Antidepressants are medicines used for depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders.
Weight Loss and Gain Due to Antidepressants
Many antidepressants cause weight loss or gain. Different antidepressants can cause distinct side effects, and weight change is just one of them. Many people face weight gain or loss after using antidepressants. Research tells that bupropion (Wellbutrin), an atypical antidepressant, provides a route to weight loss rather than weight gain. Although specialists are still 100% sure if antidepressants lead to weight loss, they have an indirect effect.
Let us study how particular antidepressants, the best therapy for managing mental health conditions, have gained this stature for causing weight loss.
Antidepressants that are Responsible for Weight Loss
Antidepressants that cause weight loss are duloxetine, bupropion and fluoxetine. Some people do not experience weight loss, while others face considerable weight loss.
Causes of Weight Gain After Using Antidepressants
Research printed in 2016 states that “regardless of the consequent rise of antidepressant use and the obesity rates in Western societies, the association between the two and the mechanisms underlying antidepressant-induced weight gain remain under exploration.”
An article in Medical News Today states that, while experts are not clear on the reasons for the correlation between antidepressants and weight gain, one theory is that “both metabolism and hunger levels may be affected. Antidepressants interfere with serotonin, the neurotransmitter that regulates anxiety and mood while controlling appetite. In particular, these changes may increase cravings for carbohydrate-rich foods, such as bread, pasta, and desserts.”
Another theory, according to the article in Medical News Today, is that some depressed people lose their appetite, so when the antidepressants start to work, they may grow hungry again, eat more, and gain weight. The author notes that “depression can lead to fatigue and inactivity, and a lack of physical activity can cause weight gain.
Can Antidepressants Be Prescribed for Weight Loss?
Antidepressants cannot be prescribed for weight loss as there is no guarantee. There are several reasons, the major one being that the Food and Drug Administration disapproves of it.
It means the FDA did not allow it to use antidepressants as a weight-loss medication. In addition, there is no proof to show that antidepressants are safe and effective for weight loss. Moreover, it is already known that most antidepressants cause weight gain, so they may not fulfil the intention of the weight loss objective.
There are some severe side effects related to the use of antidepressants. The following potential side effects must be remembered antidepressants are not meant for weight loss.
- Fluctuations in blood pressure
Antidepressants That Cause Weight Gain
As there is significantly less evidence that there is still any connection between weight gain and specific antidepressants, are there any drugs more directly related to weight gain than others? The Time Magazine article notes that “the study comes with many caveats” but finds that “antidepressant use may be associated with weight gain over time.”
Young women are very conscious about weight gain while taking an antidepressant. The Medical News Today article shows the list of antidepressants that are likely to consider responsible for weight gain:
- Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs):
- Amitriptyline (Elavil),
- Desipramine (Norpramin),
- Doxepin (Adapin),
- Imipramine (Tofranil-PM),
- Nortriptyline (Pamelor),
- Protriptyline (Vivactil),
- Trimipramine (Surmonti
All the above-mentioned antidepressants are known to be effective, especially for those who do not respond well to other medicines. They have been around for a long time and are not frequently prescribed due to their side effects, such as weight gain. Excessive weight gain is the cause that many patients quit TCA treatment.
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs):
- Citalopram (Celexa),
- Fluoxetine (Prozac),
- Paroxetine (Brisdelle, Paxil, Pexeva),
- Sertraline (Zoloft)
These commonly used antidepressants have been associated with weight loss . . . but may cause weight gain when used for an extended period. According to research, SSRI use was associated with weight gain due to unhealthy behaviours, including a Western diet, sedentarism and smoking.
Atypical Antidepressants: “mirtazapine (Remeron).”
Consider being less likely to cause weight gain than TCAs. Mirtazapine has been considered to both increase appetite and weight gain.
Antidepressants That Do Not Cause Weight Gain
The Medical News Today published a list of antidepressants less likely to lead to weight gain. They include
- Desvenlafaxine (Pristiq)
- Escitalopram (Cipralex, Lexapro)
- Levomilnacipran (Fetzima)
- Nefazodone (Serzone)
- Venlafaxine (Effexor)
- Venlafaxine ER (Effexor XR)
- Vilazodone (Viibryd)
- Vortioxetine (Trintellix)
They also mentioned that the SSRIs citalopram (Celexa), fluoxetine (Prozac), and sertraline (Zoloft) are not responsible to cause weight gain if used for less than six months.
In addition, some depression medicines, the Medical News Today mentioned, have been closely related to weight loss, including
- Bupropion (Aplenzin,
- Forfivo, Wellbutrin),
- Duloxetine (Cymbalta),
- Selegiline (Emsam).
How to Manage Weight While On Antidepressants
While talking about antidepressants that cause weight gain or loss, it is essential to know that the danger of weight gain/loss should not inevitably bother patients from using antidepressants. Still, patients must discuss the probability of weight gain/loss with their doctors whenever they begin a new treatment plan and possibly develop a long-term strategy for keeping a check on it.
Mindful Eating Habit
Implement mindful eating and control your total calorie intake. Watchful eating requires giving close and thoughtful attention to your food and taking sufficient calories to support you throughout the day.
If you’re anxious about how antidepressants might affect your appetite, consult a nutritionist who can guide you about what changes you need to make in your diet.
Workouts like going for a walk or a jog, doing aerobics and even taking a bike ride around the neighbourhood can help a lot for physical and mental health. Regular exercise for at least 150 minutes each week will help burn calories.
It is important to note while studying antidepressants that cause weight loss or gain that not all antidepressants may cause such problems if taken as per proper instructions. A watchful diet, exercise, and an appropriate medication schedule are also essential and may lessen the side effects of any treatment. However, it is also suggested not to quit the medications suddenly. It can lead to weight imbalance.
Hence we can say that antidepressants are not suggested purely for weight loss or gain except in the case of severe obesity. Do not consider them as magic diet pills for shedding extra pounds. Not to depend on them as potential dietary supplements as they are powerful neurological agents. Instead, follow a healthy diet plan and workout routine for lasting weight loss. It is easy to lose or manage weight with a regular workout plan, healthy eating habits, and good self-care.