath, a good cry and a thought of “this too shall pass”

    For the pills. I had the same issue with paxil, I didn’t sleep for 2 weeks and I was paranoid. My doctor said oh god you’re bipolor and put me on lamictal which almost killed me >_<!!! So as you can see from my experience, I’m very much a big person for lets try something else first. Behavioural modifications can be so effective. (Thoughts are behaviors, if people want to realize it)

    Of course I always think anyone with immediate thoughts of suicide or self-injury should be treated with medication immediately, but I believe they should do in-patient therapy… at first anyway, then switch to out-patient once the thought of self-harm passes

  47. Heh. I just checked out that wiki entry, FJ, and the medication my daughter takes for her seizures is one of the recommended treatments for visual snow.

  48. Well… if a person is depressed because of low self esteem caused by being fat, then anti-depressants aren’t going to solve the problem, and anti-depressants that cause weight gain might just make it worse. In that kind of case, the solution is fat acceptance, self-acceptance, and therapy. But if a person is depressed because of a chemical imbalance in their brains and being fat is just making the depression worse, then antidepressants will help, for the reasons FJ said. And to recommend against them on grounds of becoming fatter could be very harmful to that person.

    I would be utterly livid if someone tried to edge me away from potentially life-saving medication because it would make me gain weight (theoretically; practically I would probably just be depressed about it).

    Well, depression can definately cause anger. My mom’s depression manifested itself as anger. And when I went off my anti-depressants, it took me a long time to realise what a bad idea that was, because I didn’t feel sad or depressed, I felt angry all the time. When I went back on them, I went back to being my calm and usually cheerful self. Not that I don’t get angry when I have cause to be, but when I was off my medication I felt angry all the time for no reason. I picked a lot of fights with my fiance during that time because being angry for no reason made me feel like I was crazy, so I looked around for reasons to be angry, which usually ended up being the mess our house was always in.

  49. Erin, that’s interesting, becuase I’m like that when I’m on medication. When I’m happy I’m so happy, but if I’m sad or angry I’m just miserable and devastated. Before I was on medication though I’d go through weeks of a time of feeling just constantly depressed or angry, alternated with very short periods of being very happy. It was no way to live for me.

  50. the medication my daughter takes for her seizures is one of the recommended treatments for visual snow.

    So’s the one that helped give Dani Treehorn Syndrome. Unless it turns out that migraine without infarction causes other problems (like, say, inability to concentrate or keep the house clean), I think I shan’t be bothering to pursue it. But it was so interesting to find out that that’s the going theory, especially given that my friend had guessed it years ago. Also, in researching I found out that there’s a word for your pupils being different sizes: anisocoria! I’m excited about that too!

    Becky:

    I looked around for reasons to be angry, which usually ended up being the mess our house was always in.

    Hee, oh gosh.

    Only my version usually has me being self-recriminating about it, rather than exactly angry.

    I do hear you about anger as a symptom, though.

  51. Having been very depressed about a horrible breakup, I seriously contemplated going on antidepressants on a situational basis. I even had a tete-a-tete with my doctor to update her about my state of mind and make sure she was on board for the prescription. Ultimately, I alleviated the crushing feelings of sadness and anger (to name a few) through therapy, exercise, journaling, and foods rich in complex carbs and protein. While I have no problem with anyone taking antidepressants whatsoever, what’s everyone’s take on these types of more behavior-oriented solutions? Is it too complocated and potentially dangerous for those with EDs to adject their food intake to specifically address mood? Can or should exercise actually be successfully prescribed as a mood elevator? Is there a need in the plus-size community for more holistic modalities to resolve some of the specific issues that we face?

  52. Oh, FJ, I wasn’t bringing that up as a recommendation. I just thought it kind of strange that a medication so strong would be recommended for something like visual snow. Not that I’m trying to say that it’s “nothing,” but Syrina’s had to be monitored all of her life because of these medications (although somewhat rare, they can cause things like kidney/liver failure, you know – bad stuff), and it just struck me as odd that they’d want to recommend something that strong.

  53. voloptuousrobot, I would think that it would depend on the individual. Some people can control depression through a combination of therapy, exercise, etc., and some people truly need the medication. The problem seems to be that a lot of doctors are so quick to pull out their prescription pad that they don’t even stop to consider the alternatives. And then if whatever they’ve prescribed makes you gain weight, they turn it around like it’s YOUR fault.

