I’ve been steadily gaining weight since I was 16; I’m now 25. My metabolism drastically changed just before I turned 17, when I started taking an SSRI for anxiety symptoms. The SSRI helped quell my panic, but it also made me ravenously hungry while slowing my metabolism to a crawl. Despite being my most active for the following four years, dancing and fencing regularly, I still packed on weight. I moved to a walkable city without a car, and walked or used public transport–still gained. All the while, I’ve eaten a diet of mostly vegetables and some whole grains and meats, the sort that gets labelled “healthy” by doctors and nutritionist websites.
It was suggested I get my thyroid checked a couple months back, and when I read up on hypothyroidism it was like a laundry list of my non-specific complaints. They’re all pretty general (fatigue, weight gain, irritability, low-grade depressive symptoms, dry skin, increased tendency toward migraines), so I’d never thought they might be connected. I have bad migraines that I’ve struggled to control and recently gotten a grip on (down from 4-5 a week to 1 every 7-10 days), and my doctor has been pretty genial and not commented on my size at all while we tried to fix that up.
I made an appointment with him, and he agreed that my symptoms might be indicative of a low thyroid function, so labs were drawn. We also did the usual stuff, and my pulse and BP remain in the “Awesome!” range.
My results came back with a TSH of 3.29, and a note saying I’m fine. However, because of my research before making the appointment, I knew that the lab values were incorrect; the American Academy of Clinical Endocrinologists reccomend a 3 as the top cut off for the normal range–and even if he disagreed, if I’m having symptoms, it might be worth trying a medication to see if they improve. I made a follow-up appointment to discuss.
I brought the reccomendation for the lab range with me, and suggested that we should consider what the professional association who deal with this use. My doctor refused to back down, stating that the lab would have changed their values if it was important (!) and that he was not comfortable treating me at this level no matter what other doctors said. He then said those words that strike fear into all chubby people everywhere:
“Just eat less and exercise more.”
I protested that I use a calorie tracker on occasion, and that I know what I’m putting into my body. I work night shift, so finding time to exercise can be very difficult, but it would be exceptionally difficult for me to eat less–I might pass out. He told me a story about a study done in Britain that showed that all women who say they eat only X amount of calories a day are totally lying (yeah, I don’t know what that was about, either), with the implication that therefore I must be lying. He also said that all of his 25-30 year old patients complain about weight gain because “you can’t eat whatever you like any more, your metabolism is changing.” Protests that mine changed nine years ago abruptly with a medication known to cause metabolic changes didn’t seem to sink in.
I left frustrated and annoyed, still heavier than feels comfortable for my body (my most comfortable weight is somewhat lighter but not as thin as I was before all this started as a teenager), and without answers. I plan to move in a couple of months and hope to take up this question with a new doctor. Weight loss is not my goal so much as the other symptoms, though I wouldn’t mind it. Anyone know good endocrinologists or GPs in the Atlanta area?