Weight Gain on Antidepressants

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Considering antidepressents but scared about weight gain

March 2006

I am considering antidepressents for anxiety and depression but I am scared of the side effects esspecially the weight gain. I would like to stay at my current weight because my selfesteem would be gone if I turn into an overweight person. I heard it slows your metabolism and makes you more hungry. I can controll my appetite but I can't controll my metabolism. I am confused about the stuff I read on the Internet. Most of it sounds so negativ. I would like to know from peoples experience with antidepressents. Did you gain lots of weight even with excercise and eating normal ? Would you recommend taking it ? Is Wellbutrin a better choice because I heard it doesn't make you fat ? I am confused !

I recently went on Lexapro, which is an anitdepressant which also treats anxiety. It has been 4 months now and I have LOST weight since going on this medication. I take better care of myself in general, exercising (joined a gym), eating well, making sure I get enough sleep, because I am not anxious and depressed anymore! I don't want to sound like a commercial for the drug companies, but I have to say, I should have done it years ago. I am myself again. When you are depressed, you are in pain and you see life through a veil of pain. I was surprised when I started on Lexapro to find that it didn't affect my ''mind'' so much as it my body. I felt a wonderful sense of well-being, which didn't feel like being drugged at all. My understanding of the science is that Lexapro is an re-uptake inhibitor which means that it keeps the seritonin in my cells longer (instead of getting reabsorbed by my body) so it can work to calm uplift longer. Not all the therapy in the world (well if I had all the time and money to engage thus maybe) could have given me the boost I needed to thrive. I believe now my depression was organic, in other words it was in my body. I am now as brave and energetic a person as I need. Before, I had to work so hard to struggle through the days. And my relationships all suffered accordingly. I still sometimes have thought processes like a depressed and anxious person, but they don't stick, because of the overall sense of well being. Good luck in your decision. If you feel better, you can and will be able to take better care of yourself. anon
I am currently taking an antidepressant for postpartum depression. Obviously, as I am postpartum, I have baby weight to lose, and weight gain was also a concern for me. My personal experience has been a major increase in appetite (which I think is not really an ''increase,'' it's actually an appropriate appetite as during my depression I had a severe lack of appetite). It has made me need to be careful in my food choices, but I continue to lose baby weight at about the same rate I did before the medication. Even if I did gain weight, my outlook, mood and parenting are so much better now, I'd continue taking the antidepressant. I hope that doesn't happen, but it has made an enormous difference for me. P The bottom line is, if you need medication, you need it regardless of a potential side effect. You need to choose the one that works for you, not the one that might not effect your weight. It is more important to be ''happy and chubby'' than thin and depressed.

Good luck. (Not) Fat and Happy

I have taken two different types of antidepressants - old school tricyclics and s new modern brandname ''Celexa''. I did not experience weight gain with either of these medications. Celexa was so much better than the old antidepressant and I had many less side effects in general. If your doctor has suggested that you use a medication to treat depression, I would recommend it. You will feel worlds better about your situation and be able to cope with life more realistically. Anonymous
I have tried different antidepressants over the years, and it's really important to remember that everyone responds differently to them-but the truth is I have gained weight on them, I think they do affect both my appetite and metabolism. Many people I know have gained weight on them. I am currently trying to lower the dose because I really cannot get any fatter-I can't stand it! I am trying to find other ways to deal with the depression, such as exercise, getting enough time to myself, do things that nourish me. I couldn't tolerate Wellbutrin, but it doesn't have the weight gain side effect, so I definitely think it's worth trying. The other thing is if your depression is related to PMS, they have found that the SSRI's can be used for that part of your cycle only-they have some kind of hormonal effect, so you're much less likely to gain weight that way. You should definitely talk to a psychiatrist, not just a primary care doctor. Good luck! anon
I have tried several antidepressants (Prozac, Effexor, Zoloft) before finding one that worked for me (Wellbutrin). I didn't experience weight gain on any of them. I think the side effects vary by individual, so if you feel you need them I certainly wouldn't avoid them because of fear of weight gain -- there might not be any, and you can always lose a few pounds later if you have to. Wellbutrin has a bit of an appetite suppressant effect for me, but my weight hasn't changed. And I think that it tends to rev you up a little more than some of the others, so it might not be a first choice if anxiety is part of your concern. Good luck. No weight change

