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.
Avatar universal

I would not go off the meds before my wedding...

I would excerise with weights before the wedding...if you can increase your muscle mass you will burn more calories in addition to looking fit.

I was trying to lose the last 5 lbs and then decide to just start lifting weights again...I have toned up fairly well in the past month...and my pants were actually falling down the other day!

And my friend asked me if I had lost weight!! And I didnt lose a pound...just toned up!

Hope this helps!
Avatar universal
Once again, it's good to hear about some success.

Monday is my last day of work for the summer.  I have bought all the measuring utensils, a food scale, figured the amount of calories I should need to eat to lose two pounds a week.

On Tuesday, I see my doctor about meds and hopefully Wed. I will be started on my way to weight loss.  It's hard to let myself hope after so many disappointments, but I have to get up and try.  I want to move out of pre-diabetes and never into diabetes.
Avatar universal
I have been on Lexapro for a year now, and am trying to come off it..I cannot stand the loss of sexual feelings and really just most feelings in general. I also gained 30 pounds, I started taking birth control about 6 months back after having an iud for 10 years..I did lose 10 pounds i was carrying due to harmons. But I have also been eating much less and excersing and getting no where. I have always been small and never had a problem with losing a few pounds if I wanted..but on the Lexapro..I have never been so heavy in my life and never been so unable to get rid of even a few pounds. I stopped cold turkey from 10mg a day about 4 days ago, but the bouts of crying and unable to even function are too much so i took 10mg today. I realize I have to cut down slower to come off this drug instead of cold turkey. I wondered though if anyone has been able to lose wieght with just cutting down on the drug, or do you have to come off it all together? I have taken WB befor..not good for me AT ALL...
Really want to know if I may be able to lose the wieght while I spend the time to come off the drug.
Avatar universal
I was on Lexapro for several months and gained 14 pounds very quickly.  I did some research and recently asked my doctor if it would be an ok idea to switch to Wellbutrin.  He said we could try it.  The good news?  Along with the medication switch and restricted caloric intake I have lost 10 pounds in the last three weeks.  The bad news?  The Wellbutrin hasn't kicked in yet and the depression symptoms are back.  I'm trying to stick it out and wait until I've been on Wellbutrin 4 weeks before I make any decisions about going back to Lexapro or trying yet another antidepressant.
Avatar universal
im really skinny , im desperate to put weight on, and have tried everything to put on weight so do you think antidepressants would work on me. i am depressed anyway so shall i try it?
Avatar universal
I went on Effexor 18 months approximately 18 months ago.  I gained about 15lbs on it.  Lithium was added last year and I luckily only gained another 5lbs on that...  I went off the lithium at the beginning of this year and was able to lose a few pounds... I was taking 225mg Effexor and have weaned myself down to 75mg (trying to get off it) and am currently trying to actively lose weight.  I'm having a very hard time of it.  My psychiatrist did tell me that while the literature on Effexor doesn't list weight gain as a side effect, he said a lot of people gain at least 15lbs.
Avatar universal

I have had insomnia for about 7 months in 2004 and was put on 2 medications lithium and respridol, which made me eat like crazy, i grabbed everything of food in sight. Naturally i have medium apetite and always had a sweet tooth. I weighted about 128lbs at the time, and gained 10lbs in 10 days, and then 18 more lbs during the next couple of months. I was quickly put off respridol coz it made me depressed, but i was on lithium for over a year. I have been off of it for about 7 months now, but havent lost a pound. What can i do to lose this weight? I dont eat so much anymore
Avatar universal
hi everyone

im not gaining weight from last 10 years.
Im 6'.3" n weigh around 120lbs.
Shall i take some sort of antidepressant, like Wellbutrin
as i have slight anxiety problem.

Suggest me something
Avatar universal

I'm so sorry to hear about your problem!  Have you had your thyroid checked?
Avatar universal
If you have depression, the med that causes the most weight gain seems to be Paxil.

Wellbutrin is the least likely to cause weight gain.  But, keep in mind that not all people gain weight on antidepressants.  Many do as is obvious from this post, but not everyone.  You could surely find people who have been on a few different antidepressants and not gained weight.
Avatar universal
Hi All!

I finally saw my doctor.  He didn't want to give me wellbutrin because I tried it two years back and it made me jittery.  I wanted to try it again because I didn't give it much time.

Former weight gain recipe=effexor/lithium.  Since I'm also feeling a bit off and need my med adjusted, he decided to transition me from lithium to ritalin (yes-what ADD kids take--a mild amphetamine)He didn't give it to me for weight loss, but because he thought it was the best adjustment, but of course it doesn't hurt that it might also help me lose weight.  Today was my first day taking 5 mgs. 2xs/day.  I'm super med. sensitive and had nausea, dizziness and listlessness, hopefully that will subside in time and I will be able to wean off the lithium.

I've also been eating only 1400 calories a day and exercising more.  In the past two weeks, I've lost 3 pounds.  I know it isn't much, but considering the fact that I've done nothing but gain over and over for the past year.

If you pray and can spare a prayer for me, please do.  If not, wish me luck.

