More concerned with weight gain than my kids

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

I’m not sure where to begin. I have two kids, ages 4 & 1 and I have no interest in them anymore. I’ve struggled with depression for most of my life and PPD after I had each child.

Lately, I just feel like I’m a horrible mother and my kids would be much happier without me. I have horrible anger and have snapped, causing me to spank them. Then I end up sitting and crying and thinking about how I would rather just pack my bags and never look back. I have a wonderful husband, but he just doesn’t understand the depression.

I recently went off my antidepressant (3mos ago) because of the weight gain. I work out 4-5 days a week, starve, binge, purge (not often as I’m a “recovered” bulimic) yet I kept gaining weight, I went off my meds, switched clinics (not for this reason, for insurance reasons) and begged for weight loss meds, which were given to me and I’ve since lost almost 20lbs in 2mos.

Finally in June I started therapy again. My therapist wants me back on meds but I can’t get into see a psychiatrist and I really don’t want to go back on because I am so scared of gaining anymore weight.

I guess I’m not sure where this is going except that I’m completely lost and I don’t know what to do. I have lied about being suicidal because I am scared of being hospitalized or having my kids taken from me. I tell myself I’m not really suicidal because I know and trust that I wouldn’t actually take my own life, but I am constantly thinking about just disappearing, going away and vanishing from everyone’s thoughts. When I’m driving alone I think about how I wish I had the courage to drive off a bridge or into a tree, yet I know I wouldn’t do that because I love my kids and husband too much to hurt them like that.

I know everyone is different, but are there any antidepressants that are better then the other as far as not causing weight gain?

A: Your letter concerns me deeply. I see so much pain and yet you minimize it and disconnect from it. You are not a “recovered” bulimic. You continue with the symptoms of a significant eating disorder. You are not recovered from depression. You barely have a handle on it yet you resist taking the medicine that was helping you keep your balance because of the weight gain. This is very, very worrisome. Your concerns about weight gain have overwhelmed your concerns for yourself, your husband, and your children. I hope you will reconsider. You deserve better than this. Your husband who loves you deserves better than this. Most important, the children who love you and are dependent on you deserve a mother who isn’t thinking about ways she can bail on them.

Yes, some antidepressants are less likely to have weight gain as a side effect. According to an article on WebMD, “Some antidepressants may be less likely to affect weight. Effexor and Serzone generally do not cause weight gain, while Wellbutrin can cause weight loss. Sometimes switching within the same class of drugs can make a huge difference.” However – and this is a big however – you should be consulting your doctor about what might be the best solution for you. No article can take the place of a professional who knows your history and your symptoms from personal experience with you.

Of most importance, though, is addressing your eating disorder as well as the depression. Your over-concern with weight is causing you to lose sight of what is most important for you and your family. I assure you, your children would much rather have an overweight mom than no mom at all.

Hopefully, as you get further from the birth of your child, the depression will settle down a bit so that you can turn more of your attention to the eating disorder. In the meantime, please do continue seeing your therapist. Be as honest with her as you know how. Tell her what you are really thinking about so she knows how serious the situation really is. Accept the support of your therapist and people who care about you – even when you don’t care very much about yourself. Consider joining a support group for people who have bulimia. If you’re too overwhelmed for that, there are support groups on the Internet that may give you a start.

I think writing your letter may have been your attempt to help yourself realize how serious your issues are. I hope you can find the supports you need to build on that healthy impulse.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 4 Aug 2010

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2010). More concerned with weight gain than my kids. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 18, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2010/08/04/more-concerned-with-weight-gain-than-my-kids/