  54. Oh, FJ, I wasn’t bringing that up as a recommendation.

    Oh, I know you weren’t! I took it as “damn, one of the things they prescribe for it is anti-seizure medication, that is a hardcore treatment,” and I was agreeing with you! It would take a lot more than shitty night vision, trails, etc. for me to pursue even the CAT scans involved in diagnosis, let alone serious medication like that. I’m sure other people feel differently, but me, I shan’t be going there.

    And you said pretty much just what I would have said (and, I thought, did say in the post) about non-medication alternatives.

  55. fillyjonk, re: headacheless seizures, your vision thing could very well be that. For years and years I had weird vision problems — random tunnel vision, sudden bouts of color-blindness, visual snow, random serious blurring, all kinds of crap. I was told that I had irreversible, degenerative optic nerve damage, even though it never showed up on X-rays. When I went to my optometrist for new glasses a couple of years ago, he did new X-rays and still saw no damage – so following a hunch, he had me start taking a tablespoon of liquid magnesium every day. My vision problems (other than my baseline crappy eyesight) totally evaporated; it turned out I’d been having… you guessed it, headacheless migraines. The way he explained it, a migraine isn’t really a severe headache, it’s a constellation of symptoms. You can get any or all of the symptoms, and you can get any of them without the symptom of pain. You might want to check it out!

    (GOD WHY CAN’T I STOP TALKING TODAY? Sorry, guys.)

  56. And why did I say “seizures” when I meant “migraines?” The world may never know and oh, sweet Jesus, I am going AWAY now.

  57. And holy hell, it looks like it might be a headacheless migraine.

    The term I heard kicked around when I would get them was an “ocular migraine”. What would happen to me is that I would get the sparkly line thingy slowly making its way across my vision and then I would get a mother of a headache–but not of a migraine-y level (I assume–I’ve never had a migraine headache).

    But a non-depressed person getting one metric fuckton of shit can still generally deal with it better than a depressed person getting half a metric fuckton, or even none at all.

    I couldn’t tell you the last time I caught any shit in my personal life regarding my weight, by strangers or otherwise, and there are days…oh, there are days. My mood swings, let me show you them.

  58. The curebies make me nervous with their wanting to standardize everyone’s behavior, but writing off everyone on the spectrum pisses me off even more.

    In a way, it seems like the same attitude from different sides. The curebies are like “we must cure these poor little children because their lives are just going to be worthless if we cannot make them totally conform!” Because giving us supportive help to live the best way we can as autistic people is not good enough. Differences must be eliminated, and if you try and try and try, and you’re still different, well then your life is just a throwaway, now isn’t it? Anyone else see a parallel with fat-hate here?

    …the idea of pwd as burdens, dead weights, non-persons. They are not worth trying to help — only the minimum required to keep them alive because we’d get in trouble if we just killed them off

    That’s a disturbingly accurate description, *especially* with regard to mental illness/mental disability. My mother is schizophrenic and a survivor of Reye’s syndrome, and this is exactly how society views her. She’s the lady who dresses funny and talks funny and leeches her (measly, $500 a month) income off good honest taxpayers, and certainly shouldn’t have been allowed to raise a child. Most of our extended family wants nothing to do with her and I suspect they see her as a skeleton in the family closet, not to be talked about. It’s heartbreaking, especially considering she is the absolute nicest person you could ever meet.

  59. When I started on anti-depressants, my dad’s very first concern was whether they would make me gain weight. When I told him I didn’t care, it was like… like he didn’t hear me at all. His response just… didn’t have anything to do with what I said.

    Anyone who has been diagnosed with clinical depression knows the first option is to throw drugs at you… not therapy, first drugs….

    Uh. That wasn’t my experience, fwiw. It’s always always always been therapy in conjunction with the drugs, not- here, have some drugs, kthx bai. And the drugs were so I wasn’t so goddamn depressed that I couldn’t, you know, attend therapy. I think there’s some merit in that, even if you don’t need them long term (which I do).

    (possibly I’m a little sensitive, as I’ve gotten a lot of the “Oh, doctors overmedicate everyone!” (subtext: you could do this without the drugs if you just tried a little harder) of late.)

