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Author Topic: Can anxiety cause UNINTENTIONAL weight loss?  (Read 547 times)

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Offline undertakerfreak1127

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Can anxiety cause UNINTENTIONAL weight loss?
« on: December 19, 2013, 07:53:28 AM »
Since my first panic attack two months ago, I've been noticing I've dropped some weight and I look a lot more bony in places, especially my hips and forearms. Two family members have even commented on it. A trip to the ER two days ago yielded (as far as the tests they COULD do) no tumors or other metabolic issues. Chest x-ray was fine.

I've been panicking over having cancer more recently, more specifically lymphoma. Unintentional weight loss is a symptom of cancer, so you can well imagine the source of my further anxiety. I do know I've been eating a bit less due to an occasional loss of appetite, but it's nothing radically different from the diet I maintained before my anxiety started.

So, have any of you experienced unintentional weight loss despite being healthy? It's constantly on my mind...
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Offline Leo99

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Re: Can anxiety cause UNINTENTIONAL weight loss?
« Reply #1 on: December 19, 2013, 08:08:40 AM »
Yes, I always lost quite some weight during my anxiety/depression periods. Mainly because I didn't stick to my regular diet, I imagine. There's no way I could eat like 5 regular meals when severly anxious.
I tend to get my blood checked at those points. The last time my thyroid hormones were a bit off but after the anxiety period, they went back to normal.

Be well!
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Offline undertakerfreak1127

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Re: Can anxiety cause UNINTENTIONAL weight loss?
« Reply #2 on: December 19, 2013, 02:35:43 PM »
I had a blood test for my thyroid and apparently it was fine. I just can't seem to stop losing weight.
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Offline Natsab87

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Re: Can anxiety cause UNINTENTIONAL weight loss?
« Reply #3 on: December 19, 2013, 03:46:16 PM »
I didn't eat properly for about 5 days and now I am including lots of crap and chocolate and I've still lost weight. I was 8st2, I'm now 7st8 and not too happy about it!!
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Offline Ihadcancer

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Re: Can anxiety cause UNINTENTIONAL weight loss?
« Reply #4 on: December 19, 2013, 04:40:36 PM »
Yep! Stress burns up a lot of calories and I have trouble eating full sized meals when I'm anxious.  Side effects of anti anxiety meds include 'weight loss or weight gain'. 
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Offline undertakerfreak1127

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Re: Can anxiety cause UNINTENTIONAL weight loss?
« Reply #5 on: December 20, 2013, 05:15:19 AM »
The other thing that freaks me out is I've heard weight GAIN is also a symptom... It just confuses me! Which one is right?
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Offline Leo99

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Re: Can anxiety cause UNINTENTIONAL weight loss?
« Reply #6 on: December 20, 2013, 06:28:29 AM »
It depends, it's different for different people. Like all people don't get the same effect from the med, they also don't get same side-effects.
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Online AncientMelody

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Re: Can anxiety cause UNINTENTIONAL weight loss?
« Reply #7 on: December 20, 2013, 07:43:23 AM »
Some people's metabolism kicks in high gear from the fight or flight response, so they  may lose weight. Or they are just too nervous to have much of an appetite. Other people turn to food for comfort when they are depressed or anxious and thus may gain weight. That's why it varies.
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Offline Overthinking extrovert

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Re: Can anxiety cause UNINTENTIONAL weight loss?
« Reply #8 on: December 20, 2013, 08:26:00 AM »
It just confuses me! Which one is right?

There's no single right answer. It depends on what your mind is expecting. For example, a few years back I had a strained calf due to a flat foot and thought it was ALS (because my dad had it). I couldn't sleep at night with my heart racing in a resting state up to 160 BPM. Fear would overcome me and I couldn't think about the future. Like I was trapped in a room. But it passed with time when I simply gave up worrying and I eventually found out that it was a flat foot. A few months ago I had some heart palpitations after an intense excercise with low energy because I had last eaten hours ago. I thought my heart is failing (even though there wasn't ever a sign that I had heart disease) so my symptoms were high blood pressure, high heart rate, dizzyness and a "feeling of dissapearing". Because that's how my mind imagined dying was like.

