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Avatar universal

dropping the Effexor/Lexapro weight gain

Can anyone give me an idea of how long it usually takes for your metabolism to recalibrate after stopping Effexor and/or Lexapro?  I've gained significant weight while on these drugs (despite an intense exercise program and careful diet).  My nutritionist and MD told me that the drugs likely altered my metabolism, but no one can tell me how long it will take to correct that.  Most frustrating, I've noticed that since I stopped taking both, my weight gain has accelerated.  Any ideas as to how long I need to endure this or ideas for correcting my metabolism?  Thanks.
835 Responses
Avatar universal
28 days on lexapro and 8 lbs. I quit taking it because I fell asleep driving home from work. Tomorrow will be 2 weeks off lex. No weight loss,no sex drive yet. The diarreha has finally stopped (yea), head zaps gone, all I am left with is a stomach that looks like I am 9 months pregnant, no sex drive and am now sleeping in an extra bedroom because I guess the boyfriend has decided I have had enough time to "get over it".
Lexapro was the happy pill...when I was awake that is. It helped me numb out my sisters suicide for a short time..now I am kicking myself constantly for thinking I couldn't handle it and took something that has turned my life upside down in yet another way.
912879 tn?1247529359
I too gained over 20 lbs in 6 months from Lexapro.

I had been on a combination of Wellbutrin/Lexapro for a long time, but about 6 months ago my dr. increased my dosage of Lexapro to help me deal with my seasonal affect disorder.  That's when I began to really pack on the pounds!  

I found that the Lexapro dramatically increased my appetite, and not only that, I craved carbohydrates all the time.  I also didn't feel full after meals, it was like I could eat and eat and eat and I was never satisfied.  In addition, I would be hungry and hour and a half after eating a meal.

Yesterday I stopped taking the Lexapro and got my Wellbutrin prescription refilled (I had been out for a few weeks)...  

According to WebMD, one of the side effects of Wellbutrin is, "weight loss of 5 pounds or more".  So, I'm hoping that by not taking the Lexapro ("fat pill"), and by taking the wellbutrin ("skinny pill"), my weight will return to normal...I know in the past when I have run out of wellbutrin, I noticed that I always gained weight while not taking it, and lost the weight when I got back on it--hopefully this time will be the same...

I will keep you all posted on any developments on the weight-loss front, hang in there everyone!!!
912879 tn?1247529359
Well, I took my last pill of Lexapro on the 20th and started taking 150mg of Wellbutrin in the morning.  Today is the 26th and I have lost 3 lbs (less than a week)!  Not only that, I lost the 3 lbs without any exercise (I usually exercise an hour a day 4 days a week, at least)!  

I have noticed that my appetite has been more normal than it was while I was taking the lexapro, I'm not having the uncontrollable carbohydrate/sugar cravings, and I'm not hungry all the time as I was before.  I notice this especially at night, when I was on Lexapro, my appetite at night was out of control.  Now, I can stop eating a few hours before bed and I'm not starving like I was before.

Also, I have noticed that my sex drive has gone through the roof (my boyfriend is really happy)!

The one drawback is that I've been more irritable/emotional.

Will keep everyone posted with updates.  Keep on keepin' on everyone!
Avatar universal
Hey Guys, I just wanted to update.

So my weight went up from being on Effexor (which i have been completely off of for 6 months).  in reading around I heard about Topamax, I talked to my psychiatrist and we decided to give it a try.  It is a anti-seizure/migraine medicine....it's pretty hard core and people can get some crazy side effects from it.  One of those side effects happens to be weight loss.  And I've read in a few places that weight gain from SSRIs tends to be hit the hardest from Topamax.  It also is NOT known for having bad withdrawal symptoms (wasn't going to go through that again), so I knew I could stop it whenever/if ever the side effects became too bad.

So I've been on Topamax for a month, started when my weight was around 178, now i'm down to 168.  So great progress on weight loss.  What happened from the very first day I started Topamax was an extreme loss of appetite.  Before, I was eating around 1800 calories a day, now I'm eating 800-1200.  So, I imagine that is where the weight loss comes from.....I don't think it's doing anything else biologically besides appetite suppression, but it really helps not to be hungry!

