Prescribed medications often have a side effect that can treat another health issue.Antidepressants can often either cause weight gain or weight loss. SomeAnti-depressant medication is specifically used to help to help people lose weight.
Can Antidepressants Cause Weight Loss?
Antidepressants are medications doctors prescribe to patients who are suffering from depression. Doctors may also use them to treat certain other conditions such as obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and generalized anxiety disorder.
As with all medications, antidepressants can cause side effects. One of the most common side effects is weight gain. To a lesser degree they can also cause weight loss.
Not everyone who takes antidepressants gains weight. People often respond differently to medications. It’s also arguable that some of the people who gain weight while taking their medication may do so because it makes them feel happier and more inclined to eat.
Amazingly, two antidepressants don’t have this association. People using Prozac (fluoxetine) or Wellbutrin (bupropion) are more likely to experience weight loss.
How Antidepressants Cause Weight Loss
The way antidepressants cause weight loss is unclear but experts believe it may be due to the way the medications affect neurotransmitter activity in the brain.
Regardless of the method of action, there is no guarantee that Prozac or Wellbutrin will cause weight loss. The response to these drugs varies on an individual level.
How Prozac (Fluoxetine) Affects Body Weight
Prozac is a selective serotonin inhibitor (SSRI).
SSRIs are the most commonly prescribed antidepressant in the USA. Several different types of SSRI are available in the USA via prescription including Zoloft (sertraline), Celexa (citalopram), and Lexapro (escitalopram). Prozac is the only one that causes weight loss.
SSRIs boost serotonin levels in the brain. In addition to being a neurotransmitter, serotonin is also a “feel good” hormone so it’s not surprising that SSRIs can be so good for improving a person’s state of mind.
All SSRIs work in this way so the fact that Prozac can support weight loss, while other SSRIs do not, is surprising.
However, Prozac only tends to cause weight loss during the first few months of use. After that, like the majority of Antidepressants, it’s more likely to cause weight gain.
How Wellbutrin (Bupropion) Affects Bodyweight
Wellbutrin is a norepinephrine–dopamine reuptake inhibitor (NDRI). Instead of affecting just one neurotransmitter as Prozac does, it affects two.
Neurotransmitters carry messages throughout the central nervous system. Instead of just using them once, the body appears to recycle spent neurotransmitters put them to work again (reuptake).
Experts believe this may lead to neurotransmitter imbalances that can cause depression.
Wellbutrin inhibits the body’s ability to reuptake dopamine and norepinephrine.
Like serotonin, dopamine is a feel-good hormone that influences mood. Norepinephrine is a stress hormone.
Collectively, these neurotransmitters can influence mood, energy levels, and appetite.
The main way Wellbutrin supports weight loss is by controlling appetite. By doing this, the medication makes it easier for people taking it to eat less food without feeling hunger.
The medication’s ability to boost energy levels is also useful. It helps prevent diet-related fatigue.
Antidepressants and Weight Loss: How the Connection was Made
Weight loss and weight gain are antidepressant side effects. As with the many other side effects antidepressants can cause, the way they affect body weight became apparent when people using them and/or prescribing doctors noticed the weight changes.
Due to the present worldwide problem with obesity, it always generates a lot of interest when something is discovered that may help people to lose weight.
For this reason, some researchers have conducted studies specifically designed to evaluate the way Prozac and Wellbutrin help people to lose weight.
Prozac (Fluoxetine): What the Research Shows
Researchers in Iran conducted a study, exploring the potential of fluoxetine (Prozac) as a potential weight management drug.
The study ran for eight weeks. During that time, the researchers monitored the way 201 obese people responded to fluoxetine (400 mg per day).
Nine people had to pull out because the drug was causing weight gain or giving them headaches. The remaining individuals responded favorably to the treatment.
The mean weight loss after four weeks was 3.24kg. Data from the eighth week shows a mean weight loss of 6.67kg.
The researchers continued monitoring the participants for a further four weeks, after the 8-week treatment period. They found no evidence of weight gain.
