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Avatar universal

Alternative to Lexapro without sexual side effects and weight gain

I am getting confused the more and more I read. I was taking Lexapro for anxiety. It was amazing. I've never felt so good.  Stopped my dwelling on things, getting worked up or frazzled eaily etc.  The sexual side effects were bad though. I also gained 10 lbs on Lexapro although I work out regularly and my eating habits weren't drastically different.  The Dr insists this is not a side effect of Lexapro but when I read online it seems a common side effect.  Why won't Drs admit this?

Anyway, then he put me on Wellbutrin XL instead which doesn't seem to be helping. He just added Effexor XR. I asked if it causes weight gain and he said no,. But since he said the same with lexapro, I am concerned. I can't afford to gain more weight. I'm 5'2" and up to 140 now and nothing fits. Its making me more depressed!  Am I more likely to gain weight with the Effexor again?  I really wish there was something that could work without these side effects. When I was on Lexapro I felt the best I've ever felt in my life but the side effects were hurting my marriage and self esteem.
10 Responses
433412 tn?1232554456
how long have you been taking the effexor xr for cause iwas put on it in january, i took it for 3 weeks felt great took myself off it and now i'm bk on it silly me. when i took it for them 3 weeks i didn't notice a change in my weight, so i think there alright and my husband and family never said anything,the only thing friends said to me was that i'd lost weight but i felt the same. if you don't mind me asking why are you on the meds. for me its panic attacks.
Avatar universal
I just started the Effexor today , along with the Wellbutrin, since I've been taking the Wellbutrin XL alone for a month and it doesn't seem to be working. I am on it for anxiety.  I've always said to my husband I wish I had an on/off switch for my head.  Lexapro fixed that. I just worry and get worked up and frustrated easily and dwell on things too long which gets me upset or frustrated. Just every day things like things I need to do or a conversation with someone where I start worrying I said the wrong thing, things that really aren't worth dwelling on so much. I always thought it was jsut a party of life and never knew there was an alternative but I felt like a new person on the Lexapro and I want to feel that again.

Do you think most people writing in these boards are writing their negative experiences.  I see SO many people say they gained weight but I wonder what percentage of people that is overall. Of course Wellbutrin is known for weight loss and it would have to be the one time I didn't get a side effect that I wanted! LOL!
366811 tn?1217422672
There's nothing like doing thorough research on a medication to mae you more confused then when you started. You'll hear that a lot from the denizens of these hallowed halls. I'm going to toss out some ideas for you, though -use what you can and leave the rest behind.

When I took an SSRI for depression and anxiety, I was TOLD to expect a decrease in libido (mine) but what I experienced was quite the opposite. My spouse was amazed. And my psychiatrist, with raised eyebrow and smile, expressed curiosity and made a note on his desk blotter. This is all to see that "your mileage will vary." So I wonder if, given enough time, you would have adapted. Or, did anything ELSE change that might have been a contributor? Give it some thought.

As to weight, I DID gain some weight. And I could have sworn that my eating habits did not change. On refllection, thigh, here is what I now think I think: The gain occurred over a period of time, slowly. And while I did NOT start eating more snacks or take bigger second helpings, I did chomp down a bit more at gatherings where there were snack trays, and I treated myself more often to things which would contribute to a gain. It was subtle. Reason? Food tasted better - I had more of a zest for pleasure. I also went to bed sooner and slept longer and more soundly -not a lot, but noticeable. So, over time, the slight tilt toward a few more calories consumed and a few less burned up had the inevitable impact. My conclusion is that the drug didn't "make" me gain weight so much as it contributed to an over-all feeling of well-being -and THAT was a push toward consuming a bit more. Look at your own experience -anything similar?

As to the marriage, one can only hope that a spouse will realize that if sexual intimacy must decrease for a time in exchange for an improvement in your outlook and sense of well-being, it is a pretty good exchange. Who in his right mind would impose anxiety and bad mojo on a spouse so that HE could have his sexual needs satisfied? Just a thought.

Finally, you refer to your height and weight, clothing, etc. and how this is "making you" more depressed. I'm going to give you a little whack upside the head, here, so prepare yourself:

Anxiety, panic, depression and the whole ugly cast of characters that go along with them are serious business and many people would give their eye teeth to be rid of them. They can take over and ruin your life. So, you've got to get your priorities straight, here. Issues of your vanity, appearance, etc., are important and certianly self-esteem is a root issue for many with panic and anxiety. The drugs that calm us down and help us function are sort of like that junior size spare tire in your trunk -it will get you where you are going -but what you really want is a good set of wheels all the way around -full functionality. And that often means THERAPY -the work you do to get at deep psychological and emtoional material which is often the well-spring from which the anxiety flows. The idea of switching medications so you lose weight and have good sex is tempting -but the deal here is your mental health -first and foremost.