  60. I get migraine without headaches. With them too, but not often. Mostly, though, I get aura — my vision goes weirdly Technicolor with dazzling rainbow arcs and purple comets, sometimes I’ll hear bells — followed by several hours to a day or so of sensitivity to light, difficulty focusing, disturbances to my balance and diarrhoea.

  61. So, being fat in this society makes you depressed. In another breaking story, water is wet.

    I am the very model of a modern fitness regiment
    I keep my buttocks free of any cellulite or sediment
    my means of motivation has so far been no impediment
    To all the many ways I lift weights, run, and do experiments!

    (to all the many ways she lifts weights, runs, and does experiments!)

    I hope you’ll share my very happy sentiment
    And all the work I do brings me a million happy compliments
    My evenings at the gym are full of wonder and excite-a-ments
    I am the very model of a modern fitness regiment!

  62. This makes me wonder about something. Fibromyalgia appears to be caused by (at least in part) or result in the same sort of chemical imbalances which cause depression. That’s why anti-depressants are often used to treat fibro. If there’s a relation between to depression and obesity, I think it would help explain why so many people become overweight after developing fibro. Skinny fibromites like myself, Dani and amandaw are the exception more than the rule, my doctor was fully expecting me to gain weight as I developed it and was rather worried when I didn’t. Add onto that the frequent medication side effect of weight gain and the drastic reduction in exercise* and it would explain why a disproportionate amount of fibro patients are overweight.

    Or, it could be because we’re lazy people with an imaginary disease which lets us shirk out responsibilities at work and our responsibility not to become fat leeches on the healthcare system. (Thin leeches are more acceptable; at least they’re pleasant to look that.)

    *jogging for 30 minutes a day might not cause a weight change, but going from active to near bed-bound could be a significant enough change to cause major weight gain, I think

  63. Meg, years ago while doing (secondary) research on depression, I came across a statistic that 79% of people with fibromyalgia have a sibling with a depressive disorder. So it would seem that whatever genes contribute to the hormone imbalances that contribute to depressive disorders are on the same chromosomes as the ones that make someone susceptible to fibromyalgia. (At one time I knew how all of that worked; now I could barely draw you a Punnett square for the different human eye colors, let alone explain anything more complicated. I haven’t studied any biology for about 15 years.) My family fits. My sister and I were on different doses of the same meds for a while, her for fibromyalgia and me for depression.

  64. Depression and anxiety also sometimes go hand in hand with PCOS. I personally went to therapy for the first time when I was in the second grade, so I know I’ve got some chemical weirdness going on in my brain. I have been on and off antidepressants for most of my adult life. At this point I am off of them but I don’t doubt that I might have to take them again at some point. And if I gain weight, I have a good base of FA support, which is a supreme relief.

    Of course, living in a fat phobic society didn’t help anything, that is for certain, especially when psychiatrists gave me helpful hints like savoring every bite of my food! Because then I wouldn’t eat so much of it, you see. It couldn’t have been going off birth control, oh no.

    PCOS sufferers also tend to get migraines, as well.

    Signed, the PCOS know-it-all.

  65. Brava buttercup! :joins buttercup’s fan club: I do the same things with dorky theological concepts — set them to show tunes. I didn’t think I’d find anyone else with the same, uhhmm, gift? LOL.

  66. Re: headacheless migraines. I got one of these last month (I get regular migraines with some frequency) and I wasn’t too worried until I called the nurse hotline and she said to get to the hospital because I might be having a stroke! Instead I entrusted myself to the tender, soothing ministrations of Google, where I learned what it was. For me it looked like a crescent-shaped sparkly, shimmering area to the left of my field of vision, and it was present in both eyes.

    Erin, re: the gift of intensity and sensitivity: “Though we usually don’t notice we’re happier then other people, cuz the sad part makes it suck that much more”

    Sigh. I totally relate to what you’re saying about the “gift” (and curse, as Monk would say) of being so intense. Unfortunately, the way I know that I’m happier than other people is that my enthusiasm for things I’m happy about tends to overflow what’s socially acceptable and is seen instead as childish or silly, but at any rate, unserious. (Even if the subject is something you’d think would be sufficiently serious, like… Heidegger.) But then when I’m sad, I’m apparently no fun to be around either. You can’t win some days.

  67. thanks everyone-I thought it didn’t scan particularly well but it was the best I could do at the time.

    asarah, its one of my favorite activities. You should have heard my rendition of “rudolph the redneck bomber.”

