Was your body weight an issue during ... - Action on Postpar...

Action on Postpartum Psychosis
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Was your body weight an issue during your PP experience?


Did you gain or lose weight & how did it make you feel? Did you feel the need to lose any gained weight? At what stage in your recovery did you feel able to do this & how?

24 Replies

During my experience of PP I didn`t gain weight. After several months when my son was about 7 months old I started having episodes of very high and low moods. Eventually I was diagnosed with Bipolar and started on Lithium. It was then that I gained weight. I gained three stone within six months of starting on Lithium. Since then my weight has fluctuated a lot. I have battled with my weight ever since. I try to lose weight and then I put it back on. I feel more able to focus on losing weight now but I have found it hard to put my mind to it especially when other stressful things are going on. I used to think that I`m well and that`s what matters but more recently I am more determined to lose weight.

in reply to sarah_at_app

During the duration of my illness I gained a total nearly 4 stone. It wasn't til almost 2 and half years later when I had fully recovered when I fully came off all my medication that I finally began to lose the weight. It took me nearly a year to lose the weight.

in reply to Hidden

I was the same Louloubexs, not quite as much though - 4 stone, wow! I couldn't even think about losing the weight until I'd stopped the medication & felt strong enough to. It came off relatively quickly after that & once I'd put my mind to it. It's yet another challenge for us but so great to feel normal again once we've got there! :-) x

Florence21Action on Postpartum Psyc
in reply to sarah_at_app

Hi Sarah. I also take lithium and it has been great for me: I like that it is a naturally occurring salt, that I can take tiny pills only on going to bed (I used to find it hard to swallow big stuff) and - most of all - that it has kept me well!

I think I put on about half a stone when I started taking it but I know I was lucky; many people seem to put on weight with it but not as much as with some other mood stabilisers.

I suppose it would be good to encourage new mums coping at home after an episode of PP to think about exercise - and perhaps for friends to visit for a walk in the park instead of tea?

in reply to Florence21

Hi Florence,

Thanks for your reply. I agree and yes the important thing is Lithium keeps us well. There will always be side effects which affect us all differently but it`s a very small price to pay for keeping well.

I can`t say it was the Lithium alone which caused the weight gain for me as shortly after I started on Lithium I had several stressful events in my life which I think were contributing factors.

Your idea of encouraging new Mum`s after having PP to exercise is a great idea and would also help aid recovery.

I gained 5 stone on Olanzapeine and it made me feel terrible, at a time my confidence was already low, I have managed to lose 2 stone of that before becoming pregnant again so I have never managed to lose it all. I am currently pregnant but have watched my weight carefully and hope that with different medication and more awareness I will not be in the same situation again.

in reply to hel212000

Hi hel212000, a big welcome to the site! I can fully relate to how the weight gain knocks your confidence especially when it's at an all-time low from PP already. With 5 stone gain it's totally understandable that you don't feel yourself! Well done in losing 2 stone! I think just being aware of the weight issue this time will help keep it down & now you know that you can lose it if you want to as & when you're ready. Good luck with your pregnancy! With the extra awareness & knowledge you've now got, I'm sure everything will be far smoother for you & very different from last time. Take it easy, we're here if you need us :-)

Thanks Andrea, I am actually 28 weeks pregnant with twins, but have kept weight gain to a minimum, and will not be on Olanzpeine after the birth so although I will be medicated I am hoping it will not have the same awful effects that Olanzepeine did. Although the weight gain was horrendous I would rather be well and overweight than still ill. I am determined to lose the weight this time round though!

I gained about 15 kilograms as I recovered from the illness and adjusted to my medication (Olanzapine, anti-depressants and Epilim). I have lost the weight now, nearly 4 years later.

in reply to orac

Hi orac, a big welcome to the site to you too! Well done losing the 15 kilos, it does take time & for me it was best not to rush it. I found I couldn't even think about the physical side & losing the extra weight until I felt more myself mentally, & as Sarah said, it's a small price to pay for staying well! That's great your body's adjusted to your medication & I guess you monitor it now (as we all do!). Thanks for the comment :-)

Hi everyone! Back in 2004 I was put on Olanzapine (Zyprexa). The psychiatrist mentioned that I could put on some weight so to be careful what I eat. Seriously, I was ravenous on that medication. Within 3 months I had gained 20kg! I can only call that, neglect, on the part of the psychiatrist forkeeping me on that medication. That was in 2004. In 2008 I again was hospitalised with PP and was even started on the same medication by a different psychiatrist despite my disagreeing with him. I was on it for 3 days when the blood test results showed it to cause major problems metabolically and was taken straight off it. Thank goodness for my current psychiatrist. I have only managed to lose 9 kgs the last 8 months this year....8 years later! I found the lithium I was on a few years ago just kept my weight stable. But yeah, weight issues for me have added a lot of depression along the way. Finding out I am lactose intolerant has also aided in the shift in weight, happily downwards.

