More than 1 in 10 Americans take antidepressants to treat depression. For the most part, these medications get the job done. Your health care provider may need to tweak your dosage or switch you to a different kind to find the best fit, but most people notice an improvement in 6 weeks or so.
Like every other medication, antidepressants have side effects that affect some, but not all people. One of the most notable is weight gain.
To be fair, weight gain or loss can be a part of any mood disorder, whether you’re taking an antidepressant or not. Some people lose their appetite and lose weight; others crave carbs, eat more, exercise less, and gain weight.
So what can you expect and what are your options? Effects on Weight Can Vary
If depression dimmed your appetite, weight gain may actually be a good thing.
“I’ve had some individuals feel so much better on medication that they are willing to work toward ways to lose weight and eat healthier since they are feeling better,” says Uma Naidoo, MD, a Harvard-trained psychiatrist, professional chef, nutritional biologist, and author of This Is Your Brain on Food. “If they had been losing weight due to a loss of appetite, it may be a relief to be eating better.” If depression revved up your appetite, the extra pounds may put your physical health at risk. But depression is a serious medical condition that needs treatment.
“Ultimately the goal of antidepressant treatment for most is to achieve remission of troubling depressive symptoms and recover to a life that feels more connected and hopeful,” says Kelly N. Gable, PharmD, BCPP, professor and director of Well-being and Resilience at SIUE School of Pharmacy and Psychiatric Pharmacist at Family Care Health Centers in St. Louis, MO. “If antidepressant treatment is part of that journey, we must always ensure that the side effects do not overshadow the benefits along the way.” Does Weight Gain Happen With All Antidepressants?
No. And it doesn’t happen to everyone.
“In general, weight gain is a possible side effect of most antidepressants, such as Zoloft, Prozac or Celexa, but each person will react to antidepressants differently,” Naidoo says.
How much weight gain is typical? A quarter of those who take antidepressants gain 10 pounds or more, Naidoo estimates. Is Weight Gain More Likely With Some Types of Antidepressants Than Others?
Yes. Antidepressants are grouped based on how they interact with certain chemical receptors in your brain. The mo