The “Double Whammy”: Women's Experiences of Weight Gain After Diagnosis and Treatment for Schizophrenia Spectrum Disorders

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Abstract

High levels of lifestyle risk factors compound medication side effects, resulting in high rates of obesity among people with schizophrenia spectrum disorders (SSDs). Obesity and related comorbidities increase the levels of disability and disadvantage in this population. Little research has explored the lived experiences in relation to this issue, and less has considered the experiences of women. Our aim in this study was to understand the experiences of women who gained weight after their diagnosis and treatment for SSDs. We carried out up to three in-depth qualitative interviews with 11 women over 2 years. Data were analyzed using constructivist grounded theory procedures. The women described a “double whammy”–like experience whereby weight gain and obesity came with their diagnosis and treatment of an SSD and brought with it additional challenges. The double whammy parallels the co-occurrence of mental illness and substance misuse. Implications of these parallels for service provision are discussed.

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