Weight Gain from Antipsychotics/Tardive Dyskinesia

Many of us bipolar and schizophrenics take antipsychotic medicine. I’m one of those who developed Tardive Dyskinesia, a syndrome of involuntary muscle movements. Normally they are seen in the mouth and jaw. The person looks like they are chewing constantly. Some people have it in their neck and their head bobs from side to side, rolling around all day. Most people can take Cogentin for this and it’s an easy deal for them. I was not so lucky. I get blackouts from Cogentin and Topamax, for that matter.  I went for a search for symptom control that lasted three years. One of the drugs that helps me with my symptoms, paradoxically is the first of the atypical antipsychotics developed, Clozaril.

Clozaril is a big weight gainer. I got up to 220 lbs. A former Model and actor, I have body image issues you can’t believe. There is more to the story of the risks of antipsychotic meds. The weight gain leads to metabolic syndrome (a disproportionate amount of weight around the stomach and into the internal organs), hyperinsulinism, and finally diabetes type two.

Once on Clozaril, I became a person with “Binge Eating Disorder.” Eating, itself, made me ravenous. I would be hungrier after an entire meal than if I never ate at all. Due to the fact that I also have ADHD, I went on the new FDA approved for Binge Eating Disorder drug, Vyvanse. I would visit the doctors who I see bi-annually and they would say, “Allison, you seem different, so clearer, there’s a light in your eyes, what are you doing differently?” (and that was before the weight came off!)  A psychiatrist I saw for a second opinion occasionally for the Tardive Dyskinesia was so impressed with the change in me that he doubled my dose without me even asking!  I was enthusiastic, happy, motivated to write.

Vyvanse is not on my formulary, so it cost 100 a month to be  on it. The weight fell off, taking a year to lose that 50 lbs. I craved salads and fruits, rather than sugar. I got tired of paying for the Vyvanse, and because it simply metabolizes as Adderall in the body, I started to use Adderall.  I had a good three years there. I had no food issues. But recently, I became uncomfortable with how the Adderall was making me feel. It wore off too fast and I was ravenous again. So I stopped taking on Memorial Day. And boy have I been depressed. Paid a high price for physical health. Let me ask you, what’s worse, depression or diabetes?  I’m still trying to figure this out .It’s almost been thirty days and I’m gaining weight quickly. So I’ve eliminated bread and sugar. I’m seeing an acupuncturist for weight control and depression. I don’t want to go back to this:   tribal 013outofthewater-001

11 thoughts on “Weight Gain from Antipsychotics/Tardive Dyskinesia

  1. When you figure out the solution please share it with the rest of us. It’s just another roller coaster we fight daily.


    • Hi, BBN. I am working on this. Part of it is balance. Another part is discontinuing or moderating the food that is the most triggering, like bread and sugar and other rapidly digesting starches. No chocolate croissants. I’m missing going to the cheesecake factory and eating the sourdough bread, as in my depression, wheat and other breads hit the pleasure centers, feed the production of serotonin and lighten things up. So right now, in my depression, it feels like I am making a huge sacrifice. I’m depressed to the point where I am not exercising, but in the past I have found exercising counter productive and releasing the trigger for binge eating. I’m almost better off not exercising, as odd as that may seem. I paid a very high price for the Vyvanse/Adderall use. I’m still paying it. I’m not sure what I think. but I know this much. I’m definitely going to write about it, and gonna take no prisoners. I am eating a lot of low sugar bulky fruits like strawberries with splenda and two steamed vegetables as well as small portions of rice. I’ve got nausea hunger, where the healthy foods, even after I’ve shopped and chopped and prepared them, make me sick. I’m not sure where I am. In three days I’ve lost two pounds. The absence of bread and other starch is hard but the results are instant. In Overeaters anonymous they preach no flour no sugar. It’s a hard regimen to maintain, requires a ton of meal planning and even carrying things like peanut butter celery sticks around in a cooler. I make my own almond/almond milk protein powder protein drinks for the AM, salad with meat for lunch with a fruit and a balanced dinner. All things considered, I am not a saint. My doctor wants me to go on Evekeo, which is half a stimulating as Adderall so that my depression crash is more gradual. I’m not sure. Will it take me backwards? I want to naturally heal. I think that’s all for now. Thanks BBN, LC. BBB


    • if I had to do over again, I’d stick with the weight gain and better mental state. Paid a high price for ADHD meds. And two psychs I saw said they made such a positive difference in my ‘mentation’ and clear eyes and posture…they just kept increasing dose.


