Depression/Mental Health Forum
This expert forum is not accepting new questions. Please post your question in one of our medical support communities.
Avatar universal

Real talk about antidepressant weight gain

Has anyone ever been in my boat?  I have been on some antidepressant/SSRI or another relatively solidly for the past six years.  I have been on Zoloft, Paxil, Celexa and am currently on Effexor/Lithium w/Trazadone for sleep.  ALL of these drugs made me gain SIGNIFICANT amounts of weight.  Prozac and Serzone were weight neutral, but lost effectiveness or didn't work at all.  I started antidepressants, at 27, 5'7" and 125 lbs.  I am now 33 and weigh 178.
When I have gone off my meds in the past (I used to have a fantasy that I wouldn't need them forever.)or have been transitioning to a new one, I have lost SIGNIFICANT amounts of weight.  When I went off Paxil in 2003, I lost 30 pounds in 3 months (and no-- my eating/exercise didn't change).  I absolutely know that if I went off my meds right now, I'd lose a lot of weight in a short time.  I also know that a deeply debilitating depression would most likely follow at some time and that I'm probably "A Lifer" as far as depression treatment goes.
Yes.  I have had my TSH checked for thyroid problems.  My doctor will not prescribe Topamax because of the side effects.

I want to scream when I see websites that say just lower your calorie intake and exercise.  Yes I do that, but these medications absolutely do something to my body that no amount of diet and exercise seems to offset.  Yes!  That works for people not on antidepressants and even some who are, but not for everyone.  What about us?!!  As slender as I was, I could handle even a thirty pound weight gain, but at an extra 53 pounds, I feel huge, unattractive and though its really hard to exercise carrying all this extra weight around, I do.  I feel like I'm never going to date again.  I hate it!  Clothes never look right on me.  Adult onset diabetes also runs in my family, not to mention all the other health problems being overweight can bring.  For a long time I thought better to be bigger and emotionally healthy than skinny and sick.  But it's just gone so far and I just feel hopeless.  I think that if something doesn't change it's going to get harder and harder to exercise at all as I get heavier and heavier.

Is there anyone out there who was in a situation like mine, but then found the right medication, supplement, therapy, mindset or medication that actually allowed them to lose weight.  Is there some kind of special SSRI blend or new medication that I haven't tried that will stop me from putting on more and more pounds?  Please help!  I don't know what to do.  I need real help.  Something that works.
44 Responses
242532 tn?1269553979
Ask your doctor about wellbutrin, it works and there is no weight gain.
Avatar universal

I had EXACTLY the same thing happen on Paxil...started at 31 5'7" and weighed 138...ended up at 34 and weighed 178!!!

Got off that and went ot WB which I lost the weight almost immediately...and like you, didnt do a darn thing different...I know weigh 145 and still need to lose those last 5 to 7 lbs!!

Good luck...can you try the WB...and about those sites telling you to reduce calories and stuff...you can exercise and starve yourself...the weight aint coming off till you get off the meds...at least thats what it was for me...

My goodness...I would walk and jog and lift weights and eat nothing but salads and Slim Fast and GAINED WEIGHT!!!

Good luck to you!
Avatar universal
Yes, yes, yes. I weighed 119 the day I started taking tofranil (one of the worst for weight gain). I've taken it for many years and am now close to 200 and look like hell. My doctor gave me a scrip for welbutrin which is supposed to not make weight gain, but I have panic disorder and, from all I read, wb doesn't work for that and I've been afraid to taper off the tofranil (I am down from 150 to 100 m a day) and start with the wb. I lost 40 pounds a few years back by starving myself, but it's all back and more. Any answers?
Avatar universal
Thanks for your comments.  They have been really helpful.  I tried wellbutrin once and it made me feel a bit jittery.  But it might be worth trying again.
Avatar universal
For enaj:

I know how scary it is to change meds.  Do you have any vacation time or something that you can take so you can really focus on getting your meds right and not have to worry about having to show up for work and having something strange happen.

I know how risky changing meds can be.  I am super sensitive to meds.  The last major depressive episode I had came on a very short time after trying to adjust meds.  I think part of the problem is that I tried to cut down on one too fast. (with my doctor's advice)  My advice would be to take the change slowly.  Share your concerns about anxiety with your doctor.

One of the reasons why I'm choosing now to try to make this change is because I am in education and will be off from early June until mid-August with a few times I can come in throughout the summer.  I know that as I switch, I could get sick.  Maybe if I do get sick, I'll think differently, but right now it seems worth the risk to me.  Right now I'm dealing with 53 extra pounds.  Who knows if it's even going to stop here?  In my mind even if I have a miserable couple of months, but come out from that with a medication that I can be stable at for many, many years and also be able to maintain a healthy weight, it is worth it!  I believe it is worth it and believe me I have been at the lowest lows with depression, even suicidal.  I pray that we can be BOTH mentally and physically healthy.  Other people with mental illness have been able to.  Why not us?