  68. Buttercup, you’re a genius.

    Bree, you mentioned SAD way up above — have you tried a lightbox? It sounds like woo-woo pseudoscience, but I swear to god it worked for me (and I lived in the PNW for five years, so we’re talking hardcore there-is-no-sun-for-6-months action). (Okay, not as hardcore as in, say, Scandinavia. But still!) It’s worth checking out.

  69. The term I heard kicked around when I would get them was an “ocular migraine”.

    That’s a little different from this, from what I’ve seen (which granted is just on the internet)… I’d ruled out ocular migraines because they’re events, and I’ve just always had static (and some double vision, trails, etc.). Persistent migraine aura or persistent aura without infarction is… persistent.

    I did go to the ophthalmologist a few years back (even though I’ve always had it — at the time there wasn’t all this persistent migraine aura stuff on the internet, and I kept seeing that it could be a precursor to MS) and they didn’t see any problems. Which is weird, because they gave me a test where I was supposed to notice specks of light in a “dark” field — but of course for me any dark field is covered with specks of light! No idea how I determined which were the “extra” lights well enough to pass the test.

  70. Aww A Sarah…. I really hate seeing other girls with the same conditions as myself in positions that aren’t as good as mine(please don’t get my wrong, my life isn’t all roses and sunshine)

    I will say when I learned about it with the research that had been done, 20% of the female population has heightened emotions… So 1 in 5 women you meet are just like you and I

    Anyone who is still stuggling day to day with having them, the happy or the sad sides, I really suggest seeking out a woman’s group. If you’re in therapy(if you aren’t seek out a therapist) get a recommendation. It’s amazing how comforting it is to be around women with the same “issues”

    Also, one thing I found that helped me was volunteering for teen groups for girls with depression, eating disorders and addictions. You do the girls a great service by showing them you can live a normal life and there is something outside of their diseases. And you’ll learn a great deal from these incredibly strong girls

  71. Yay, Buttercup!

    I find it funny that about 50% of the female population in the U. S. (since 47% of us use hormonal birth control, and lord knows how many on anti-depressants) is on drugs with known side effects of making us gain weight . . . and then they declare an obesity epidemic. Tell me fat isn’t a feminist issue.

    I have a friend, though, on Paxil, who went from ‘underweight’ to ‘overweight’ in a year, mostly because when she was medicated, she wasn’t too anxious to eat. She’d rather be sane than skinny. I say, good for her.

  72. A Sarah:

    “Unfortunately, the way I know that I’m happier than other people is that my enthusiasm for things I’m happy about tends to overflow what’s socially acceptable and is seen instead as childish or silly, but at any rate, unserious.”

    Word. This is the same way I am…I tend to get very giggly and awe-strike about little things, and super happy-excited in a childish way. I was at lunch with coworkers the other day and was completely ignoring the conversation because I was totally fascinated and content watching the bubbles pushing the straw out of my Coke. My coworkers of course thought I was crazy.

    That, combined with the fact that I’m a tiny little girl (4’8″), makes me come across, I think, as very silly and childish. At this point I’m pretty used to people seeing me as the goofy weird girl who’s excited by anything. I think sometimes I even encourage it…it’s a good way to get people to let their guard down, and I feel it lets them open up to me more. Of course, it has it’s drawbacks as well…people tend to see me as unserious and immature.

    What they don’t often see, though, is the other side–the severe depression, anxiety, crying, stress, self-recrimination, obsessive thoughts, and heavy philosophical observer bent. I doubt most of the people I deal with in a day-to-day basis would even recognize me if I took off the little-girl costume.

  73. Erin: “Anyone who is still stuggling day to day with having them, the happy or the sad sides, I really suggest seeking out a woman’s group. If you’re in therapy(if you aren’t seek out a therapist) get a recommendation. It’s amazing how comforting it is to be around women with the same “issues”

    Thanks so much or the empathy — another thing we intense types are good at, no? :)

    You know what’s weird and kind of frustrating, though, about the possibility for a women’s gorup? Since being married and having kids and being funneled into the whole young-couples-with-kids social scene, I have SUCH A HARD TIME finding female friends I can relate to. With other moms you get the Mom Olympics, and most of the women I’ve met around here are really into the traditional arrangement of things in a marriage… and the other women who are trying to balance parenting, marriage, and a professional life are, like me, way too busy for groups, unless that group would be before bedtime and provide childcare, which…. I mean, okay, sure, if someone else organized all that I’d totally be up for it, but who has time? None of the people who would actually benefit from such a group.

