10 Weird Side Effects of Extreme Weight Loss

10 Weird Side Effects of Extreme Weight Loss

There are countless benefits to dropping pounds if you’re overweight or obese. You’ll have more energy. You’ll look and feel better in clothes. You’ll slash your risk of developing diabetes, depression, sleep apnea, impotence, back pain, cardiovascular disease, and some types of cancer.

But every so often, losing a large amount of weight comes with some strange side effects, too, says Tricia Leahey, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry at Brown University’s Warren Alpert Medical School.

While the pros of slimming down outweigh the cons, the following potential consequences may stall your progress or—even worse—discourage you from reaching your end goal.

Read on to prepare yourself so you can stay on track.

The Blues
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You should feel elated with each lost pound, so why do you feel so unhappy? Dropping weight may actually increase your risk for depression, according to a study from University College London.

Researchers observed nearly 2,000 overweight adults for four years. Subjects who lost at least 5 percent of their body weight were 78 percent more likely to report depression than those who didn’t move the needle on the scale.

“Often we have really high hopes for weight loss,” says Alexis Conason, Psy.D., a clinical psychologist based in New York. “When we lose weight but find ourselves still struggling with the same problems, we may feel frustrated or discouraged.”

Your move: Get plenty of sleep and eat healthy foods when you’re hungry to reduce your risk for depression, Conason says. Being well nourished and rested will help give you the resilience to cope with challenges.

If you become totally preoccupied with weight loss—such as abandoning plans with friends to go to the gym or obsessively counting calories at every meal—see a psychologist for help.

Ditto if you experience signs of depression: Feeling pervasively sad, isolating yourself from others, and losing interest in things you usually enjoy, Conason says.

Loose Skin
Sadly, melting flab doesn’t automatically come with tight, taught abs. If you lose a lot of weight, you may wind up with sagging folds of excess skin.

“Skin stretches over time to accommodate extra body mass,” says Adonis Maiquez, M.D., director of wellness and regenerative medicine at the Miami Institute for Age Management and Intervention.

When the fat is gone, your skin may not have enough elasticity to shrink back down to your current body shape, Dr. Maiquez says.

The amount of loose skin you wind up with depends on how old you are, how quickly you dropped weight, and how often you’ve lost and gained weight in the past, he says.

Your move: In cases of extreme weight loss, plastic surgery may be the only way to get rid of your extra skin, says Holly Wyatt, M.D., professor of medicine at the University of Colorado.

But if you have just a little sagging, build muscle to make your skin look more taut, Dr. Wyatt suggests.

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