Antidepressants and weight loss

Almost all antidepressants can promote a change of the person’s weight. Increase or decrease in weight occurs because antidepressants increase or reduce the appetite.

  • If antidepressants cause a significant increase or a significant decrease in weight, the doctor can recommend to stop using these drugs.
  • If antidepressants cause an insignificant reduction or increase of body weight, the cessation of depression drug therapy is usually not required.

In this review, you will find brief information about medications to treat depression that can promote weight gain or weight loss. All antidepressants listed in this review are approved by the FDA and sold in the USA.

It should be noted that weight gain or weight loss is a dose-dependent side effect of antidepressants. Therefore, when using low doses of antidepressants the risk of weight loss or weight gain is lower than when using the maximum doses of drugs for depression treatment.

Antidepressants and weight loss

Different types of antidepressants can promote weight loss, including:

  • Tricyclics (TCAs)
  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)
  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
  • Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)
  • Norepinephrine-dopamine reuptake inhibitors (NDRIs)

First-generation antidepressants and weight loss

Antidepressants available at the market for many decades most often promote weight loss. Such antidepressants are included in pharmacological groups of TCAs and MAOIs.

Almost all first-generation antidepressants developed in 50, 60, and 70s of the last century are used to treat severe depression, but can cause serious side effects, including excessive weight loss.

Tricyclic antidepressants and weight loss

Weight loss and anorexia are some of the most common side effects of tricyclic antidepressants – Doxepin, Trimipramine, Imipramine, Protriptyline. These drugs cause a significant weight reduction in many patients suffering from depression. Although in a few cases, body weight may increase after using these drugs.

Each of the tricyclic antidepressants stimulating weight loss can be sold at the US pharmacies under various brand names, such as Silenor (Doxepin), Tofranil (Imipramine), Vivactil (Protriptyline), Surmontil (Trimipramine).

Besides tricyclics, a significant weight reduction can be caused by MAO inhibitor – Tranylcypromine. The US consumers know this weight-reducing antidepressant under the brand name Parnate.

Tranylcypromine may cause very rapid weight loss. Therefore, it is practically not prescribed to thin people, but people with normal weight should take it with caution.

If the weight began to decline rapidly after you start using Tranylcypromine, you should discuss with your doctor the possibility of replacing this drug by other antidepressants not affecting the appetite and body weight.

Besides first-generation antidepressants, rapid and significant weight loss can be caused by:

  • SNRI – Venlafaxine (Effexor)
  • NDRI – Bupropion (Wellbutrin)
  • SSRIs – Fluoxetine (Prozac), Sertraline (Zoloft), Paroxetine (Paxil)

Each of these antidepressants can affect body weight. However, the results of clinical trials demonstrate that weight does not reduce after using Effexor, Wellbutrin, Zoloft, Paxil and Prozac antidepressants in most patients with depression.

It should be noted that antidepressants causing weight loss should not be taken in the combination with OTC weight loss supplements and RX weight loss medications.

When using antidepressants and weight loss pills, severe anorexia and other eating disorders that seriously will deteriorate person’s physical and mental condition, may develop.

Before using antidepressants and weight loss drugs, make sure that benefits of combined treatment of obesity and depression exceed potential risks.

Only after the doctor makes sure that antidepressants do not interact with weight loss products and do not accelerate their therapeutic effect, he will be able to prescribe the treatment of two diseases at once.

It should be noted that weight reduction is contraindicated in skinny patients taking antidepressants. Thus, physicians should prescribe for skinny patients not weight-reducing antidepressants, but drugs to treat depression that can promote weight gain.

  • Antidepressants – Clomipramine, Phenelzine, Mirtazapine and Symbyax can stimulate weight gain.
  • One of the common side effects of Citalopram, Escitalopram and Duloxetine antidepressants is weight gain. However, these drugs can cause weight reduction in some patients.
  • Antidepressants – Amoxapine, Nortriptyline, Amitriptyline, Maprotiline, Desipramine, and Quetiapine can cause weight gain or weight loss.
  • Some of the few antidepressants almost not affecting body weight are Isocarboxazid и Trazodone.

If weight loss is not required during using antidepressants, drugs that do not change weight or promote its insignificant increase should be chosen.

To treat depression in people with excessive weight and obesity, the doctor can recommend using antidepressants that have a pronounced anorectic effect and can promote a significant weight loss.

It should be noted that weight could be significantly reduced even when using minimal doses of antidepressants. Therefore, skinny people and patients with underweight should take antidepressants with caution.