    But I do have a kick-ass therapist. (I’ve mentioned that before once or twice, and I was worried it was getting annoying, so I’m glad there’s at least one Shapeling who isn’t like, “OKAY, A Sarah, WE KNOW that you have a great therapist!”)

  74. EntoAggie: “What they don’t often see, though, is the other side–the severe depression, anxiety, crying, stress, self-recrimination, obsessive thoughts, and heavy philosophical observer bent. I doubt most of the people I deal with in a day-to-day basis would even recognize me if I took off the little-girl costume.”

    OH MY GOSH THIS! Except I’m not tiny like you, so what this meant was that for years I felt like my body didn’t fit the act I was putting on. So I just kind of ignored my body.

    eep, youngest son is trying to eat the vacuum cleaner parts… want to say more, but gotta go..

  75. I call BS. I’m sorry, I’m halfway on the FA movement, but not entirely… likely because I dislike people saying you can’t do something – like succeed at losing weight. That’s my nature and stubborn attitude coming into play, nothing against anyone here. There is enough stigmata about mental illness as is with out tossing it into the FA movement – and I’ve dealt with my mental illness a lot longer than my weight. It’s had bigger and more frightening impacts on my life than the extra 70 pounds I’m carrying around at the moment. I’m more concerned with how people who have a mental illness are perceived than people who are overweight (or Fat). I’m more likely to die from my mental illness and have a harder time having that treated and handled correctly than from my weight problem.

    Yes, being fat can be a stressor and add to the worries you have, weight you down even more, but it’s not a direct correlation as to why someone is depressed. It’s hard to find a good psychologist and psychiatrist to work with so they can adjust the medication just so you can achieve a sense of normality. It’s upsetting that you’re treating your disease and fighting depression and suddenly GAINING twenty pounds while doing it. You have enough of an issue already trying to find your center and suddenly you don’t recognize who you are and your clothes don’t fit because you gain weight from certain anti-depressants and ant-mania medication.

    Treating depression, manic depression, schizophrenia and other illnesses is difficult enough when patients (including myself) get to a better mental state and go off their meds because they think they’re all better. Cause then we spiral back down, get back to same bad place and some of us attempt suicide and succeed.

  76. Oriencor, you’re forgetting that you aren’t everybody else, and everybody else isn’t you. Just because your weight has no effect on your depression doesn’t mean that everyone else feels the same. And that’s what we’re talking about, here: feelings! It’s ridiculous for you to decide what other people can feel, based on your own experiences. I’m not fighting a war in Iraq, but the war is…still there, last time I checked, whether I’ve experience fighting a war in Iraq for myself.

  77. Yes, being fat can be a stressor and add to the worries you have, weight you down even more, but it’s not a direct correlation as to why someone is depressed.

    Wait, are you trying to call BS on my post, or on the researchers’ study? Because you’re doing the latter, and I’m not sure if it’s on purpose or if you just didn’t read carefully.

    And JPlum is right — this is awfully self-centered. You call bullshit because YOU’RE more concerned about how people with mental illnesses are treated than how fat people are treated (which apparently means that you don’t really care how fat people with mental illnesses are treated)? You call bullshit because YOUR depression has had more of an effect on you than your fat? That’s why you dispute the study’s findings?

    All those “you”s in the second paragraph should be “I”s, by the way. Just FYI.

  78. Actually, JPlum, you were correct before your correction — “whether or not” is a redundancy, since use of “whether” implies its alternative; “whether I’ve experienced…” is the correct usage.

    Uh, and I am not touching Oriencor’s comments, so I just thought I’d get all grammar-nitpicky. *sidles off, whistling a tune*

  79. I know this is off topic, but I need to rant a bit: I’m watching Dr. Phil (more like, listening as I do other things), and he’s talking to parents of obese children. And of course, there are countless weight loss commercials in between segments.

    *headdesk*

  80. Can’t really agree with you there, sarawr… I think it would be right in some cases but not this one.

    “This memory probe will determine whether I have fought in Iraq”: right, “or not” is implied
    “This is true whether I have fought in Iraq”: wrong, alternative needs to be mentioned

  81. There is enough stigmata about mental illness as is

    *cough* Now THAT would make people question your sanity…

    “Unfortunately, the way I know that I’m happier than other people is that my enthusiasm for things I’m happy about tends to overflow what’s socially acceptable and is seen instead as childish or silly, but at any rate, unserious.”