If you get that straight in your mind, commit yourself to the headwork you'll need to set things straight -and get your spouse and others to sign-on to support you, you will be doing yourself a tremendous favor. However, if you allow yourself to be guided FIRST by the SECONDARY issues, you will experience nothing but frustration -my opinion.

One good source for help and support is right here -this forum. So, please, join us and become a member; believe me when I tell you -promise you- that you are not alone in the agonizing process of dealing with trade-offs to get where you need to be. We will all help you make the "right trades." Not the easy ones. The right ones. Here's what you do: click the Join Link -enter some profile information about yourself -even a picture if you care to- and anything you think would help us get to know you faster and better, and you can change this material whenever you like. You will also be accessible to receive private messages when other members click the name you've given yourself -sort of a "push to talk" feature. After you've done that, spend some time just using various features of the forum. For example, to see all the posts or responses that someone has made, just click their handle, go to their profile, click Posts, and read to your heart's content. You may also enter search terms -including member names- in the search box at the upper right of your screen and the system will retrun everything matching the term(s) you entered. This INCLUDES a drug database that will give you both user posts about drugs as well as the medical information about the drug. A great way to get quick answers about therapeutic effect, side effects, interactions, etc.

One of the profile categories is your mood, which you may change anytime you like.

Along the right side of your screen is a section of Recent Activity, which not only alerts you to new posts, but new ANYTHING, including journal entries and mood. This is a way to telegraph the community at large without actually creating a separate post. Thus, if you see a friend's mood has changed while you are working on a response or post, it can alert you to send them a private message to learn more or simply let them know you're thinking of them. Likewise, if you are going to be "out," you could enter something like "off line for the night" as your mood, and people would know you're away from the forum for awhile.

"My Medhelp" is where you'll find all the features you can deploy: messaging, lists of friends, photos, etc.

At upper-right you'll also see Health Pages -a section of reference material built up by the members themselves. It is a work in progress and all are free to contribute to it.

If you do this kind of exploring and experimenting right away, you'll be up-to-speed quickly. If you see the message you are reading now as part of a direct response I (or anyone) has made to one of your posts, it was probably copied and pasted from this journal. I hate form letters and auto-responses as much as anyone -but I also hate forgetting to tell people what they need to know, so this is my safety-net. Consider it as part of your "Welcome" kit. So -please join and try things out.

You might also want to read my entries for the "Right Click Trick" and "When in Haste, Use Copy 'n Paste" for some other convenient time-savers.

We're glad you are here!

Avatar universal
Hi.  I actually lost weight while I was taking effexor.  So much that after 6 months my Dr. took me off it.  Maybe others know more than me about this, but I have always been told and read that wellbutrin will not do anything for anxiety.  It actually can cause anxiety.  If I were you (and I know we are all different) I would talk to my Dr about stopping the wellbutrin and just try the effexor.  Effexor is also pretty stimulating but does help with anxiety.  Put the two together and your anxiety may go up.  Also, I would only stay on the effexor long enough to get help for your anxiety and then wean off it.  It was VERY VERY hard to come off that med.  I believe effexor and paxil are the two hardest ADs to withdraw from.

BTW, I had no sexual side effects from the effexor.
Avatar universal
it is a commone misbelief that wellbutrin is a good drug for anxiety. it is not at all. it is good for depression. that is why you didn't feel as good on it as you did with lexapro. the effexor you are taking is a newer medication and is good for both depresion and anxiety. you may have to get to a higher dose so it can work the way it is suppossed to but it will work. from my experience it is a more effective medication that lexapro any day! most patients do not gain weight on effexor and i assume if you continue to exercise and eat healthy you will not gain weight either.

JSGeare has mentioned something profound. he gained weight not directly but rather indirectly from the medication as he had more zest for life and food! continue to ask yourself this same question everyday. not pointing at you directly, but most people would rather point to their medication as the cause of their weight gain rather than take a hard look at themselves and their lifestyle habits.

wish you luck, give the effexor its due time course and dosage increase to get the full effect. i hope you will share your positive reactions to effexor unlike most who post their negative responses :)

God bless,
Avatar universal
Thanks for all the feedback! JSGeare, you make an interesting point about weighing how I felt on the Lexapro vs. the side effects. When I said the sexual side effects could hurt my marriage, I didn't mean that my husband was unhappy.  As long as I feel good mentally (and continue to have sex) it was up to me if I wanted to live with the side effect of not having satisfying sex myself. As far as the weight gain, I understand that vanity is not as important as feeling good but when I gain weight I don't physically feel good and I don't feel good about myself. I exercise regularly and have maintained my weight for years so it's frustrating to have put on weight and I don't want it to continue. If I didn't think it was possible that the Lexpro did that, I'd probably be willing to go back on it and deal with the sexual side effect.  I see your point about the medicine not directly being the cause of weight gain. That makes sense and also explains why Drs would still insist it doesn't case weight gain. Whether it be directly or indirectly on that specific medicine, it does seem to be an issue for most people.