Hi everyone and welcome to anyone new to the site. Gosh, weight gain has obviously been an issue for many of us with the PP medication.

I too, like Kaiti, felt ravenous on the Olanzapine. While I was on the ward I would feel continuously hungry - it was incredible how I would seek out food. It was near Christmas time so there were lost of chocolates around and I couldn't get enough in a kind of "I feel starving" way. Despite being the least frightening aspect of being ill, the huge appetite was so unlike me it did freak me out and no-one bothered to mention it was a common side-effect of the medication. I gained weight so rapidly that I acquired stretch marks which was cruelly ironic since I didn't get them during pregnancy. In fact, I had lost weight whilst pregnant because I was so sick; it came as a shock to be getting bigger and bigger as each week passed after I was admitted to hospital.

In the space of a few months I had gained about 2.5 stone. It added to the sense of my loss of identity - I didn't recognise the person in the mirror and could not bear to look at myself. Despite curbing what I ate, the weight stayed the same. Eventually I mentioned the weight gain to my care team (months later) and they changed the Olanzapine to Amilsulpride. My appetite wasn't as voracious on this medication but it had other horrid side-effects which I put up with for far too long. Eventually they changed me to Quetiapine, but I gained a stone on this in just 1 month. 15 months after my son was born I was 12 stone and for my 5ft3 frame this was not easy to come to terms with. I felt so low in confidence. My body image was not wonderful before but at least I felt like me.

When I came off the medication fully was the only time I was able to lose the weight. I did try whilst still on it when I felt mentally able but because it didn't make a blind bit of difference I stopped dieting. It was too depressing whilst still popping the pills that caused the weight to pile on. Almost as soon as I came off the meds I joined weight watchers online and slowly and steadily lost either 2 or 1lb a week. I managed to lost 2 stone before I became pregnant again. During the pregnancy I was very sick again so lost a further half stone. Once I gave birth I was nearly back to my normal weight pre-PP but the preventative meds made me gain weight again, this time only half a stone thankfully. I didn't mind too much - it was a small price to pay for not going through PP again. I've lost that half stone just from running around atter 2 small children and never getting a chance to eat a full meal probably, but I seem to fluctuate with that final half stone to lose that the PP meds seem to have stubbornly left behind!

Before the pregnancy and the PP I really have to consider my weight - I now realise how depressing and demoralising it is when weight gain affects your self image and drags you down.

The weight gain was a huge part of the depression I felt during the long dark months after the psychosis. I find it hard to look at the few photos I have of me during that time. I look physically unlike me because I am so big and I can see the sadness in my eyes too. I look awkward in my own skin and that is how I felt until I was recovered. I am sure losing the weight helped me feel more like myself again and added to my recovery.

in reply to HopeafterPP

Hi HopeafterPP,

Congrats on having 2 small children :) I really think that the weight gain is a huge issue for people recovering from PP or depression etc. I still can't believe I ever reached that size and spend most days just loathing myself not even looking in the mirror. Mirrors have seemed to play a role in my experience of psychosis. I found myself staring in the mirror during my first one feeling totally disconnected from my body, seeing my reflection as foreign. I kept complaining that "something is wrong with me" only to have the staff at emergency dept at the local hospital keep assuring me that it was a normal grief reaction (my baby had just died a few days before). I was prescribed diazepam and sent home as I was not sleeping in the evening and couldn't relax. I was hospitalised involuntarily within days after my baby died as I had become suicidal. There was a story on the tv about a couple of kids that committed suicide, the idea popped in my head and I was convinced that the hospital would not believe me sicne they kept sending me home and that I would get locked up in a psychiatric institution and be forever in pain and never to see my family again. Thankfully my next door neighbour saw me walking the highway in my robe and bedsocks and I got picked up and taken to the hospital with a note in my hand. Oo gee I got a bit carried away here...must find somewhere to write my stories as the memories are still so intense. They are fascinating in as much as they frighten the hell outta me!

I am curious, what meds were you put on during/after your pregnancy to prevent another case of PP?


Hi Kati,

I am so sorry to hear of the loss of your baby and to have experienced PP afterward must have been totally horrific.

I would be very interested to read your story once you are ready. I too like HopeafterPP when on to have a second pregnancy and remained well.

I had a 4 year gap after my first son, then fell pregnant with no-id twin boys. I was so scared. I choose not to take any meds during my pregnancy especially with carrying twins and the fact I was high risk already with my previous PP episode and a multiple pregnancy.

I had an amazing care team in place, and I went to seek advise before even trying for a baby as I wanted to know my risks etc. I was told that they'd be a 70% risk of having another episode of PP if I wasn't to take meds, even if I did take meds they still couldn't say for sure whether I would be ok or not.