    OMG you guys are inside of my head! I get giggly and stuff when I’m happy (and often really small things make me happy), and I feel like it makes people think I’m dumb. I get a little self-conscious about it with certain people, but man, how much does it suck to have to be self-conscious about being happy?

    And then of course I have the “depressed because I think too much” side too. So when I show more of my intelligence I’m less happy… I can’t win here. But I can keep twirling this glittery pencil.

  82. Man, I’m just dour all the time. My range goes from “depressed” up through “sardonic and negative but in a funny way.” I have to admit I’m a little envious of you bubbly types.

  83. Did Oriencor just say “stigmata about mental illness”? I think he did.

    I couldn’t read the rest of the comment; my hands suddenly started bleeding for no apparent reason. Sorry for messing up the keyboard, honey….

  84. fillyjonk, in cases like your second example, you insert “regardless” (or similar). In that case, you’d say, “This is true regardless of whether I have fought…” etc. “Whether or not” is a redundancy. Of course, in modern usage… eh. But there’s certainly no need to correct it to add the “or not” when it works just fine without it!

  85. FJ: “I have to admit I’m a little envious of you bubbly types.”

    This is said completely sincerely: Really?! That kind of blows my mind… in a good way, I think… because I’m always envious of YOU sardonic types! Because you always seem so smart and cool and you seem to have the intellectual thing downl. And also because it seems like middle-aged men don’t still call you “kiddo” when you’re in your thirties. (Er, do they?)

    :sending mental look of death to several specific men I know:

    I often feel like everything I do, maybe especially the bubbliness, says “Please! Patronize me!” And then when I *am* depressed I feel like it’s not COOL depression because, being an otherwise bubbly type, I can’t pass the depression off as artistic intellectual indie angst or anything else that’s got some sort of trendy expression. (I KNOW that’s completely screwed up, but that’s one of the many unhelpful things that occurs during those times.) To be honest, though, I have to claim a lot of responsibility for the “kiddo” dynamic, because I do tend pretend like I’m less intelligent than I am, even without realizing it. Of course I developed that habit as a kid in order to avoid being a nerdy weird girl. And, obviously, it backfired; I was still a nerdy weird girl, I just then also had a habit of always trying – badly – to play the ingenue.

    To hell with all that.

  86. Oriencor, I think all of that post was very self-centered but I took offense to the comment about medication….

    I haven’t attempted suicide or self-injury in many years. Further more I managed to make it through PPD with treatment of therapy and taking care of myself… You don’t have the right to judge people who go off there meds, for some people the benefits do not outweigh the risk. As in mine and fillyjonks case… everything is case by case and individual

    A Sarah I know what you mean about the whole kids thing, I’m not married though… I’m a single mom and it’s hard to find other women with kids and especially my own age(I’m 23) so most of my friends are 10+ years my age lol. Ask your fantastic therapist(Maybe we have the same fantastic therapist cuz mine is fantastic too) about some women’s groups sometimes they can suggest :-)

    I’m a mixture of bubbly and sarcastic…. but I’m so unsure of myself I don’t usually connect on a personal level with females at all…. I feel judged and fearful of girls but I’m fantastic with men, my best friends are men…(This is probably why I’ll be a single mother forever lol)

  87. onejewishdyke: I’ve read that too. Psychiatric illnesses are common in my mother’s family, so common, in fact, that I have more relatives with them than without. I can’t find the study right now, much to my chagrin, but apparently the odds of having fibromyalgia increase by 3% for every relative within one degree of kindred who has depression or schizophrenia. Barring any other risk factors, that puts my odds at developing it at…24%ish. When I found that out, it suddenly made sense to me why I developed fibro despite no family history of it.

  88. Fibromyalgia may be a sensory processing disorder, or a sensory neuron/motor neuron mismatch.

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080531091216.htm

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071030220054.htm

    This is not saying that it’s not real, anything neurons report to the brain is really experienced. My son has a sensory processing disorder, for which he goes to occupational therapy once a week. I wonder if, odd as it sounds, occupational therapy might help people with fibromyalgia? Perhaps this is why aquatic exercise in warm water helps? (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080222082433.htm) I know that exposing my son to different sensory experiences has been an important part of teaching his senses and body to interact properly.

