I Got Fat On Tegretol


Among the other amazing side effects I am experiencing on Tegretol (carbamazepine), such as personal earthquakes, difficulty with words, and an extra helping of fatigue, I have also put on weight.

10kg of weight to be precise, in less than 5 weeks.

I’d put on weight last year, and at the start of this year when there were three birthday cakes in a week and then two the next week at work (I can’t say no to free cake, it’s a great weakness of mine).  At the start of university I was up at about 72kg.  5 weeks after starting Tegretol, I was up at 83kg.

I have ever been the human who has been able to eat whatever she wanted and maintained a figure that had occasional family friends ask if I was anorexic.  My response was always ‘you haven’t seen me at dinner, clearly’.  This neat trick began to fade away during my late twenties, along with my ability to pack away food, and I maintained a happy 58-60kg by simply eating normally.

I went on a work experience placement to a sheep farm for three weeks.  While I was there I worked from 8am to 4pm in a physically demanding job, acting as a sheep dog, walking a three hour hike through bush on a proper off-the-beaten-track style track, hauling sheep fleece around while they were shorn, and generally having the time of my life.  In those short three weeks I toned up like nothing on earth.  I slendered down, I had guns to die for, and I was eating double what I’d normally eat to maintain the appropriate energy levels.

I don’t actually need to do a lot of exercise for my metabolism to go OH OKAY and pick up speed.

Until Tegretol.

I’m stable at 83kg.  I haven’t gotten heavier.  But despite the exercise I’m now putting in, I also haven’t gotten lighter.  I haven’t changed my caloric intake in any way, I haven’t changed my eating pattern, I haven’t changed anything except added more exercise, and I am 83kg.

The weight is predominantly on my stomach.  Every bit of my front abdomen, from below my breasts down to my undies line, is extended in a bulge.  This is not a normal weight distribution, and this is not a weight distribution I am happy with.

I’ve done a bit of looking around – there was one study on people who were taking Tegretol and gained weight (I think it was averaging around 15kg) and they only lost the weight when they stopped taking Tegretol – something that is certainly not an option for me right now.  There have been one or two people on forums who have claimed to have lost weight while on Tegretol by going extremist vegan for a couple of years – also not an option for me at this point in time.  There have been suggestions of doing the ketogenic diet – another non option at this point in time, and should be done with extreme caution by someone who is on Tegretol, as carbamazepine is metabolised by the liver, and the ketogenic diet puts extreme pressure on the liver – and doing a paleo diet.

For now I will maintain my breakfasts and dinners as is and change my lunches while incorporating more exercise into my routine.  Once my waterproof sneakers arrive I’ll be able to properly jog around at the paddocks as well (yay aerobic exercise).  My goal is to be 80kg by the time I am next on surgery!

Tegretol – Day 4


Whoa, I have been through such a variety of side effects with Tegretol, almost a new one each day!

The first day was fine, just a bit of dizziness and loss of balance, nothing unusual.

Day two was worse, I was high and euphoric and so intensely itchy.  I was very careful not to itch anything and to only rub the areas that were itchy, but it drove me mildly insane.  The only benefit was, well … I was high.  So it bothered me, but not that much.

The itchiness began on my neck and shoulders and spread down my arms.  I couldn’t wear anything on my arms, because it went beyond itching into pain.  My legs itched, my back itched, my waist itched, even my breasts, and under them, itched!

When I lay down to nap that night, I noticed sharp stabbing pains up my arms and legs.  It wasn’t overly bad, more like the sensation of a decent sized needle, only in a larger area.  I still fell asleep.  Boy does the Tegretol help with sleep!

Day three I was high as a fucking kite, I was euphoric and joyous and I could have sat and watched the tree outside move in the wind all day.  I was dizzy, had difficulty focusing my eyes, and my balance was gone.  It was only through intense strength of will that I could walk straight.

Day four I’m still pretty high and euphoric and my balance is still out of it.  My tinnitus is louder.  My hearing is hypersensitive and I’m more reactive to sounds.  My skin is hypersensitive to texture, and even my usually comfortable clothing is a bit too much.  It would be a problem if I weren’t so chill and happy about everything.

Now one very important thing of note, if anyone is reading this blog specifically for the side effects I have been experiencing, Tegretol can induce some very serious and potentially fatal skin reactions.  If you, or someone you know who is taking Tegretol, are experiencing any itching, rashes, blisters (this includes in your mouth, on your tongue, or on your lips), or skin discolouration, THIS IS A MEDICAL EMERGENCY, PLEASE SEEK MEDICAL TREATMENT IMMEDIATELY.  These are symptoms that your skin is possibly going to begin to necrose.

I and my amazing human are monitoring me very closely for any rashes or skin discolouration in light of my itching.  Hopefully my skin decides to stay alive and in one piece!