from medical and nutritional professionals.
Serotonin Power Blog
Many studies affirm what any failed dieter knows well: stress is a trigger for the consumption and overconsumption of calorie-dense, usually nutrient-weak foods. When we are stressed, we lose control of our ability to say “no” to unhealthy choices and it’s harder to stop when we feel full.
If snacking is just driven not by hunger or a desire to taste chocolate chip cookies, but by an individual’s emotional need, as it so often is, then a relaxed, restrained, Zen-like approach to selecting snacks may be difficult to achieve.
Anyone who has eaten when frustrated, angry, bored, worried, exhausted, lonely, or depressed—but not hungry—has engaged in emotional eating
(So that makes most of us.) And for most, the food eaten is less likely to be steamed broccoli, poached chicken breast, or fat-free yogurt and far more likely to be a member of the so-called carbohydrate junk food family.
She wouldn’t remember. Why would she? It was at least 15 years ago since I appeared as the only guest on her afternoon television program, discussing the benefits of carbohydrates on mood and controlling appetite. After I wrote a book on how nutrients can influence mental performance and mood, one of her many producers asked me to be on her show.
Like hair loss during chemotherapy, weight gain while on antidepressants is not, fortunately, inevitable. And like hair loss, gaining weight should not be justification for refusing treatment with these drugs, as they may be very effective for a variety of mental disturbances, fibromyalgia, and even menopausal hot flushes. Unfortunately, for those who find themselves gaining weight within weeks of starting on their antidepressants or mood stabilizers, losing this weight is much harder than growing back hair after its loss from chemotherapy.
Side effects from medications are common, although usually not severe enough to halt treatment. Anyone who has listened, perhaps unwillingly, to a recital of side effects associated with a television advertisement for a medication is aware of the number of health problems that might arise while taking that particular drug. But unless the side effect is death (the announcer always seems to mumble at this point), one assumes most of these adverse events go away when the medication is no longer taken.
As I was walking past the Vitamin section of CVS, I heard the word serotonin pass between a young man and a saleswoman. “I can’t find any 5HTP on the shelf,” he was telling her, “…You know, the stuff that makes serotonin? I need some for stress!” She peered at the supplement stocked shelves and nodded. “We must be all out,” she responded. “But there is a health food store a few blocks away. Maybe they have some.”
To Sally (not her real name), who wrote to me recently about her 100-pound weight gain after being given antidepressant medications for fibromyalgia, the recent study carried out by a group from the Massachusetts General Hospital will come as a surprise.