    At any rate, fibromyalgia is certainly teaching us interesting things about how our nervous system works, and that things can go wrong on a very tiny scale, which is difficult to measure, and cause significant problems.

  89. To clarify, tiny scale meant literal measurements, it’s easy to see why a huge gash hurts, it’s much harder to see why molecular changes hurt, because molecules, cells, neurons, are harder to see. I didn’t mean tiny to imply small in importance!

  90. After all, the mentally ill you used as a punching bag in ages past have now become functional fat people, so whom are you going to punch in their place?

    Most of the psych meds that make people fat also cause people to be less functional. It’s a myth that psych meds help most people. In fact, at best 30% are helped by psych meds and a whole lot of people are made worse and get put on med merry-go-rounds that never quit. Iatrogenic illness is the rule rather than the exception.

    I’m all for fat acceptance and I also happen to be a victim of over-medication that led to my weight gain. I don’t give a shit about the weight….I care about the fact that the drugs stole my life and poisoned my soul.

    I can live with being fat as a result of meds, but I want my brain back, thank you very much.

  91. There’s a lot going on in this discussion that would seem to hinge on what depression actually is and what causes it. I feel compelled to point out that clinical professionals dealing with mental illness are, at best, throwing darts in the dark with the vague hope that they’re at least facing the target. This is not to say that they’re incompetent, simply that our knowledge and understanding of what the mainstream labels “mental illness” is still extremely poor. We’re just barely out of the stage at which depression was a mortal sin and drugs for schizophrenia eventually (or immediately) turned you into a drooling, nonfunctional infant. Hell, we’re only a few years out of the stage at which removing a portion of your brain seemed like a good idea.

    Depression is a collection of symptoms, and there is growing literature to suggest that, just because two people have a diagnosis of depression, doesn’t mean that they actually have the same chemical/mental/social variances. (Hence the fact that some current-generation antipsychotics work great for some people and do permanent damage to others.) The DSM is based on “expert opinion” rather than actual research, so there’s plenty of reason to be suspicious even of something as basic as diagnostic guidelines.

    The discussion is further muddied by the fact that “depression” has a colloquial meaning as well as a clinical one. “Feeling depressed” does not begin to describe what most patients diagnosed with major depression experience. Feeling helpless and hopeless because of constant social alienation and persecution really isn’t depression in the clinical sense–depression is characterized as a mood disorder, and being upset by things that are, well, upsetting, doesn’t (or shouldn’t) place someone in the “mentally ill” category.

    When I was diagnosed with major depression (with psychotic symptoms! score!) at 19 I had a series of terrible experiences with mainstream medical care ranging from ineffectual treatment to physical abuse. Having experienced my “illness” basically from birth, many of my “symptoms” were intimately wrapped up with my personality. To be completely asymptomatic was, for me, a removal of everything that made me me. I found more reliable information, a less infantilizing approach, and a more open-minded community at the Icarus Project. While I didn’t agree with everything, I found its focus on “healthy” and “happy” rather than “normal” to be much more productive–and, incidentally, very similar to many FA activists’ focuses.

    (That got really self-centered there; sorry.) I also think there’s a lot of research yet to be done on the genetic components of fat and depression (and both), plus a howling emptiness where the sociological research should be.

  92. I think it’s important to understand there is a difference, at least initially, between organic depression and situational depression, while understanding that situational depression can certainly become organic. Depression can “just happen” if you’re organically wired for it. Depression can also be brought on by circumstances. It can also be a combination of the two. Someone with a slight organic tendency to be depressive may do fine until a situational trigger puts her over the edge. Likewise, someone who is situationally depressed may not be able to get out of the neurochemical rut without medication.

    Everyone is different, and brain chemistry is some complicated shit.

  93. I have to say that I took SSRI’s for situational depression, and they really helped. I think that I’m prone to depression, but don’t actually go over the edge without a push. (Sort of a combo of organic and situational there, I think others could have handled the stress without depression.) I got the drugs, got better, and now cope without them. I’m one of the relatively rare people who did not gain weight from the drug, but that was irrelevant because weight wasn’t an issue for my situation.

