Comfort eating and energy issues - Action on Postpar...

Action on Postpartum Psychosis

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Comfort eating and energy issues

IvyWren profile image

Hi everyone,

I am coming up to 4 months into my recovery from postpartum phycosis, I was in a MBU for 12 weeks and diagnosed with PP 7 days after my daughter was born in May.

Whilst at the unit they also diagnosed me with bipolar.

I am on sertraline, lithium and olanzapine.

Luckily I am doing well with my mood now, as it dropped extremely low and it was very dark and I finally feel I am bonding with my beautiful little girl.

One thing I am struggling with is comfort/ binge eating and my energy levels. I can go through a pack of biscuits and think nothing of it. It’s a craving I really struggle with, if there is nothing in I will find something to ease the craving, like have jam on toast, cereal and sugar. I am putting on weight and hate it.

Has anyone else experienced this? The plan is to start coming off the olanzapine once my lithium levels have been checked.

Thanks everyone x

10 Replies
Naomi_at_app profile image

Hi IvyWren

I'm really glad you have found the APP community and reached out to us here for some support. It's lovely to hear that you feel that your mood has improved and that you are enjoying the bond with your baby daughter. You are doing so well - these early months of recovery can be really challenging but it sounds like things are heading in a positive direction. You can be really proud of yourself!

I certainly struggled with an increased appetite (especially as you describe, for sweet things) as a side-effect of medication, along with feeling like I needed to sleep a huge amount. It sounds positive that your team are looking to reduce your Olanzapine, take it steadily and be as kind to yourself as you can - you've been through so much and sometimes the pressure we put on ourselves to lose weight or not gain weight can be overwhelming.

In terms of practical tips with the sweet cravings (which I still tend to get in the evenings) I've sometimes found that a pint of water/squash, a big glass of milk or a mug of decaf tea helps to curb the cravings a bit, and enables me to nourish myself with something rather than trying to completely ignore the hungry feeling.

You're definitely not alone with these tricky side-effects of medication, and I'm sure lots of other APP mums can share their experiences and how they've managed with you too.

Warm wishes


Hi IvyWren! I always felt hungry on Olanzapine and gained on it quickly and because of this they switched me to Aripiprazole (“Abilify”). I actually lost weight on it.

HelenMW profile image

Hello IvyWren

Congratulations on the birth of your daughter! Glad to read that your mood is getting better and you are enjoying bonding with your little girl. My PP was in May 1988 so quite a few years ago. I had my little girl in May and began my recovery in August. I remember very clearly the feeling of beginning to bond after the weeks in and out of the psychiatric unit. I was on Lithium for a year afterwards and also amytriptyline. I think the key thing during this time is to take pressure off yourself in what ever way you can. easier said than done I know.

I wanted to write a bit about eating and weight gain. I think I have battled with my weight for many years and definitely have a sweet tooth. The fact that we lived in a sweet shop when I was little didn't help! Also I slept in the stock room!! Midnight feasts were so easy. Last May 2020 I had a thyroid problem which caused weight to fall off unknowingly. My consultant said that if I go back to eating the way I did then the weight would come back, or I could make some changes and keep to the weight I got down to. I made a few changes. The changes I made were to eat less bread. Bread seems to set off a desire to eat more, and I would always want butter. I don't completely exclude any food group but gluten free bread when I fancy is fine. Beetroot wraps also interesting! For breakfast I found a sugar free granola made by Kelloggs and that was really nice. I had it with coconut milk to make a change. For my sweet tooth, I find if I have a couple of squares of really dark (90%) chocolate I don't want to eat the whole bar!! I have been having half a grapefruit for breakfast which seems to fill me up and curb cravings. I also have increased my exercise so I walk a lot now and like swimming. In the sea preferably but the local leisure centre has organised lane swimming and that ticks the box. In the evenings when I feel peckish I have hobbies on the go which for me are knitting squares which I then crochet into blankets. No patterns to follow just plain knitting. I found two really nice herbal teas which I like and I don't want to eat biscuits with them! One is Pukka Womankind and the other is English Tea Shop Beautiful Me!!

I am just back from a camping trip to South Wales and I know I will have put some weight on but now that I am home I will get back into my plan. I do have a Fitbit to track steps and calories but that wont be everyone's choice.

Sending warm wishes, thinking of you and your little girl. Helen x

Pikorua profile image
PikoruaVolunteer in reply to HelenMW

Interesting read, Helen. Wishing you well x

I definitely experience eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and bowls of cereal at night I was on Olanzapine Once my doctor weaned me off of the medicine I lost 15 pounds I was able to start taking vitamins that I went to a nutritionist I was not taking any vitamins while I was on medicine I was afraid of counteraction but once I was off it was amazing I had amazing energy focus but I also do prayer meditation exercise journaling and surrounding myself with positive people And I do fun activities with my baby boy which brings me so much joy I tried to force myself to do everything all at once but Patience is the key and trust That everything will work out in time I had my son almost two years ago And finally I’m not afraid To surround myself with people or tell my story that helps also Because I want to Help other mothers All the best to you and your baby girl take good care 🙏❤️🤗

Hi IvyWren, I’ve heard both Olanzapine and Lithium can increase appetite. I was less worried about my body four months post-recovery. I was feeling alive and happy again, so the physical form took a backseat. I won’t give unsolicited advice. All I can say is that life is short and we should all embrace being well for as long as we can.

