Feeding a Depressive Episode

Marcia Purse Health Guide
  • I've talked before about having diabetes. Although type 2 diabetes does run in my family, I'm wholly convinced that the reason mine developed is that I gained SO much weight from psychiatric medications. I never had high blood pressure or high cholesterol before gaining this weight, and I never had blood sugar problems, either.


    Another telltale piece of evidence is that when my cholesterol first jumped up, after I gained 30 pounds from amitriptyline, it went back down when I stopped taking the drug and lost 35 pounds. Later when I started on psych meds again, I eventually gained 80 pounds total, and currently am 55 pounds overweight.

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    And I'm depressed. It feels like I've been depressed for years. Actually, I know I've had some even-keel periods, but when you are depressed, those periods sort of fade from memory. I can't tell you the last time I was hypomanic.


    The thing is - and I'm sure you've experienced this too, diabetic or not - that when you are in a low mood, you often don't care what you eat. Many of us overeat, while others almost stop eating. Frequently, no matter how much you are eating, what you are eating is comfort food. This is generally high-carb, high-sugar food.


    I can remember when I came home from work every day and ate an entire bag of Raisinets - and this was before I was diagnosed with bipolar, before I was ever on psych meds, when I weighed 125 pounds at 5'10" tall. I can remember going to the store every Sunday morning and buying a large bag of fresh-baked apple fritters, then having one each day, warmed in the microwave and slathered with butter. I never gained any weight, either.


    Now, though, I know better. I know I need to eat healthy meals for more than one very good reason: (a) to avoid the complications of diabetes, and (b) to improve my mood - because uncontrolled blood sugar has a very definite negative effect on mood.


    I'm not doing it. I'm living on comfort food. I'm too damn depressed even to make the effort to do what I know would make me feel better.


    I keep making resolutions, too, to improve my diet. They might last a week - or just a day. Just a couple of days ago I made a pact with a friend to eat sensibly and get on a healthy sleep schedule. That lasted - on my end - a single day.


    Obviously, I don't have any answers for those of you who are in the same boat I am. If you aren't diabetic, you could still improve your mood by eating a healthy diet. If you are, like me, you are risking your physical health as well as sabotaging your mood.


    Why do I keep doing this? It's a vicious circle, to be sure. The more depressed you feel, the less you care, and the less you care, the more depressed you are.


    Yet it's within my power to break the cycle. It is far from engraved in stone. It's within your power, too. I'm trying, right now, to focus on the fact that I could damn well become crippled if I keep this up for long enough. I know a woman who went blind from diabetes, and a man who lost a leg and is on permanent dialysis because of it. Both refused to change their lifestyles and paid the consequences.


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    I do not want to be those people. And I don't want to be depressed forever, either.

Published On: March 18, 2013