  94. In fact, at best 30% are helped by psych meds and a whole lot of people are made worse

    Come to think of it, this is a good point. I was operating on an idealized vision of psych meds but I guess there was that recent study showing that they’re overwhelmingly ineffective. I still object to the reasoning, i.e. that meds should not be prescribed because they will cause weight gain, but I’ll add “because they often don’t work” to my list of good reasons not to take them.

  95. sorry to not drop this but in addition to mental impairment and general dysfunction, psych meds such as the atypical antipsychotics kill people. The incidence of diabetes and hyperglycemia is astronomical. Much much higher than for people who are simply fat for genetic reasons. And also in those who may not even gain weight. Neuroleptics also shrink the brain and cause severe cognitive impairment.

    Neuroleptics, especially Seroquel, are being given as an adjunct therapy for depression. These are drugs that are commonly known as antipsychotics. The trend to their use in depression is alarming.

    I found that these drugs made my depression worse and they impeded my cognition so badly that I had to quit working. I’ve been withdrawing from these highly addictive drugs for the last 4 years.

    Sorry to sorta change the topic, but I really hate to see misinformation on these meds all over the place.

    I appreciate your bringing up that one study fillyjonk…there are many many more, but most of them are hard to find as research in these areas are corrupt with pharma cash.

    Also as feminists it’s important to understand that women are targeted in very creepy ways through direct to consumer advertising to take these meds.

  96. most of them are hard to find as research in these areas are corrupt with pharma cash

    A problem we know well in FA. I remember also the studies on antidepressant use in adolescents and how it can increase suicidal behavior, and I know that some SSRIs if mistakenly prescribed to bipolar people can cause psychosis. I do want to avoid getting sidetracked too much by the question of “are all psych drugs good or bad,” though — the researchers were talking about SSRIs, MAOIs, and tricyclics, not antipsychotic drugs, and they were specifically recommending avoidance even if these drugs would be effective because of potential weight gain. The question of whether psych drugs do more harm than good is a separate though important issue.

  97. Fibromyalgia, as best as researchers know atm, is a disorder of the central neuroprocessing, basically misinterpreting/amplifying sensations. Which is why fms sufferers also often have multiple chemical sensitivities, or sensitivity to light or sound, etc.

    Serotonin is, essentially, the bouncer for your brain. It kicks out the “bad” signals. In both patients with depression and with fms, levels of serotonin are abnormally low (among other things). So more “bad” signals get through, resulting in more bad thoughts, more bad physical feelings, or both.

    Serotonin isn’t the only chemical involved though — norepinephrine, substance P, certain cytokines, and a couple others I’m forgetting… all play into fibro.

    Interestingly, two studies:
    one found that in fibromyalgia patients, sleep is interrupted by bursts of brain activity, preventing the patients from ever reaching stage 4 sleep (or rarely) — the restorative stage
    the other found that when you reproduce this effect in healthy patients, after 2-3 weeks… they start showing fibro symptoms!

    I know I’m definitely one of the exceptions re: weight and fibro. Just reasoning it out, the fact that fibromites tend to be more sedentary than most (even in this LAZYOMG!!!11 american culture) means some weight gain is probably going to result. But yes, I have noticed that a great many fibro sufferers are fairly overweight — although I have noticed, too, a fair amount who are dangerously underweight — it seems to trend one way or t’other (more of the former than the latter). This is anecdata, of course. :)

  98. here’s what FA has done for me: it has removed the layer of self-hate so i could look more dispassionately at the situation i was in (inexplicably gaining weight for the first time in my life, experiencing depression and fatigue and a host of other symptoms) and ignore the concerned voices from family (‘you really just need to eat right and exercise’) and from doctors who weren’t working very hard (‘here’s an anti-depressant’ ‘that didn’t work? try this different antidepressant.’ ‘still no good? try another.’)

    and, it put me into contact with people who shared all the symptoms i had and eventually, sometimes by accident, came across someone who properly diagnosed thyroid dysfunction.

    HALLELUJIAH.

    without being able to read the words written by others who actually fought this battle before me, i would still be thinking i was some kind of loony/hypochondriac. it’s okay to be fat, and it’s possible to be healthy and fat. here are loads of people who are. oh, thank gods. so if i’m *unhealthy* and fat, and it’s not normal for my body, there’s something else wrong? YES. peel back that layer of panic and self-loathing and look what better care you can get.

    THANK YOU.

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