Lilly53 profile image

Hi IvyWren

As Naomi_at_app and HelenMW already said, it’s great to hear your mood is improving and your relationship with your little girl is growing. And what a beautiful profile picture.

I’ve had PP twice now (my first episode was 10 years ago). I’ve no experience of medication side effects because my treatment was weekly visits from a CPN. But I’ve got lots of experience of comfort/binge eating.

I’ve a really sweet tooth (like you I can easily demolish a whole pack of biscuits!). I’m not overweight and also eats lots of healthy stuff so people don’t see my problem. But, the other week, when I was eating hot chocolate powder (because we had nothing else left in the house!) I made a conscious decision to try and change my behaviour. I’d also eaten a whole family sized cheesecake by lunchtime that same week. And 2021 was the year I had to rebuy my sons eater eggs. Because I’d eaten them all before Easter!!

But I’m now a whole week without eating sweet stuff. It’s honestly a minor miracle in my life! Especially as our cupboards are stocked with lovely treats. But I’m barely thinking about them.So I thought I’d share what I think is helping me.

I’m ssssslllllooooowing down. I’ve done quite a bit of online yoga in the last year which has helped me become more mindful in the moment of what I’m doing (in this case what I’m eating). So I can now pause when I feel a craving coming on. By that I mean I take a breath in and slowly breath out while observing my thoughts (without judgement - if possible!). I then try to ride the feeling/wave of a craving.

Like the other day I craved sweetness while working from home. I observed my mind go through loads of tasty options (it was actually interesting!). It/I thought grab anything, get cereal with honey, you want toast and jam etc etc. All the usual faves of mine! I would usually race downstairs and mindlessly binge. But I breathed, let the feelings/thoughts pass then calmly walked and got some roasted peanuts (which I also like). Or another time I grabbed a smallish piece of cheese and a carrot. Or the other day I had a piece of toast without the jam. All the while very slowly buttering it. I hope each day my resistance to sugar will become greater!! I do hope to still enjoy a slice of cake etc sometime soon. But my sim would be to not end up eating the whole cake!

I see Delucia above (who has experienced medication side effects) mentioned she had found mediation beneficial. I guess yoga can be a sort of moving mediation.

I’m also drinking more water.

I’m also focusing on wanting to know how I will feel in a few more weeks if I keep doing this. For example, I’m so tired all the time currently! I even went for a health check up last month. My thyroid and iron levels etc were all fine but my cholesterol was a bit high. So Ive further motivation not to binge eat unhealthy foods.

At 4 months you sound like you are doing really well in your recovery. Being a new parent is exhausting and energy sapping at the best of times! And PPis such a traumatic thing to go through. Be kind to yourself. Perhaps make time for the things you enjoy most and try to relax/rest/feel re-energised that way? As HelenMW says like exercise, or hobbies. I love listening to music. It really lifts my mood too. Is there something else you would like to do? Perhaps a family member could help out and give you half an hour. Or some exercises class you take babies along?

Apologies for my long post but it really stuck a chord with me.

I wish you continued success in your recovery and lots of lovely time making memories with your little girl.

Do keep in touch if helpful. There’s always someone here to listen.

Pikorua profile image
PikoruaVolunteer in reply to Lilly53

Lovely to read your account Lilly53

Pikorua profile image

Congratulation on the birth of your baby daughter. How are you both doing?Thank you for sharing your experiences. I believe it is so supportive to share our stories and struggles, but also reflecting on positive steps forward.

I have had PPP in 2010 and was sectioned. I have not had a positive experience at a Psychiatric Unit and probably would have been much better of in an MBU with my baby. I was often put into isolation and experienced unreasonable treatment, including false diagnosis initially and inappropriate meds. My partner had to make sure to get food into the hospital as they did not cater well for vegetarian.

I was diagnosed in 2018 with bipolar. I believe I am "mood eating" nowadays, but I am so hyperactive that I always keep at my weight. When recovering from PPP weight gain and loss was like a roller coaster depending on type of medication. Side effects of traditional meds were constipation, thus I remember feeling pretty blown up and very unhappy. Its been a while as I weaned off meds.

Take good care you doing so exceptionally well as your PPP is still raw and only a few months ago...I was looked after by my partner full time and recovery was rather slow as I only found help via APP in order to get a second opinion for my ongoing Insomnia and cycling mood swings.

Bye for now x

Hi IvyWren , so wonderful that you are bonding with your little girl! Bless you both. How many mg of Olanzapine are you on? I am on 5mg and my appetite is huge

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