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Forums / Treatments, health professionals and therapies / My antidepressant turned my natural lean muscle tone into fat and its not getting better :(

Topic: My antidepressant turned my natural lean muscle tone into fat and its not getting better :(

25 posts, 0 answered
  1. rixon
    rixon avatar
    11 posts
    12 March 2019

    Hello there,

    I’m a 34 year old male who started taking medication to treat my anxiety and depression in early December 2018. I took one tablet a day for just a month before stopping.

    Although I could definitely feel the treatment was helping my mood, I noticed that the composition of my body began to change quickly. I began to lose my naturally lean muscle in my arms and chest and grow a layer of fat (giving me a man boob look). My stomach muscles also became incredibly soft and lost all their natural tone. It actually seemed like all of the muscles in my body softened considerably in just a matter of weeks.

    I did not make any modifications to my diet or exercise habits during this period, leading me to believe that these changes can only be related to this medication. Also, rather than putting on weight (which was what I was initially concerned about), I have lost several kilograms. I assume this is because I have lost muscle mass but I cannot be sure.

    I was worried that this medication may have affected my hormone levels (mainly testosterone), but all my tests have apparently come back normal. My doctor is perplexed at what has happened to my body in such a small space of time as there is no mention of muscle determination/fat accumulation in the listed side effects. Also, other than a couple of anecdotal reports, there is very little information about this phenomenon online.

    It has now been over 2 months since I have stopped this medication, and despite my regular cardiovascular exercise, weight training and healthy eating the problem has not resolved.

    I feel very self-conscious about what has happened to my body (particularly my chest) and feel even worse than I did before starting the medication. I worry that my body composition may have now permanently changed or will at least remain in such a state for a long time.
    Has anyone experienced or come across anything like I have described? If so, what more can I do to try and recover from this?

    Thank you

    Ricky

  2. CrazyGecko89
    CrazyGecko89 avatar
    37 posts
    12 March 2019 in reply to rixon

    Hi Rixon

    I took antidepressants for a year but while they worked I felt fatigued all day every day during that time and despite a reasonable diet plus 30min daily exercise I have the same problem too, while the belly doesn't bother me the man boobs do. I understand that the medication affects everyone differently but it should be a permanent problem hopefully.

    Where you taking anything else around that time? As for myself I'm taking medication to reduce cholesterol but one of the side effects for that is muscle problems.

    1 person found this helpful
  3. blondguy
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    blondguy avatar
    10501 posts
    12 March 2019 in reply to rixon

    Hi Rixon (and a wave to CrazyGecko89)

    Welcome to you and thankyou for posting too! I have been on AD's for 22 years to help me reduce the severity of chronic anxiety attacks. I was 36 when I started the script and my (own) anxiety reduced reduced by approx 70% within a couple of weeks....phew!

    The AD's can sometimes make us fatigued (as Gecko89 mentioned) I havent heard of any issue with losing our muscular definition until now yet it doesnt surprise me.

    I was also 'ripped' prior to taking the AD's...There may have been a tiny bit of weight gain but nothing super noticeable..come to think of it Rixon...yes there was an increase albeit slight..in weight around the chest

    If you think about your system prior to the meds...having any level of awful anxiety is fueled by an excess of adrenaline...which is a huge calorie burner as anxiety symptoms usually do cause...

    Just from my experience I am certain that there isnt any link with AD's and testosterone that I am aware of...My anxiety started in 1983 when I was 23...I will be asking my GP the next time I see him in April..thats for sure

    Interesting post Rixon....Good1.....Can I ask how you are going with your anxiety after stopping the meds?

    I really hope you can stick around the forums and post back when its convenient for you. Any questions are always welcome!

    My kind thoughts for you

    Paul

    2 people found this helpful
  4. rixon
    rixon avatar
    11 posts
    12 March 2019 in reply to CrazyGecko89

    Thanks for the reply Gecko.

    So you are off ADs now? If so, how long have you been off? Do you still have the side effect problems?

    The only other thing I was taking was an over the counter iron supplement. I wonder if this could have been a factor in this mess I am...

  5. rixon
    rixon avatar
    11 posts
    12 March 2019 in reply to blondguy

    Thanks for reply Paul.

    My current level on anxiety is actually still a lot better than it was before starting the SSRI... Yes, it was awful back then. Whilst this is good in some ways, it makes me think that my brain chemistry was significantly altered by the drug and that is why I am still having these side effects months after stopping. However, I feel far more depressed now than before because of what has happened. I have some damning before and after photos which I really want to share if possible. I just don't know what else I can do except keep on doing what I'm doing now and wait :(.