To cut a very long story short, I started on medication the day I had the twins;

Day 1- 50 mg

Day 2 - 100mg

Day 3 - 150 mg

Day 4 - 200 mg

Day 5 - 250 mg

Day 6 - 300 mg of Quetiapine. I maintained on 300mg then reduced it month by month over a six month period. I still have gained 3 stones on this medication. I am now just starting the weight loss journey a second time round :( but i'd rather than gained weight than suffered another episode of PP.


I gained weight on Olanzapine and Lithium. Ironically I stopped eating early days of my illness and lost all my baby weight! But the Olanzapine made me soooo hungry and my weight crept up probably 10kg or so in total. I've stopped Lithium now too but the very common side-effect of thyroid damage has happened and it's under-active. Not too bad at the moment according to tests but they're monitoring it (initially through the Lithium bloods, now on its own). It will eventually pack in though as I have antibodies apparently and I'll end up on Thyroxin. All a small price to pay for my good health now but I know I need to shift a stone or two, especially as hoping to try for another baby before too long. Finding time and inclination is more difficult however!

I gained 2 stone in the first 2 months of Olanzapine and have gained another half during the following 4 months. I hate it, I loathe the way I feel and look. I just want to be at a healthy bmi again. It's getting me down so much that I'm considering not taking the medication but I don't want to risk relapse. I've spoken to the mental health team and they're not going to change the medication. I feel silly for caring so much about something so trivial.

in reply to ontheup

I really understand how you feel & it's not a trivial thing at all. It's incredibly hard to feel like yourself when physically you look & feel nothing like how you were before - you don't even recognise yourself! It totally floors your self-esteem which is already so fragile after PP. I can say though that there's a lot of hope & it really is a case of hanging in there. Most of us found that when the time was right, it all came off far quicker & easier than we expected & we did get back to how we were before.

I found it really hard to want to exercise in the midst of depression (hard enough just getting out of bed!) & the pressure to exercise was hard too - it made me more guilty. I had to wait until the time was right & I felt mentally strong enough before I could even think about it. Others I know found short walks, gentle swimming with a friend etc. very helpful throughout. Don't stop taking your medication though, it's that that'll get you through. You could always explain to your mental health team again exactly how much it's affecting you & ask again if there is anything they can adjust/change either now or in the future?

Try not to focus on your weight (hard I know) & try to keep in mind that it might take time, but you will be YOU again. I guess it's a case of not being hard on yourself now & taking comfort knowing that you WILL lose it when you're ready.


Hello ontheup,

So good to hear from you. You're not silly at all and have done so well to come this far. I would be guided by your care team about medication.

Feels like your stuck between a rock and a hard place right now? I know it's not easy but try not to worry. Focus on the positives .... you are doing so well, being on medication, coping with the routine of life, caring for your family, is not easy.

In time, slowly but surely, you will regain the healthy bmi you had. Give yourself a hug and be proud.

Take good care of yourself.


Hello ontheup,

I've been thinking about you and wonder how you are feeling. Did you see your care team this week?

It's all very well for me to sit here and tell you all will be well in time as you have 'conquered' so much already. I haven't been on Olanzapine as my two episodes of PP were long ago, though I do remember looking in the mirror, or at my reflection, and feeling like a blob. I even have photos which were taken midway I would say through my recovery and it's very hard to recognise 'me'.

I really admire your courage and hope you will soon feel better about yourself.

Take good care.

Thank you for thinking of me. I've relapsed because I began to skip the odd dose. The medication has been put up again and I'm taking it properly now.

in reply to ontheup

Hi ontheup

Just sending a big hug and sorry to hear that you have had a relapse. Please don't feel guilty as the side effects are a really hard thing to accept and lots of us have also 'tweaked' our medication and realised that we need it for a bit longer.

In the longer term if you do find you need a maintenance dose of an antipsychotic (I now take a low dose as a mood stabiliser) it is worth having a conversation with your psychiatrist or GP about alternative antipsychotics with less metabolic side effects. Whilst taking Olanzapine, I have found it possible to lose weight slowly by eating low-carb low-sugar and doing the couch to 5k running app. It's been quite hard work but I think accepting that keeping my weight stable is a major achievement and really congratulating myself on each lb lost has helped.

Be really kind to yourself - lots of rest and self care, maybe a nice magazine or a manicure - as you recover from this blip. We're here for as long as you need.

Naomi x


Hello ontheup, Thanks for taking the time to reply. I'm sorry to hear you had a relapse but hopefully you will feel stronger soon. We are all here thinking about you.

Try and take it easy, you have been through so much.


Hello ontheup,

Thinking about you and hope you are ok.

Don't worry about replying, we are just here for you.

Take good care of yourself.

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