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Nurse Who Took Ozempic for COVID Weight Gain Reveals What Happened After Stopping the Medication

Working as a nurse in the intensive care unit during the COVID-19 pandemic was traumatic for Meredith Schorr.

The combination of stress, taking PTSD medications, and a poor diet from long hours at Banner University Medical Center resulted in the 25-year-old gaining 50 lbs. within a year and a half.

"I was pretty uncomfortable with the new weight that I had gained because it wasn't where I normally sat. I didn't feel healthy, I was restricted in doing exercise," Schorr — from Phoenix, Arizona — tells PEOPLE, adding that prior to the pandemic she was relatively fit and healthy.

She said her life changed after a friend recommended she try type 2 diabetes drug Ozempic in February 2022 to help with weight loss.

Ozempic is an FDA-approved prescription medication — taken by injection in the thigh, stomach or arm — typically used to help lower blood sugar in people with Type 2 diabetes. It's the brand name for semaglutide, which stimulates insulin production and also targets areas of the brain that regulate appetite, according to the FDA.

Schorr quickly reached out to a family nurse practitioner, who works with patients for weight loss, about the medication.

"She basically made it clear to me that I can use this drug as a tool to help me lose weight, and garner the motivation to improve my lifestyle habits," she explains. "She made sure that I knew that the drug wasn't just a crutch to rely on, I had to make lifestyle changes as well."

RELATED: Texas Mom Shares Experience Using Ozempic for 1 Year: 'It's More Complicated Than People Realize'

Nurse Who Took Ozempic After COVID Weight Gain Talks Health Adjustment After Stopping Medication
Nurse Who Took Ozempic After COVID Weight Gain Talks Health Adjustment After Stopping Medication

Meredith Schorr Meredith Schorr and her husband

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Schorr, who first shared her story on Reddit, was then given a prescription for Ozempic, receiving it through a compounding pharmacy for about $150 per month without insurance coverage.

Within 24 hours of taking her first injection, she started experiencing side effects like stomach sensitivity with gas pains, cramping, constipation, and intense nausea.

"I seemed to have more severe side effects than most, but I later learned how to combat that with all sorts of non-pharmacological interventions, and also had to be prescribed Zofran," she continues. "And then all of a sudden I started losing weight pretty drastically."

Schorr dropped 50 lbs. in 11 months on Ozempic — and she was able to fit into her wedding dress again. However, she made the decision to stop taking the injections in January 2023 because she eventually wanted to start a family, which she couldn't do while taking it.

"I'm young and I'd rather not be on this medication for a long time. Plus, it's expensive," she adds.

RELATED VIDEO: What Is Ozempic Face? Doctors Explain the Side Effect of the Diabetes Drug

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After going off the medication, Schorr says she still felt the effects of the drug for a few weeks before her body's readjustment got the best of her.

"Around that five to six week mark, I began to feel super hungry, and almost ravenous for a little bit," Schorr explains. Within two months of stopping Ozempic, she regained 10 lbs of the 50 she had lost.

RELATED: Jillian Michaels Convinced 8 Friends to Stop Taking 'Dangerous' Ozempic Because of Rebound Effect

Nurse Who Took Ozempic After COVID Weight Gain Talks Health Adjustment After Stopping Medication
Nurse Who Took Ozempic After COVID Weight Gain Talks Health Adjustment After Stopping Medication

Meredith Schorr Meredith Schorr before and after taking Ozempic for 11 months

PEOPLE spoke to Ania Jastreboff M.D., PhD., and obesity medicine physician scientist at Yale, about Ozempic, Wegovy and what happens when patients stop taking the medications. "Not everybody needs the highest dose, but if you want to maintain the weight reduction that you achieved, you have to continue taking the medication. The reason for that is because obesity is a chronic disease," she says, adding that the drugs have not been tested for people who do not have Type 2 diabetes or chronic obesity.

"If you have a patient who has high blood pressure, they have hypertension, and you start them on an antihypertensive medication, and their blood pressure improves, what would happen if you stopped that medication? Well, their blood pressure would go back up — and we're not surprised. It's the same with anti-obesity medications," she says.

"I was super hungry all of a sudden," Schorr says. "So after that phase, I was able to kind of see, 'Oh, I gained 10 lbs. I don't want to lose any progress that I had made.' That's the time where I tried to focus on healthier eating, choosing better snacks than what I may have in the past, making those conscientious choices to have a healthier lifestyle and diet, and that seems to have helped."

Nurse Who Took Ozempic After COVID Weight Gain Talks Health Adjustment After Stopping Medication
Nurse Who Took Ozempic After COVID Weight Gain Talks Health Adjustment After Stopping Medication

Meredith Schorr Meredith Schorr before and after taking Ozempic for 11 months

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Schorr says the weight gain allowed her to focus on readjusting so that she could maintain the results of the medication.

"I worried about the side effects and readjustment just as much as I would worry with any other medication," she continues. "There's risks and benefits to every medication, so I just knew that a healthier lifestyle and habits was going to greatly benefit me."

Now, Schorr tells PEOPLE that her appetite has returned to normal but she's focused on maintaining the lifestyle changes necessary to continue losing weight on her own, which she urges others to do.

"I feel like [Ozempic] has been so vilified lately but it was a really great tool for me and really changed my life," she says. "Physically, I've been doing really well. I've been exercising so much more than I used to, eating right. I feel a lot more comfortable in my own skin. I feel really grateful."