Avatar universal
Hi Andie,

That is great! I didnt mind Paxil except for the weight gain...and I could NOT lost it no matter what I did...

I think about this when I am exercising...because I hate exercising...this will allow me to live longer to be with my kids and family...so suck it up and keep going...and I repeat that over and over to myself...and after about 15 mins I actually feel better!!!

Have a great day!
Avatar universal
Hi Jogirl,

I really appreciate your comments!  As scared as I am about switching meds, I really want to try Welbutrin, although I know that though it worked for you, I still may gain weight.

While my appearance does effect me.  I don't enjoy looking like this.  I want to try to at least improve my chances of losing weight now before I get to the point of the person who had heart problems.  I want to deal with it now before it gets to that point.  And while I am motivated by appearance, I am even more motivated by health.  I am 20 pounds heavier than the healthy range for my height.  The even scarier thing is, I don't know if it will stop here.  I may continue to get larger and less healthy if I don't find a solution to this problem.
Avatar universal
Does welbutrin work for anxiety or just for depression?
Avatar universal
i had slight anxiety..and that went away with the wellbutrin..everyone is different though..so all meds dont work the same for everyone
Avatar universal
I went from 5'8" and 135 to 175 soon after starting Paxil and I have been on Paxil for almost ten years - I'm 39 now. After carrying around that extra 40 lbs for about 9 years, I had a cardiovascular health scare that made me want to lose the extra weight for my health rather than to just look better. I'm now down to 150 and and still working on it - but really I could be fine with 150 indefinitly. Personally, I needed something more motivating than just appearance to lose the weight. My method is very simple, in theory anyway. I have a tiny notebook that I take with me everywhere and I write down the calories (to the nearest 50) of everything I eat. Like clockwork, if I stay under 1800 per day my weight goes down. If I eat between 2000 and 2500 I stay constant and above that I go up. The best thing I found though is that I can have non-stop eating days (PMS) where I eat 3500 or 4000 calories and I will be up a few pound the next day but those pounds drop right back off if I go back to 1800 (also on the next day). THis has been a huge help for me because before I used to think that if I overate, then I might as well give up - but now I eat way to much about once a week, but still have lost weight.  I think the overeating days keep your body from going into starvation mode (in which it is very difficult to lose weight).  I used to think my weight was just something I had to accept while on Paxil, but I'm still on Paxil and loving my healthier body.
Avatar universal
i can feel your pain, believe me...my weight shot up almost 30lbs in like 2 months..and i had no idea what was wrong with me..they tried all kinds of blood tests and determined that my thyroid was off..i couldnt stay on those meds because i couldnt sleep.. i started having all kinds of emotional problems, flipping out at people for no reason, crying, paranoid..all that good stuff that comes along with depression...i just didnt want to admit it was depression..so finally when i swallowed my pride and went to the dr she put me on wellbutrin...that was january i was at 195..and am down to 170 right now...granted i have changed my eating habits somewhat and i have started walking and working out at least 3xs a week. Have you ever tried wellbutrin?? I have done a total 180..i feel much better..and my confidence is back again..i would suggest trying the wellbutrin!

Avatar universal
Thanks Silver for another encouraging story.  After much discouragement, it's good to know that someone who had the same problems as me found what works for them.

Because I think I'm a depression treatment "lifer" if there's something out there that can diminish my weight gain problem, I think I need to try it after school gets out in a few weeks as long as my psychiatrist agrees.  And if Wellbutrin isn't it for me, maybe something else will be.  I'd love to hear other post-SSRI weight loss AND mental health stories
Avatar universal

I was scared too! And I even went and found a site that has nothing but the bad side effects and then went and found another site that was all good stuff!

So...I have to say WB has worked for me...and I am terrible at reading labels and side effects info...I worry I will get all of them!!

I am only 150 daily...if I got to 300 my ears ring...

Good luck and let me know how it works out!