I'm not happy that so many of you have this problem, but I am glad that so many of us have been able to communicate and hopefully help each pther out.  All the best!
Avatar universal

first of all thanks for replying to my question.
ya i checked my thyroid, n its normal.
I gained some knowledge from reserching about these things n came to conclusion, which i think u people must know that
these antidepressants are actually drugs
what i mean is ---- those who take these some or the other time in their life become habitual to these ----
its a fact n over to this, private doctors who suggest these actually want to earn more and more $$$ in number of sittings which can be more dangerous than your problem. What my suggestion to this is
1. Meditate n
2. Involve in your surroundings(activities)

its actually depend on the extent of problem to which it has been grown.
I felt that in AMERICA n in develop/rich countries people tend to take these more often which is VERY VERY DANGEROUS.
(according to my study through newspapers n internet)

too big, i wrote thes to you because i think u can understand my feelings as u already did, and i want you to share thse things within your forums...people
-thanks for bearing me so long
"share things and you can make this world a beautiful place to live in"
Avatar universal
my doctor has just given me an anti depressant called CITALOPRAM. does any1 know anything about this. im hoping that it will put some weight on me too! has any 1 got any information about this?
Avatar universal
Depression is a disease of the brain, chronic disease similar to diabetes.  Though meditataing may be helpful, I probably would be completely disabled without it, as depression is not just about being in a bad mood.  People have genetic predispositions.  It runs in families.  It can in some people have horrific physical symptoms.  It can completely destroy lives.  It kills.  Scans of the brain show that depressed brains during a time of depression look very different from healthy ones.  Part of the brain looks inactive.  
I recently read in a book by Peter D. Kramer, professor of psychiatry at Brown University who also wrote talking to Prozac.  A woman studied brains of dead who had had a significant spell of depression at some point in their lives.  In this study, they found a number of brain abnormalities as compared with never depressed brains.  Depressed brains often do not have glia cells or if they do they are deformed or dead.  Glia cells protect the nerves in the brain for example.
This should be a supportive place where people who have a serious chronic disease can get help, not a place where our pain should be dismissed or have to deal once again with the stigma of the disease.
I know that the information I have about all this is good and correct.  I am a librarian with a Master's degree in Library and Information Science.  I also know that there is a lot of misinformation out there, so Amit, I would seriously question your source.  Not everything on the internet is true
Yes!  The meds change our brain chemistry.  That's the point.  The purpose in our immediate lives is to end our suffering so we can live normal lives, but it is also to stop damage to our brain.  They do have VERY unpleasant side effects for many people.  No one whose health didn't depend on them would take them!  In my case, I gained over 50 pounds.  I stayed on it despite that because I feared literally putting my life in danger if I changed meds again.

Again, I want to thank all the supportive people who have posted!
Avatar universal
After a week of measuring all my food, eating tons of healthy veggies and other good stuff and exercising more.  And after my 2nd day of adding 10 mgs. of ritalin to my med regime, sine the beginning of June, I have lost 5 pounds.  I'm so excited!  I've never been able to lose a single pound while on antidepressants!
Not even when I went down to 1200 calories a day and put personal training on my credit card when I was on awful Paxil.

I'm so excited!  I'm still experiencing side effects from the ritalin, but they are far less today.
Avatar universal
I'm down to about 35 mm of imimprimine/tofranil from 150 and am on 200 mm of welbutrin. I had a bad day yesterday with depression and anxiety. Don't know whether it is lack of imimprimine, effects of welbutrin or just me talking myself into it because it is so terrifying to me to have it all come back! I don't know if I've lost any weight as I don't weigh myself. I'll have to wait until I go to the doctor and see if I've lost any since I won't let them tell me exactly how much I weigh because it is too darn depressing.

I am also having chest pains. Don't know what that's about.
Avatar universal
Yes!! I, too,  have experienced weight gain with Lexapro.  Over the past 8 years my doc has changed my anti depression meds so many times I am not sure I could tell you all of the ones, or all of the combinations.    Over the past 6 mos. have been on 300 mg of Wellbutrin XL, 100 mg Lamictal and 20 mg Lexapro.   Although I have always been med compliant.... recently, I decided to cut out the Lexapro.  I went to 10 mg for a week, 10 mg every other day for 2 weeks and now no Lexapro at all.  I have not changed the other two.  

What have any of you found to be side effects of cutting back the Lexapro?  I have had foggy thinking,  blurred vision, odd dreams, cranky disposition, aches in neck and back of head, less hungry and I cry very easily. Are these similar to yours?    When will this get better?  

I would like to lower the Wellbutrin, too, but am not quite ready to think of that yet.  I understand that the Lamictal is a leveler and maybe that should stay.  (Ha. Back in the 60s I almost flunked chemistry, so am a little leary to be playing games with these meds. Ha.)

My initial complaint, 8 years ago to my family doc was that I was so totally fatigued when I got home that I went to bed at 5:30PM and got up at 7AM and back to work, and on and on until the weekend when I would sleep the whole weekend away.  I also had a very foggy brain at work and in social situations.  

After all these years and all these meds, I still complain of extreme fatigue and foggy thinking.  I sleep now from 9PM to 7AM and a bit more on weekends.  Additionally, if I am hit with any conflict or serious problem at work, I sleep as soon as I can get home.  

Why am I not a lot better by now?

I would love to be without meds.  My doc tells me that I will more than likely need meds my whole life.  Who knows?  I have had three psychs, all really good, all seeming to think we have not found the right combination yet.

Any suggestions you all could give would be appreciated. Thanks.
Avatar universal
I am having the same EXACT situation, add lamictal to that collection as well for my epilepsy.  I just had my doctor wean me off of everything except the lamictal, and I feel like I'm losing my mind.  Even on all of the other meds, I was feeling awful..but I just waited and waited to see if anything would change, but it never did.  Except for the weight.  Oh, and I have viciously bad menstrual cycles, and irregular to the point I have absolutely no clue when I'm getting it.  I've heard suggestions about other meds to relieve some of the depression around that time...problem is..I never know what time that is for me!!!! I feel like I'm in a fishbowl.

Any suggestions on an anti-depressant/mood stabilizers that can get me back on track.  I literally don't know what to do with myself.
246464 tn?1249455747
10 years of Paxil- i gained 75 pounds.
Avatar universal
Look up "Gwen Olsen" on youtube or google video.
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