Overweight, Antidepressants and TTC: Fitness tips?

Alexandra Powell Allred's picture


Dear Fitness Expert,
To give you a little history about myself, 2 years ago I tried to become pregnant. I succeeded, but unfortunately lost the baby at 3 months due to Turner Syndrome. I am trying again.

I am 5'7 ½" tall and weigh 245. I take antidepressants called Lexapro. I was told by my Ob/gyn to switch over to Prozac at 20mg. per day. I am concerned about both issues of being overweight and the antidepressant. I am currently trying to lose weight, it's just a battle for me.

Do you have any information on these topics for me?

Thanks a lot.


Hi. You've got several different issues going on here. You've been through some hard times and I am very sorry. You're a strong woman and should be proud of yourself in your quest for physical fitness, better health and, questioning your medication. (It's always good to question things).

First, you need to get a second diagnosis on your health record. This is not to say you are questioning the initial diagnosis. You are simply looking for confirmation and any additional input. It would be good to discuss why you are taking Lexapro, when it started, how much you are taking . . . Again, it's always good to get another opinion.

Having said all that, you should know there are a variety of concerns regarding anti-depressants and pregnancy. While some studies indicate the medications are perfectly safe (remember these studies are often in-house, meaning the studies are conducted by the manufacturer), other studies have shown premature birth, lower birth weights of the newborns and impaired developmental skills to name a few. Unfortunately, there is very little data on the long-term ramifications of taking these medications during pregnancy. There is simply no way to really know the risks until we see the long-term effects which could take years and that really doesn't help you. It should also be noted that on-going studies are being conducted to determine if taking these prescribed medications interfere with the conception process.

No matter where experts stand on the notion of anti-depressants and pregnancy, the overall consensus is 'less is better.' However, there are times when a person really needs to take anti-depressants. Depression -- untreated -- can negatively impair the human brain which will ultimately affect your unborn baby. This is a heavy reality you must consider. Again, this is why it is imperative to speak to several professionals about your condition and the need for anti-depressants. Just as we have many qualified physicians, there has also been a growing trend to prescribe anti-depressants (which may be addictive and eventually become a necessity) for people who are simply feeling the blues. Both conditions must be taken seriously!

In regards to your weight condition, it is a common complaint. But there is good news. I have been involved with a variety of studies in which women who were overweight actually LOST weight while they were pregnant. Working with a nutritionist, they were able to completely change the way they ate, actually burned fat, built muscle and walked away with a beautiful new baby and less pounds. Amazing.

You can do this while you are "in training" for pregnancy. By working with a licensed nutritionists, you will learn what and how to eat and chose foods that will improve your health, mood (yes, it's true!) and fitness level. These things combined will help you sculpt your body. It will not happen overnight but it will happen.

Given your background, it is imperative that you find a nutritionist with a PhD in health/food sciences. Unfortunately, almost anyone can call themselves a nutritionist. I cannot tell you how many women had long, frustrating stories about diets/the weight battle but began to see results as soon as they sat down with a qualified nutritionist/trainer.

Finally, more studies have been conducted on the success of conception based upon the lifestyle of the woman. Stress, depression and fatigue all figure prominently as obstructing the ability to conceive. By asking the questions you've asked, you are already fighting back against these factors! The best news of all is you can't lose by following these steps. No matter what, you are building a better you. Corny, yes, but very true.

Please keep us posted on your journey!

-- Alex