Paxil and Weight Gain

April 2004

My doctor has just put me on Paxil for drepression I have been experiencing for about a year now. Of course, my mental health is more important than my weight, but I'm wondering if anyone who is on Paxil has had any weight gain? Also, if you are on Paxil, are you happy with it? Thank you! JS

I was on Paxil for about 2 years. I did not gain any weight, but I felt like I was on a *happy* drug the entire time. I wasn't exactly h appy all the time, but I was never sad. Actually, I didn't really have any emotions either way. I was always even. I was calm and I felt like nothing in the world could hurt me. It also made me much slower and not able to think as clearly. I wasn't able to organize and grasp thoughts like before. Like the thoughts were there, but I couldn't get to them. After going off of it, I had LOTS of family and friends tell me that I became a different person while I was on it and thought I was a much better *me* off of it. The positive thing that I think it did for me was to let me know how it felt to not be nervous and depressed all of the time; so that when I got off of it, I knew what *normal* people felt like and how to get back to that.

Of course, drugs do different things to different people, so I would take all of this with a grain of salt. I am just letting you know my experience. Good luck!

My doctor says the average weight gain with the use of Paxil is twenty pounds in the first year!! She only prescribes Paxil to those with eating disorders, because of the weight gain issue. It has proven metabolic effects that cause people to gain weight.

I don't want to scare you, but I hated Paxil. After about 6 months, I did not care about anything anymore. Sure, I was not depressed, and I could sleep again, but I didn't feel like working, studying, or anything. I was just blah. And I gained twenty pounds, which I am still struggling to lose a year later because of metabolic slowdown. My psychiatrist tells me this is a very common syndrome of side effects from Paxil, so if you notice that you just don't care much about anything anymore, but are still reasonably happy, you might be having the same response.

If you are seeing a doctor, and not a psychiatrist, I would advise you to consult with an actual psychiatrist--they are more in the know about Paxil. I am now on Lexapro, which can be taken at a low dose. It has NO weight gain effects. no more Paxil

I take Paxil and love it! But I also am gaining weight on it because it makes me hungry ALL the time. To me it is worth it and it is all I can take because I am nursing. But you should talk to your psychiatrist. Perhaps 2.5 milligrams less would help the weight gain. Or cocktailing it with another drug. Lovin' life on Paxil
Oh yes, we who are on this drug can verify the weight gain. Is it b/c of the drug, or b/c I'm not so anxious and can eat every day? Who knows? But I'll certainly take the weight to avoid the anxiety! Plumper on Paxil
I have been taking Paxil for about 2 1/2 years now and have gained some weight, but I can't honestly say it's due to the Paxil as I don't exercise very much. More important to me is the positive effect of the medicine. I have so much less anxiety and depression that it is very worth a possible weight- gain side effect. I hope you have as positive results as I have had. I can honestly say it has changed my life. carla

Taking Zoloft for post-partum depression; weight gain out of control

Sept. 2003

I started taking Zoloft a few months ago for post partum depression and although it has helped my mood tremendously, my weight gain has gone beyond my control-- that is, despite regular exercise (4 days a week of intense cardio) and conscientious eating (not to mention, the 500+ calories burned from breastfeeding), I have gained 20 pounds more than I weighed right after giving birth. I have a history of depression and have tried other medications, but to my knowledge, Zoloft is the only one that is considered safe for breastfeeding mothers. I am afraid of quitting zoloft because of how debilitating my depression might be if it resurfaces; and I don't want to quit breastfeeding because it has become one of my baby's greatest pleasures in life (and, therefore, mine too) and I have heard that weaning often sets off a whole other can of emotional and hormonal worms. But, I am also terribly frustrated with my inability to lose the weight I am gaining on this medication. I am so conflicted as to what to do. I would appreciate any feed- back that might help shed some insight or perspective on my predicament. Has anyone out there had any similar experiences or fears? New Mom