  6. blondguy
    Life Member
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    blondguy avatar
    10501 posts
    12 March 2019 in reply to rixon

    Hey Rixon

    No worries at all. The AD's only boost our Serotonin levels (as some people with anxiety/depression have depleted levels of this neurotransmitter) The AD's wouldnt have an effect on your brain chemistry afterwards...just from my experience

    Im not a GP...only a volunteer here...yet it took my doctors 13 years to get me to take AD's....as I used to be very anti meds....

    Just a suggestion if I may Rixon....(just thinking out loud).......have you thought about asking a psychiatrist as they are the specialists where medication is concerned....They know the true dynamics of AD's and what they can and cant do

    You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by doing so....You may have a heavy burden lifted off your shoulders by doing so too :-)

    I have a medication review with my psychiatrist early in April...I might ask him the same question about myself re the same matter

    I hope you can stick around Rixon...I'll ask some questions

    please be gentle to yourself

    Paul

    2 people found this helpful
  7. Tess2
    blueVoices member
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    Tess2 avatar
    389 posts
    13 March 2019 in reply to rixon

    Hi,

    I am not a man, but what you describe would not be worth the benefits for me. So much about feeling ok is tied up in how we feel about ourselves. ADs have made me put on weight over the years. I was by nature thin, now I have to struggle to control my weight. I am ok at the moment, but feel better when I look better and can also cope bettetess

    1 person found this helpful
  8. CrazyGecko89
    CrazyGecko89 avatar
    37 posts
    13 March 2019 in reply to rixon
    I've been off the AD for 3 months and the side affects are still there to a degree but mainly fatigue. Only been able to knock off 1kg so far and the only part that looks remotely toned is my legs. The medication to reduce the cholesterol unfortunately causes muscle pain and dizziness which really doesn't help. Before the depression started I was around 86kg but around 98kg now.
    1 person found this helpful
  9. geoff
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    geoff avatar
    13090 posts
    13 March 2019 in reply to rixon

    Hi Rixon, and thanks for posting this thread because of all my muscle tone has well and truly disappeared and I only thought that was by my lack of exercise, but perhaps you've good a point.

    I know that my thighs have halved in size, but at my age (64) I thought that was natural, one point I'd like to say is that after many years of depression I'd rather be feeling so much better, mentally, rather than looking the part.

    I do understand what you are saying Rixon and appreciate your concern.

    Geoff.

    2 people found this helpful
  10. rixon
    rixon avatar
    11 posts
    13 March 2019 in reply to blondguy
    Thanks for the advice Paul. I might look into that, but it would be amazing if could ask that question when you have your assessment.
    1 person found this helpful
  11. rixon
    rixon avatar
    11 posts
    13 March 2019 in reply to CrazyGecko89
    As I said the strange thing i haven't gain any weight at all.. I actually lost it. I'm 178cm and have gone from 80kg to 77kg since I took the medication. However, I now have man boobs :(. I have become very obsessed about this as there has been no improvement whatsoever despite all my effort. I can no longer wear half my clothes as a lot of them are quite tight fitting and accentuate the issue. Did the manboobs only come after you started the meds? Has the situation improved at all since you stopped?
    1 person found this helpful
  12. CrazyGecko89
    CrazyGecko89 avatar
    37 posts
    13 March 2019 in reply to rixon
    The man boobs are still there unfortunately and they appeared while taking the AD. I'm trying to lose them by exercising but the muscle soreness caused by the other meds I'm taking is making the task difficult.
  13. rixon
    rixon avatar
    11 posts
    13 March 2019 in reply to CrazyGecko89
    Sucks man seems we are in the same boat :(
  14. rixon
    rixon avatar
    11 posts
    13 March 2019 in reply to CrazyGecko89
    Did you by any chance notice your arms getting fatter and losing muscle too?
  15. CrazyGecko89
    CrazyGecko89 avatar
    37 posts
    14 March 2019 in reply to rixon
    My arms didn't fatter but they became more flabby as the muscle tone dropped.
  16. blondguy
    Life Member
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    blondguy avatar
    10501 posts
    14 March 2019 in reply to rixon

    Hi Rixon (and a wave to Gecko89 Tess2 and Geoff)

    consider it done Rixon..will do as I have the same question to ask my specialist as well.

