Drugs that reduce symptoms of depressive disorders are called antidepressants. These drugs act to correct the chemical imbalances of neurotransmitters in the human brain, that cause depression. Thus, they are drugs that treat depression.
Antidepressants and Weight Gain
Up to 25% people on antidepressants tend to pack extra pounds. However, there are a few that cause weight loss, while others do not affect weight. Taking Paxil (class of antidepressants belonging to the SSRI group) carries the highest risk of gaining weight, while taking Zoloft (another SSRI) has the lowest risk of gaining weight. SSRI refers to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors
Antidepressants may cause vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, and a reduced appetite, while some may increase metabolism, leading to weight loss. Antidepressants that may cause weight loss are given below:
There are also antidepressants that do not influence weight. Taking these medications carries less chances of gaining weight. They are:
Why Antidepressants Affect Weight?
Some patients complain of putting on weight even when their diet has not changed. In this case, the weight gain can be attributed to changes in metabolism brought about by the antidepressant use. Antidepressants are seen to increase appetite in some patients. They lead an individual to start deriving more pleasure from food, due to which he tends to overeat without realizing it. When on antidepressant therapy, the depression can cause overeating and lethargy, leading to inactivity, thus causing weight gain.
On the other hand, some experience weight loss as a side effect of antidepressants. It could be because some depression medications suppress appetite temporarily, while others cause diarrhea, thus causing weight loss.
If the weight change is not major and the medication is benefiting a patient, doctors mostly advice weight management through exercise or diet control, and do not prefer discontinuing the medicine.
Here are some of the conditions and disorders for which antidepressants are used.
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorders
- Anxiety Disorder
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PSTD)
- Manic-Depressive Disorders
- Neuropathic Pain (also includes peripheral diabetic neuropathic pain)
Also, there are some other disorders that are treated with these drugs. They are as follows:
- Chronic Urticaria
- Tourette Syndrome
- Binge Eating Disorder
Along with the prescribed medication, following a healthy diet, and exercising regularly can reduce the risk of weight gain associated with antidepressants. If weight gain is unusually high, then you should consult your doctor for a change in the medication.
The fact that antidepressants cause weight loss does not mean one should use them as a means to lose weight. Instead, opt for a healthy diet and a good exercise routine. This will keep you more healthy than taking medications and suffering from the unwanted side effects.
Disclaimer: This PsycholoGenie article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.