There seem to be more mixed responses on Efexor and weight gain, maybe it's not as likely.  Just seeing so many posts about it makes you wonder what percentage of people that is. As far as the Wellbutrin, I was upset when my Dr first put me on it since I don't believe my problem is depression, it's definitely anxiety.  Having read about it I didn't think it was for anxiety which explains why it didn't work. I have read that the Wellbutrin doesn't have side effects or weight gain so it is used with another medicine to offset those things. If I see that the effexor is working I will ask about coming off the Wellbutrin.  I am starting with the smallest dosage of Effexor and increasing each week for 4 weeks.

I really appreciate discussion boards on many subjects. It's nice to have somewhere to go where people understand what you are going through and frustrations and can share their experiences. Thank you!
366811 tn?1217422672
If I may call you that: you have been very kind in your reaction to my challenges and I appreciate it. You just as well could have told me to go bury my head and you would have been richly entitled to that.

In everything you have written, I now discern a kind of crisis of confidence with your doctor so the time may now be here to do a re-assessment of the folks on your team -at least as to a second opinion.

Please know that my remonstration was based entirely on not wishing you to suffer under one regime on account of allegiance to another. You are exquisitely self-aware and well-spoken - sure signs of the curse of intelligence. Unquestionably, you will prevail.  I ask now that you stick around here long enough to help others thgrough the process.

You go, girl.
Avatar universal
Yes, I am not completely trusting my Dr anymore. I actually originally went to him because I was getting sick frequently for a year (the 2nd Dr I had seen for this) and after tons of tests he thought maybe it was anxiety.  The Lexapro worked for anxiety but I still continued to get sick often. I finally went to a 3rd Dr who I love and who on the first visit diagnosed me with asthma (the other Dr never checked my breathing, only did a chest scan when I told him I felt it was in my chest.)  I've been on a daily inhaler and haven't gotten sick since so atleast that problem is solved.  I did ask the new Dr if he could change the Lexpro to something else without the side effects and he told me it wasn't possible, that they'd all have the same side effects. While I really like this new Dr more and plan to stick with him for everything else, I only continued with the original Dr since he was insistent that we could find something without the side effects and I want to believe him.  I feel sort of guilty, but I figured once it played out I'd stop going to him and I know my new Dr would refill whatever we find works. So at this point I hate to go to yet another Dr. It feels like forever that I am going to Drs and now I am seeing an allergist for the asthma too. I'd probably be alot less stressed if it didn't feel like I had a Dr appt every other week! LOL!

Having read alot of other posts here, I realize alot of you experience more severe anxiety (and depression.)  I don't think mine necessarily gets in the way of life in a huge way, I just never knew it was possible to feel so much better until I tried the Lexapro. I always said I wish my head had an off switch and that's what the Lexapro did for me. part of me says I've lived my whole life like that so just give up on the medicine and continue to do so, but I felt so great when the Lexapro was working that now I can't imagine feeling overwhelmed and anxious all the time anymore if I don't have to.
439522 tn?1214951189
I would stay with the Lexapro.  I've been on it for about six months and it works so great for anxiety...I've taken the most of the other SSRI's....and for me they did not work nearly as well.  Lexapro is a more targeted SSRI, and that is why it has less side effects.

I have gained some weight, but I'm really sure it's because I'm eating more because I'm not sad and anxious all the time.  When you are in a constant state of anxiety, you are burning more calories, and you probably were not eating as much or as healthy.

For sexual side effects (I'm a male) I use Cialis when necessary.  Lexapro causes a delayed orgasm...and sometimes it is so delayed that you lose the feeling of stimulation.  The Cialis will help.  You might talk with a Dr. about trying that...I have heard that some females use that or viagra (cialis is WAY better in my opinion).  

Your mental health is the most important thing.  I realize that your sexual health is, too, but I think if you stay on the Lexapro for a while, even the sexual side effects will start to be minimal.  I've been on it for six months now and don't even have to use a Cialis anymore.
Avatar universal
Hi, I'm a single male taking Lexapro for the last couple of months due to severe anxiety. Though the anxiety is gone but I experienced a lot of ups and downs since I started taking this med. Started with 5mg and doc wanted me to increase to 10 than to 20 mg which about that time I couldn't move and do pretty much anything now reduced to 7mg that seem to be the right dosage for me. Doc added  100mg Wellbutrin recently as mood stabilizer. Still the common side effect for me is general sluggishness, sleepiness, no sense of urgency when I really need to have one, some weight gain and absolute no attraction to the opposite sex. Just the think of having sex seem to be bothersome now. Honestly I'm happy not to feel like having a heart attack all the time, but what I really want is to lead a normal life as many of you want.
I do appreciate if you could share your experiences particularly guys that currently take this med or taken in the past and let me know if you have found a good substitute.     .  

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370181 tn?1595629445
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