Avatar universal
My story could have been similar to yours as far as the weight issue. I have just posted my first comment on this site. I found the site about 4 months ago, but never logged in to comment.
     Please check out a website that explains how our medication works in our bodies, Why they cause weight gain, and a couple of very simple nutritional supplements are suggested to begin using that will overcome the problem of weight gain. These supplements are Omega threes and another that is made from saflower. Please take a look and see what you think.
     There may be help for you there. We are all different with different issues. So what works for me may be all wrong for you. However; I am a firm believer in gathering and sharing honest information. I believe that informed decissions usually turn out well. Here is the site:

Just in case that my address doesn't work ( I am a lousy typest), you can access it with a search on  the tittle of the book that is published there. "The Road Back."
Avatar universal
If you are experiencing weight gain and are unhappy about the change in your body, don't understand exactly why you gained it and want to reverse the damage check out this book. "The Road Back"
     "The Road Back" is published online, in part, and explains what is happening and how to reverse the weight gain without changing or interferring with your current treatment by using nutritional supplements that help your body replenish the hormone leptin.
     Leptin assists your body balance and control your weight and appetite. Antidepressants and some other meds disrupt the production of this vital hormone. Check it out. It is really very simple once they explain it.
     Check it out, it's free and you have nothing to loose but the weight and all of the emotional and physical problems that go along with being uncomfortable  and overweight.
Avatar universal
Thanks for your help.  I'm going to look into a few things from the road back website.
Avatar universal
I've been doing a lot of research about different meds and their side effects.  If there's anything I can do to avoid taking another drug that makes me gain weight, I want to do it.

I think I've figured out why Wellbutrin has the lowest instance of weight gain.  There's a medical condition caused by low levels of dopamine.  Wellbutrin is the only antidepressant I know of that works on dopamine.  From what I've read though I'm no doctor, dopamine plays a big role both in our weight and our sex drive, our drives in general basically.

I am currently on Effexor/Lithium.  The Lithium is supposed to augment the Effexor.  L. is for bipolar.  Though I could become bipolar because my dad is, I've never had a manic episode.  One thing I've read lithium does is diminish the brain's dopamine production in order to avoid mania...

There is also a medical condition caused by low levels of dopamine.  Here are some of the symptoms, fatigue, fatigue after exercise, rigid muscles, chest tightening, low blood pressure, light headedness, fainting, weight gain, inability to concentrate,

I could be wrong about these connections, but I don't think I am.

God, I hope wellbutrin works on my depression.  It seems like the best med in every other way.  I hope my doctor will be willing to wean me towards it a week and a half from now when school gets out.

Avatar universal
I just found out that I have "prediabetes."
Avatar universal
I am now taking half my regular dose of imiprimine and so far not experiencing the "zaps" that usually come when I miss a dose or try and go off too fast. I've taken half the theraputic dose of welbutrin for two days and will continue this for another week or so before going farther down on the impiprimine and up on the welbutrin. I hope it works. I may end up the thinnest patient in the institution!
Avatar universal
I'd really like to hear how that goes.  I see my psychiatrist next week to taok about meds.
Avatar universal
Hey what about takin g the combination of Effexor and Cymbalta---plus I am taking Phentermine to hyelp me lose weight but it seems I am at a stand still----could it be from these anti-depressant pills
Avatar universal
Hanging in there. The "self-talk" is tough..."Oh, no, I think I feel dizzy! Maybe it's the meds! Is it the meds? Do I really feel dizzy or do I just think I feel dizzy!" You know how it goes. My daughter and grandsons were over last night, so it was a good way to keep my mind off things. We are going to Chicago for a long weekend on Friday. WIll be interesting to see how that works out. I wish I could just go to a country retreat for a month or so and get things all regulated and steady, but instead, I have to live my regular life while dealing with my inner life as well.
Avatar universal
Glad to hear you are hanging in there.  Has anything changed with your weight yet.  I know dealing with dizziness and everything else probably seems more important, but I'm just curious.
Avatar universal
I am getting married in two months and have been trying to lose 15 pounds that I put on over the past year due to taking Lexapro. I have been working out and watching what I eat for six months, but the weight won't go anywhere.

In addition to the weight gain (I am short and this gain has meant I've gone up 2 pants sizes), I have lost all interest in sex and can't have orgasms anymore. While Lexapro has done amazing things for my mental health (along with intense therapy), the weight gain and sex issue are pretty depressing.

My doctor prescribed Wellbutrin, which made me so anxious I was breaking out in hives, and the weight didn't budge. I want to go off Lexapro, but when I tried I had terrible dizziness and nausea. Also, I am nervous about going off the pills so close to such a big day - but at the same time, it is a beach wedding and the rehearsal dinner is poolside.

I don't want to feel miserable and my mother is already making comments about how my sister has shrunk down to a size zero for the wedding - smaller than she was at her own ceremony, I might add!

I am going to talk to my psychiatrist tomorrow and will let you know if she has any good suggestions.
Didn't find the answer you were looking for?
Ask a question
Popular Resources
15 signs that it’s more than just the blues
Can depression and anxiety cause heart disease? Get the facts in this Missouri Medicine report.
Simple, drug-free tips to banish the blues.
A guide to 10 common phobias.
Are there grounds to recommend coffee consumption? Recent studies perk interest.
For many, mental health care is prohibitively expensive. Dr. Rebecca Resnik provides a guide on how to find free or reduced-fee treatment in your area