    Can I ask how severe your anxiety was prior to taking the AD's?

    my kind thoughts

    Paul

  17. rixon
    rixon avatar
    11 posts
    15 March 2019 in reply to blondguy
    At times it was severe I would say no doubt
  18. memorytrap
    memorytrap avatar
    18 posts
    15 March 2019 in reply to rixon

    Hi,

    The same thing has happened to me, I maintained my workout intensity - and in fact increased it in the last 4 months - but my body composition has changed and I am worried. Self-image is a huge factor in my depression. I am taking antideppresants. 

  19. rixon
    rixon avatar
    11 posts
    15 March 2019 in reply to memorytrap

    Sorry to hear that. Are you like me in that you haven't actually put on weight but just that your muscle has seemingly softened everywhere?

    I'm going to see a new GP tomorrow to get a second opinion and possibly a referral to a specialist of some sort if that is a possibility.

  20. memorytrap
    memorytrap avatar
    18 posts
    15 March 2019 in reply to rixon

    Yes, around my chest and abdomen. I'm unable to add any tone. I've been on and off training across my life, but usually after 4-5 months I can recover, but ever since I started taking ADs it's been different, my weight has been stable but I've lost tone. The ADs also affect my energy so maybe that is a factor.

    I'm halfway through a box, I'm going to see a doctor and just try to get off them completely. The long term defects concern me.

  21. rixon
    rixon avatar
    11 posts
    27 March 2019
    So I had some further blood work done including having my estrogen levels checked, and again, everything is normal. I have made an appointment with an endocrinologist for next week to look deeper into the issue. Maybe they won't be able to help me, but I think it's worth a try as the problem is not resolving nearly 3 months later. Will keep you updated.
  22. rixon
    rixon avatar
    11 posts
    16 April 2019

    So after having further blood work done and being examined my an endocrinologist (including having an ultrasound on my chest) the conclusion is that I do not have gynecomastia (man boobs), but apparently just have normal levels of fatty tissue in my chest. This finding seems bizarre to me as I definitely feel and look very bulky up there compared to before I started the meds, and my arms are much bigger too. The endocrinologist told me that if these changes are a result of taking the drug (which they definitely are) then they may or may not resolve in time. I am have been doing vigorous exercise almost every day and nothing really seems to be resolving except my muscles (or what I have left of them) appear a little bit firmer. I don't think there is really much left I can do other than to wait and hope for the best. Sigh

  23. blondguy
    Life Member
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    blondguy avatar
    10501 posts
    16 April 2019 in reply to rixon

    Hi Rixon

    Good on you for seeing your specialist despite the results being not what you expected

    Since there is no such question as a dumb one, can I ask if you have asked your humble GP (again) about your situation? I still see my doc every 4 weeks for a 'tune up' He has more talent than some psychologists I have seen

    As you know the most knowledgeable specialist is our psychiatrist as they have the best understanding of the meds we take (or used to) compared to anyone. 8 to 12 years at University

    I did ask my own psychiatrist about my metabolism and he mentioned that the meds do reduce our adrenaline flow by increasing our serotonin levels to curb the anxiety attacks/depression we have (had)

    For anxiety attacks to occur we are in a partial state of fear and thus will burn calories at a very fast rate and yes you mentioned that you have stopped your meds for your own reasons and fair enough

    In our 30's our metabolism slows down too Rixon.......and then there is genetics as well which another subject altogether!
    I understand that you are doing everything you can and kudos to you......please dont be too hard on yourself.

    Your posts are appreciated Rixon and even though I exercise every day I am in the same boat as you

    I wish I could have been of more help....Any questions are always welcome

    my kind thoughts

    Paul

  24. flameprincess
    flameprincess avatar
    3 posts
    18 May 2020
    Hey, just adding my experience - I’ve noticed I’m getting soft and weak one year in to my SNRI I’m tapering off it)It’s quite alarming as I’m in a physical job. My physio actually noticed it first in my legs - the lack of muscle tone. I’m female and was already on an AD (so it can’t be attributed to being new to ADs)
  25. blondguy
    Life Member
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    blondguy avatar
    10501 posts
    18 May 2020 in reply to flameprincess

    Hello flameprincess...Welcome! (and a wave to Rixon who wrote this thread)

    I havent been on SNRI's... yet have on a SSRI's for a while now and I never had a problem as they were orginally prescribed as an anti anxiety med

    Have you spoken to your GP about your physical feelings with your SNRI's?

    I hope you are doing okay flameprincess

    my kind thoughts

    Paul

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