Don't know much about Zoloft, but I know from research and personal experience that Paxil is as safe as any other SSRI in terms of passthrough in breastmilk. As with other SSRI's, weight gain is a possible side effect, but it may be worth consulting your MD to see if it's worth trying to see if this side effect is lesser for you than with Zoloft. For what it's worth, I have been on Paxil continuously since before I became pregnant, have a very healthy 5-year-old who nursed till 2.5years, and I have been able to keep my weight below pre- pregnancy level, with the help of Weight Watchers. anonymous
First off, I feel for you. I myself was on Zoloft about five years ago after having been in therapy for a year or two and feeling like my psychological problems were getting harder to manage as we uncovered more. My therapist finally ''broke down'' and had his own M.D. prescribe me Zoloft. It helped me considerably too, and while i was not a nursing mother at the time that I took it, I was terribly afraid of going off. My therapist worked with me closely for the year that I was on it and regularly checked in to see if I felt ready to come off. My point to you is not so much related to the weight gain, but more that if you stick with therapy in addition to the zoloft you may be able to come off of it sooner and feel supported and nurtured - not abandoned and left to no support without it. I did not experience a weight gain, but I did experience fear and when I did finally stop, I was ready and fully supported by a good therapist. So, hang in there - the weight must be a hard byproduct to handle, but i would really encourage you to find a good counselor who can help you make the transition in six months to a year, when you feel ready. anon
Poor Mama. I've been there. You are wise to take your medicine: fat and happy is sooo much better than skinny and depressed. Pudgy people can parent. Depressed people can't even enjoy Law and Order reruns. Thoughts: 1) It might not be the medicine. I took Serzone throughout my pregnancy (perfect baby) but blew up like a balloon afterwards both nursing and exercising. Weight Watchers plan for nursing moms helped some but mainly it was time. Most of the weight came off in a year, but the rest didn't go until nursing did at age 3 1/2. Yowza. Hormones and genetics are mighty. Don't beat yourself up. 2)If it is the medicine, you could add another that is more likely to cause weight loss (although zoloft usually DOES cause weight loss). There's no evidence that these drugs harm nursing kids. You might also still be depressed and not taking enough Zoloft. 3)I bet your baby thinks your body is absolutely beautiful and perfect. Try to see yourself as s/he does. Jenny
I was diagnosed with postpartum depression, too, and am breastfeeding, too, but am not on Zoloft -- I'm on Prozac. Are you sure that Zoloft is the only safe one? My psychiatrist seems to think that Prozac is fine, too. And my son seems fine. I've lost weight since giving birth, although that may just be my luck. I weigh less now than I have in years. One alternative would be to try a homeopathic remedy for your postpartum depression. I've heard it can work, with no side effects. You have to get the right one for your constitution, though, so you have to see a homeopathist (homeopath?), which isn't cheap. The remedy is cheap, though. Hope you find something that works for you. Another new mom
I had a very similar experience on Zoloft. I finally went off for other reasons, and back on the Celexa I used throughout my pregnancy. My doctor and I did the research, and decided that the Celexa was safe. And I'm losing weight. Which is making me much happier, I've got to tell you! Shallow shallow person that I am. anon
I also took Zoloft while breastfeeding, but I lost weight easily. (Shocking, since weight has always been a struggle for me and I refuse to exercise and give up ice cream!) Everyone reacts differently to medication and has different struggles with post-partum weight loss, of course, but you might want to look for something else contributing to the weight gain. Don't give up breastfeeding OR Zoloft before you explore all the options! (And don't let anyone tell you it's dangerous! Zoloft has been tested. Personally, I took Prozac all during pregnancy, and Zoloft during 20 months of breastfeeding. My now 3 year old is thriving - healthy and strong, and possibly gifted.) anon
Hi, I'm sorry that you were depressed, but glad that your medication is working for you.