      • I took Ritalin for awhile. I think I might have ADHD too, but never really got diagnosed by a dr, but was prescribed that to “wake” me up. I had to admit it made me more focused, but the dose had to be constantly updated. Never tried Adderall. My rhuematologist won’t try Lyrica for the Fibro because it causes major weight gain and I can’t gain anymore.


  2. I think if you don’t have depression, you have won 3/4 of the war. Seriously, Tessa. I am so depressed I didn’t go on social media all weekend, didn’t take little walks or go to the beach which is near.


    • I am sorry to hear you depression is so bad. I am still stable, 8 weeks now, but when depressed it is serious. I start thinking suicide right away. Have to stay away from there if possible. Not a good place to be.


    • Dear Tessa, how come there is a reply font on the above comment but not for the comment you just made about Ritalin. Was gonna ask you about that. did you have depression when you came off? I asked my pharmacist about MAOI’s today and he said in his opinion I’m on too many other meds but between you me and the fenceposts, I can stop taking the benzos and pain stuff, have no more pain. It gets taken once a week, maybe. So, other then Tegretol….and if I discontinue this new ADHD med that I got put on yesterday….what Drug-Drug interactions are there? Also, there are dietary restrictions with MAOI’s. In the past what has worked twice when depressed has been to go on something that I took in the distant past with good results. That list would include Wellbutrin, Prozac, Pristiq and something I never took Effexor. Some people say these antidepressants are all the same but I beg to differ. Sometimes they work a lot quicker than 4 weeks, but not my experience this time. I’ll betcha though that in a few months, another new antidepressant will come out and it will be hot. If history repeats. thanks for all the responses. They give me the controlled crap due to the tardive dyskinesia & uncontrolled thrashing…muscles in my back are impacted but it’s gotten a lot better. Probably because I broke a bone in foot and haven’t exercised. A bad thing happens and something good comes out of it. That’s why we blog, right?


      • They give you so many comments and then it stops and you go either up to the last one or when you hit comment if you read the comment box that comes up it has the name of the person that you are commenting to and you can copy there and it does pretty good getting it in order. No I did not get depressed coming off Ritalin.


  3. I don’t go to ‘suicide’ I go to a place of self medication….like taking benzos to sleep day away or other meds that have a side effect of sleepiness or euphoria. I am more of a druggie “better living through chemistry type.” The docs all say (due to my cheery affect) that I don’t need hospital ….I’m thinking about ending my life more this time. How long have you had BP?


    • I have had BP since I was a little girl. I am 58 now, long time, and a long time feeling so awful. Unmedicated, moody, awful. As an infant I was tranquilized.They say it gets worse after menopause and I am well into menopause. Came early for me. And I would say it got worse for sure. Not being able to find a working combination, but my psyche nurse is good and went back to the old ones and found one that worked for me. She is amazing.I have self-medicated at times. I keep my old pills that I can’t take just in case I want to swallow them again. Which isn’t good and actually means I have a plan and I think my therapist and my nurse would be quite upset if they knew. I have no more alcohol because that would make it even easier. When I made the attempt I swallowed a bottle of wine and a whole handful of pills. Not strong enough, but it landed me in the psyche ward because I was still intent on doing it. I am surprised they even let me have control of my medications. I will not try it again. I upset the kids so bad I couldn’t go through that again. So thoughts come, thoughts go one way or the other. I seek immediate help.

      Do you have Borderline Personality Disorder as well? That is one of my new dx. Found that one in the hospital. Along with PTSD. I have also suffered from anxiety, panic attacks, OCD and agoraphobia.

      Take care of yourself please! ❤


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