As many as 25 percent of people taking antidepressants report weight gain. The weight gain can lead to even greater depression. Some see an increase of only a few pounds, while others pack on 100 pounds or more. While most brands of antidepressants list weight gain as a side effect, not all depressants will make you put on weight because everyone’s bodies react differently to medicines.
Of the most popular antidepressants, Effexor and Serzone are the least likely to cause weight gain. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) can cause weight gain, particularly Paxil. In this same family, including Lexapro, Prozac and Celexa, the drug Zoloft is the least likely medicine to cause weight gain.
Why Do Antidepressants Cause Weight Gain?
The reason behind the weight gain may be attributed to a variety of factors. No one can pinpoint the exact cause. When an individual is depressed, he or she may be less physically active and eat more as a way to feel better. Chronic stress could also be a reason why individuals gain weight, since stress can lead to depression and obesity.
Add to these difficulties that some antidepressants cause food cravings, especially for carbohydrates, which can lead to a significant increase in weight. There may also be an interaction with other drugs that adversely affects a once-fast metabolism.
It’s important to take action quickly before the weight gain becomes overwhelming. If you notice a gain of a few pounds that last more than a week, assume it might be a side effect of the drug and talk about it with your doctor.
How to Lose the Weight
A regimen of diet and exercise alone is an excellent prescription for depression. It’s a wonder doctors don’t prescribe exercise before trying antidepressants. At the very least, they should prescribe it along with antidepressants, especially with those known to contribute to weight gain.
It’s likely that behavioral and group therapist school training will change and begin recommending that therapists tell patients to add diet and exercise to their depression treatment regimens. Many patients could get the same benefit for depression without having to secure a prescription from a doctor for medication. Except in extreme circumstances, it makes little sense to prescribe medication unless diet and exercise have already been tried.
While stopping or switching medicines might be one answer, if the medication is helping the depression, it’s best to try diet and exercise first. The key is to count calories both consumed and spent, then be sure to run a calorie deficit of between 500 at 1,000 calories per day. One pound of fat it equivalent to about 3,500 calories, so a program like this will create slow, steady and healthy weight loss. If you continue to struggle with your weight, don’t give up hope. Talk with your doctor about other strategies that might help you maintain a healthy weight despite antidepressant side effects.
TherapistSchools.com provides tips, advice and school information for students seeking training as behavioral and group therapists.
- Finding the Right Exercise to Lose Weight (freeacaiberry.org)
- Tofu Tips for Weight Loss (dietcleanse.org)