Antidepressants That Cause Weight Loss Antidepressants That Cause Weight Loss

Antidepressants That Cause Weight Loss


Depression, anxiety, and other associated mental health disorders are commonly treated with antidepressants, which are drug-approved medications. Antidepressants can effectively treat these conditions but can also cause various side effects, including weight loss.

In this article, I aim to clarify what antidepressants are, how they affect weight, and which antidepressants cause weight gain and loss. The final question I'll address is whether antidepressants have been prescribed specifically for weight loss and whether antidepressants can safely prevent weight loss.

What Are Antidepressants?

Two hundred sixty-four million people worldwide suffer from depression, and an estimated 40 million Americans suffer from anxiety disorders. The symptoms of anxiety and depression can be controlled with antidepressants, cognitive behavioural therapy, or a combination of these treatments.


Many mental health conditions can be treated with antidepressants, including:

  • Major depressive disorder (MDD)

  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

  • Panic disorder

  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)

  • Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

  • Social anxiety disorder (SAD)


Serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine are neurotransmitters that antidepressants affect in the brain.


Antidepressants affect these neurotransmitters in five different ways:

  • Depression and anxiety are often treated with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). SSRI medications generally have fewer side effects and are less likely to produce problems at higher therapeutic dosages than other antidepressants. SSRIs increase serotonin activity in the brain, as suggested by their name. Zoloft, fluoxetine, paroxetine, fluvoxamine, citalopram, escitalopram, and vilazodone are examples of SSRI medications.

  • Neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs): SNRIs block the reabsorption of neurotransmitters in the brain. Duloxetine (Cymbalta), venlafaxine (Effexor XR), desvenlafaxine (Pristiq), as well as levomilnacipran (Fetzima), are examples of SNRI medications.

  • Tricyclic antidepressants have more side effects than SSRIs or SNRIs. Thus, doctors typically prescribe tricyclic antidepressants only when SSRIs or SNRIs fail to improve symptoms or for particular symptoms for which they are known to be more effective. Tricyclic antidepressants consist of imipramine (Tofranil), nortriptyline (Pamelor), amitriptyline, doxepin, and desipramine (Norpramin).

  • Inhibitors of monoamine oxidase (MAOIs): Like tricyclic antidepressants, MAOIs are usually prescribed only when other failed treatments. MAOIs can cause serious side effects and must be accompanied by a strict diet because certain foods, such as cheeses, pickles, and wines, can interact with MAOIs. SSRIs and MAOIs cannot be taken together. Among MAOIs are tranylcypromine (Parnate), phenelzine (Nardil), and isocarboxazid (Marplan).

  • Atypical antidepressants are medications that don't fit into the other four classes. Trazodone, mirtazapine (Remeron), vortioxetine (Trintellix), as well as bupropion (Wellbutrin SR, Wellbutrin XL), are examples of atypical antidepressants.


Antidepressants may take two to eight weeks to start working once prescribed. A few mild side effects can occur during the first two weeks of starting the medication, but most will resolve.

Can Antidepressants Cause Weight Loss?

While most antidepressants are associated with weight gain, three have been linked to weight loss:


  • Bupropion (Wellbutrin)

  • Fluoxetine (Prozac)

  • Duloxetine (Cymbalta)


The effects of fluoxetine (Prozac) on weight are mixed, with some people experiencing weight loss and others not. Although it may cause weight loss in the short term, it can cause weight gain after six months or more.

The research on the effects of duloxetine (Cymbalta) on weight loss is also unclear. Some people can lose weight by taking duloxetine because it decreases appetite. There has been no convincing and consistent connection between duloxetine (Cymbalta) and weight loss in research.

Bupropion (Wellbutrin) is the most frequently associated with weight loss among these three medications. A meta-analysis of 27 studies published in 2019 found that bupropion (Wellbutrin) was the only regularly used antidepressant associated with weight loss.

Except for bupropion (Wellbutrin), all antidepressants increased body weight by 5% on average.

Norepinephrine and dopamine in the brain are altered by bupropion (Wellbutrin), an atypical antidepressant. The only antidepressant consistently linked with weight loss, it also has lower rates of sexual side consequences and sexual dysfunction than SSRIs and SNRIs.


Which Antidepressants Cause Weight Gain?

Antidepressants can result in weight gain as a side effect, but some antidepressants seem more likely to cause weight gain than others, such as:


  • Amitriptyline (Elavil)

  • Imipramine (Tofranil)

  • Nortriptyline (Aventyl)

  • Paroxetine (Paxil, Parva)

  • Mirtazapine (Remeron)

  • The influence of SSRIs on weight is mixed.


Other studies have shown that SSRIs may cause long-term weight gain despite causing weight loss during short-term treatment. We must continue studying these drugs to learn more about their effects.

Why Do Antidepressants Affect Weight?


Different theories explain why antidepressants affect weight. Metabolism may be indirectly affected by the medication's effect on neurotransmitters in the brain. According to others, weight gain or weight loss is an indirect side effect of medications' efficacy or inefficacy. To deal with anxiety and depression, some people turn to food and overeating.

Weight loss can occur when people start antidepressant medication because they no longer feel the need to eat emotionally. It is also possible to have the opposite reaction. Depression may cause patients to lose their appetite, causing modest weight gain if they receive effective treatment for their symptoms.

Have Antidepressants Ever Been Recommended For Weight Loss?

Antidepressants do not guarantee weight loss or weight gain. As with many medications, side effects can vary from patient to patient. Drug Approval has not approved antidepressant medications for weight loss.


In addition, antidepressants can cause rare but serious side effects, including:

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Dizziness

  • Agitation

  • Confusion

  • Fever

  • Fainting

  • Hallucinations

  • Changes in blood pressure

  • Rapid heartbeat

  • Tremors

  • Seizures


Antidepressants are not prescribed for weight loss due to these potential side effects.

Consider K Health's online weight management program alternative if you're looking for antidepressants that result in weight loss. Our medications are designed specifically for this purpose.

How To Avoid Weight Loss Due To Antidepressants

Both depression and anxiety can be effectively treated with antidepressants when taken as directed. Ask your doctor about the advantages and side effects of an antidepressant if you lose a lot of weight after taking it.

If the benefits don't outweigh the side effects, consider whether adjusting the dose or switching medications might help. It would help if you discussed the pros and cons with your medical professional before making such a choice.

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