The data lead the researchers to conclude: “Fluoxetine is an effective, well-tolerated and relatively safe drug for short-term treatment of obesity.” (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3454175/)
Wellbutrin (Bupropion): What the Research Shows
The researchers in charge of one study recruited 327 overweight individuals and monitored their response to bupropion.
However, many participants pulled out. Two hundred and twenty-seven people completed 24 weeks. Just 192 continued through with the extension period that monitored their weight for a further 24 weeks after the treatment.
The study evaluated the weight loss potential of bupropion at two different doses.
The researchers split the participants into three groups. One group got 300 mg of the drug each day, another got 400 mg. The researchers gave the members of the third group a placebo.
The researchers counseled all three groups on energy-restricted diets, meal replacements, and exercise.
After 24 weeks, the placebo group achieved a five percent reduction in body weight. The group that got bupropion (300 mg) did better, achieving a 7.2 percent reduction in body weight.
However, the group that got 400 mg of bupropion per day did better still, achieving a 10.1 percent reduction in body weight. That’s twice as much as the placebo group.
Data from the 24-week study extension shows the 192 people who continued through, successfully maintained their weight losses. (https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1038/oby.2002.86)
Why People Want to Use Antidepressants for Weight Loss
Although there are better options available, some people take a special interest in the way antidepressants influence weight.
People who have to take medicine to manage their depression are a good example. Several medications can tackle depression but some of them cause weight gain, while others may cause weight loss.
If you had the choice between a pill that alleviates depression and may make you gain weight and one that alleviates depression and may cause weight loss, which one would you choose?
Some people have friends or family members who have lost weight due to their antidepressants. If they have a weight problem too, this favorable side effect is bound to spark their interest but, other than going through illegal channels, the medication is unlikely to be available to them.
Of course, a lot of people become interested in the connection between antidepressants and weight loss due to things they have read online.
Why Antidepressants are a Poor Choice for People Who Want to Lose Weight
When Prozac and Wellbutrin cause weight loss, it’s a side effect. These medications are antidepressants, not diet pills.
Some diet pills can influence mood but few people would consider using a diet pill to treat depression because it’s not what they are designed to do. It’s a case of using the correct tool for the job.
The big problem with antidepressants is they all have side effects other than weight loss or weight gain. Some of the side effects can be very unpleasant. That’s why some participants drop out in the middle of clinical trials.
Unfortunately, when you are struggling with depression, antidepressant side effects may be the lesser of two evils. The overall impact the medication has on your life is likely to be beneficial and, if the side effects are very bad, your doctor may be able to switch you to an alternative option.
People who want to lose weight, don’t have to rely on antidepressants to help them do it. Diet pills are specifically designed to serve that purpose and the best ones don’t cause side effects.
If you need to use an antidepressant and have a weight problem, it makes sense to ask your doctor for an option that helps you to lose weight. If you don’t have a problem with depression, you’d be better off seeking a good diet pill instead.
Losing Weight onAntidepressants – The Bottom Line
An Antidepressant can present a number of side effects. One of the most common side effects is weight gain.
However, Wellbutrin is the exception to the rule because it’s more likely to cause weight loss. Prozac can also have this effect but this benefit is restricted to the early weeks of use.
For anyone who is overweight, weight loss is likely to be an enticing side effect but is unlikely to be the only one. If you are trying to lose weight, there are better tools for the job.
Unless you suffer from depression, it makes good sense to use a diet pill to help you to lose weight. That’s what such pills are made for. Weight loss is not a side effect. It’s the primary aim.
PhenQ is easily the best option available at the moment. It’s already helped more than 190,000 people to lose weight, is cheaper than antidepressants, and has a 60-day money-back guarantee.
PhenQ was designed to provide people with a safe over the counter alternative to Phentermine – a prescription appetite suppressant with nasty side effects.
However, unlike the drug it replaces, PhenQ does a lot more than control hunger. Its formulation of natural ingredients also boosts energy levels, enhances mood, and increases metabolism to help you to burn extra fat.
Many people are reporting weight losses of 9lbs or more per month with PhenQ. It works well for weight loss because that’s what it’s designed to do.