I gained about 15+ extra pounds, not from antidepressents, but from 3 rounds of fertility treatment, that finally resulted in my son. I'm not as good as you about the exercise, but I do complain about the extra lbs, and wish they weren't there.

I just tell myself that they're in exchange for my baby. I think I would try to tell myself the same thing if they were caused my another med, e.g., the Zoloft--it's all for the best.

I don't mean to minimize your frustration, please, I know what it feels like to walk around in a body that feels and looks quite different from the ones we had pre-baby days, but it might be better to accept your ''new'' body, at least for now. I think people assume I'm still carrying around my pregnancy weight (i'm not), and, as breastfeeding moms, we tend to be a bit heavier, right?

No, I wouldn't give up the breastfeeding--it's too precious, it sounds like. And, I, too, have heard that Zoloft is one of the safeset, and at least most well studied, however, there are others, but maybe not worth changing if this is working so well for you.

SOrry, not much help, I know, Hope you get some good answers here. Newly overweight mom

I just want to say that whatever you decide, please don't go off the Zoloft cold turkey. Perhaps you could slowly lower the dosage and see if that helps? (tell your doctor if you do). I think staying stable and happy is the most important thing in being a good mom. If your weight is really out of control, you might need to try other meds, and that might mean weaning your baby--I know that's not what you want to do, but people have to stop bfeeding for various reasons.

I have taken Zoloft for almost a decade now (significant weight gain over that time), and when I decided to try to get pregnant, I did a lot of research and consulted doctors and finally decided it was a better choice for ME to stay on it through pregnancy (baby is healthy as a horse). I am breastfeeding, and continuing on Zoloft for the time being because I understand it's the safest for breastfeeding. I've decided to stay with these meds till baby is weaned, but after that I want to discuss trying something else for depression. I'm not willing to experiment with it right now.

This probably isn't the most helpful answer, but I just wanted to share my belief that it's important to maintain your mental at this wonderful but difficult, hormonally precarious time! Best wishes to you. Anonymous

I too take psych meds that have caused me to gain weight (well, I helped the process along) and was very discouraged about it. Finally I went to Weight Watchers, which had worked for me in the past, and I had a private conversation with the leader about my problem and discouragement. She said that there was another group member in the same boat who was doing well and asked me if I'd like to speak to her. So, next meeting this woman approached me and told me that despite taking heavy duty cancer drugs which had caused her to gain a lot of weight, she was slowly losing it. I was heartened and continued, and in fact lost weight much faster than I expected. Even if you eat conscietiously, my experience is that following an established program like Weight Watchers is much more effective. But my basic attitude is that my mental health comes first, that life is not worth living if I'm seriously off-kilter. Real depression is way beyond the depression of weighing more than you'd like. Good luck- there's hope! anon
I have heard of breastfeeding moms who take antidepressants other than Zoloft. If you can find a copy of the book ''Medication and Mother's Milk'' by a dr who's last name is Hale you should be able to find information on the safety of other medications. His book lists hundreds of medications and their saftey to breastfeeding babies by looking at how the medication is broken down by the mother's body to calculate how much of the medication, if any, is transmitted through breastmilk to the baby. A friend of mine had a copy and used to say that 99% of meds were safe for use by breastfeeding moms because for most the amount was negligible. I know you can buy the book online, but check a library or lactation consultant first. Your dr. might have a copy, but most drs rely on the manufacturer's labels which always say not for use by pregnant or nursing moms since they haven't tested the medications on women in these conditions to prove that they are safe. ex-pumping mom