Because, you see, when you have ALS, you live for another few years. When your heart is failing, you die within minutes. The symptoms of my panic attack corresponded with the expectations imposed by my mind. But don't be fooled, it wasn't my conscious mind. So your weight loss (or gain) is most likely a result of anxiety. Perhaps you subconsciously worry about something and forget to eat, perhaps your bowel evacuates shortly after a meal so you don't get the nutrients from the food, or whatever. This worry isn't always obvious to you and therefore you shouldn't worry yourself with thoughts like "what if". I went to an orthopedist about that flat foot and told her that I had thought it was ALS. She chuckled and said that "it's ok to blow on your skin even though you don't have a burn" but why immediately jump to the worst conclusion when there is a bunch of things between the starting point and the worst thing. (this blowing on your skin is a free translation of a saying in my country, didn't know what could be an english equivalent ;D)

You should think more positively. Get yourself a mantra and repeat it in your head. I like the quote from the movie Dune - "Fear is the mind killer. I shall not be afraid." You'll convince your brain to change its mind. Because that's how the brain works, it's called neuroplasticity. In general - when you think about something, neurons create certain connections. When you think about it A LOT, these connections become stronger. When you don't think about something at all, the connections get weaker and eventually dissapear. That's how you forget stuff. This is science, not some spirtual hokey-pokey.
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Offline Andrea24

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Re: Can anxiety cause UNINTENTIONAL weight loss?
« Reply #9 on: December 20, 2013, 08:27:09 AM »
I have experienced both weight loss and weight gain, just depends on how my anxiety/depression is manifesting at the time.  Sometimes, I'll have a four week period where I binge eat and have two cocktails most days of the week. Other times, I'll go weeks where a bowl of soup and piece of bread is enough for the whole day.  With the latter, I definitely lose weight.  But with the former, I don't gain any weight--when I definitely should be.  I think my metabolism picks up because of the anxiety, something another person mentioned here.  Since I have started Prozac, my appetite has decreased.  It doesn't take much to make me full--and not even super full, just a comfortable full.  When my anxiety and depression started this year, I could have stood to lose about 30 lbs so I have not been bothered by my weight loss. However, it is important that I get the nutrients I need so I have started taking more vitamins. 
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Offline Overthinking extrovert

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Re: Can anxiety cause UNINTENTIONAL weight loss?
« Reply #10 on: December 20, 2013, 08:49:22 AM »
Prozac

Let me just C/P something from wikipedia real quick.
Quote
Very common (>10% incidence) adverse effects include:
Headache#
Nausea#
Insomnia# (sleeplessness)
appetite loss. This may be a desirable effect in obese patients but in children, the underweight, the pregnant and in those affected by the eating disorder, anorexia nervosa, this may be an undesirable effect.
Anxiety#
Asthenia# (weakness)
Diarrhea#
Nervousness#
Somnolence# (drowsiness)

You can read about other adverse effects here => http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fluoxetine#Adverse_effects

When I had palpitations, doctor prescribed some tranqulizers for me (diazepam). I have used it a few times when I couldn't sleep from worrying but now it lays on the shelf in my bathroom because I use other methods of calming down instead of drugs. I don't know, exercise (calisthenics), yoga, meditation, doing something I like... Next time you should try doing stuff you like instead of taking happy pills. Don't eliminate the drugs, just try to get by without them. Practice makes perfect! Remember neuroplasticity. Because these psychiatrists just love to prescribe drugs. Tell me what's bothering you? Mhm, mhm, mhm, okay, here's some pills. Psychiatry is no exact science, remember that.
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Offline Air Nomad

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Re: Can anxiety cause UNINTENTIONAL weight loss?
« Reply #11 on: December 20, 2013, 10:35:50 AM »
I do believe stress and anxiety can cause unintended weight loss, a lot of times because we simply aren't paying attention or looking for it and then one day we notice it.  You're probably eating less than normal and on top of anxiety, which probably makes your body work harder and burn more calories, you're losing weight.  I know I was worried about that recently and thought I was losing weight for no reason.  But then I thought really hard about what my diet had been and things I've been doing and realized it's probably because I've been eating really healthy and not gorging myself as much plus have been more active and always out and about with my 1 year old son.  One day I looked in the mirror and was like, "Oh my gosh I look skinny!"  And instead of the response you'd expect of "Yay! I'm finally losing the last of my baby weight!", it was "There must be something wrong with me!"  LOL!!  But then Thanksgiving hit and the next week my clothes fit a little tighter and I was like, "Oh..."  When you're not looking for this, sometimes you notice it all of a sudden, plus anxiety causes you to eat less.  I'm sure you're fine, especially since all your tests have checked out.
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Offline undertakerfreak1127

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Re: Can anxiety cause UNINTENTIONAL weight loss?
« Reply #12 on: December 21, 2013, 02:54:32 AM »
That makes sense. I have also been defecating more than usual, usually right after I eat. That could have something to do with it as well... urgh. This is just tearing me up
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