I'm going to have to come off of it soon though, i've started getting a side effect...hair loss.  I'm going to try some supplements and different shampoos first, and see if i can hold out for 15 more lbs to reach my goal weight (pre effexor weight).  We'll see.


-Effexhell
Avatar universal
Hello~~~~I have been on Lexapro for four years too long.  During that time I have gained around 80 pounds.  I started using lexapro because of a lost of a love one.    If anything with this weight gain it caused me more problems mentally and physically.  I am a very active person and worked out 4-7 days a week 1 to 2 hours a day.  I dropped back in my workouts because of too much excercise.  My eating habits changed in the sense of eating more, tired and I still had mood swings.  This past spring I experienced more problems especially being so tired where it was hard to make it through a work day.  During the four years I have become a diabetic and I have hypothyrodism disease.  I have finally had enough of this poison and I have taken myself off of lexapro 20 mg.  It has been seven days and I lost 6 pounds.  I quit cold turkey and I have been keeping myself busy like you wouldn't believe.  What side effects am I experiencing?  Dizziness, nausea, diahrea, pins and needles located on the back of my head.  My emotional state, is doing well because I am talking my way through this in a positive way.   I do not see a therapist anymore and will not return to one again.  I got on this poison because of my therapist.  I do not have good things to say about therapy.  My therapy is my family, exercising, enjoying my friends and keeping busy by doing things that are good for me or someone else.  I set goals for myself each day that I want to achieve and if I don't achieve them that day, I make sure I do it the next day.  I make realistic goals.   Has this seven days been easy?  No, it has not been but I will succeed!!  I do not like the physical feeling that I am going through but you have to have determination to forward oneself.  I have taken some time off from work and if I would be working it would be very difficult with the physical changes I am going through.  I am a professional person and it is very important for me to be on top of things with my position.   I did not tell my doctor that I was going to stop.  The reason is because she mentioned if I would go off and wanted back on, I would have to go back to therapy.  I was afraid if I failed then therapy was the only way of getting the drug.  So, by not talking to the doctor about it, if all fails I would still have the prescription.  Is that the smart thing to do? No.  What bothers me is these doctors say that it is not the drug that causes the weight gain.  Ok, then why is that every person that I know of that takes a SSRI drug gains weight?  Also, I feel it is important that people are informed about what the effects are when you go off this drug.  I really feel for those who are really addicted on drugs.  I now have some sort of idea what a person has to go through.  My hat is off to them to those who succeed.
Well enough said,  I will keep the board posted on how I am doing physically, mentally and how the weight loss is going.  I will succeed~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
912879 tn?1247529359
I feel for you on what you're going through.  I have had a similar experience.  I gained 30 lbs from Lexapro.  I am a personal trainer and I work out at least 4 days a week for AT LEAST an hour.  It's not like I don't know what I'm doing when I'm working out either; not like I'm doing it the wrong way or my routine isn't effective.  I mean, my B.S. was in Exercise Science and I have multiple personal training certifications.  I literally thought I was going crazy.  I could not for the life of me figure out why I was suddenly packing on the pounds!  

I found this really helpful article on WebMD that said weight gain happens in about 25% of people on certain anti-depressants (especially lexapro, effexor, paxil and a few others).

The article also said that one of the reasons why doctors believed lexapro/certain other antidepressants didn't cause weight gain was because the clinical trials for the drugs only lasted 8-12 weeks, and weight gain didn't begin until after being on the drug for 6 months or more (on average), according to WebMD.  

Anyway, when I read that article & found this discussion board, I quit Lexapro the next day, cold turkey.  The first week or two of being off the lexapro sucked.  I literally cried everyday, sometimes numerous times a day for basically no reason (like at commercials and stuff).  But, I've been on Wellbutrin 300 xl for almost a month now and I feel A LOT better.  I haven't had a big decrease in my weight yet, but I hear it can take up to 6 weeks for a drug to take full effect in the body.  I'm still a little scared to get on the scale for fear that all my hard work isn't paying off yet--I've been working SO HARD with eating healthily and working out.  I think I'm going to get on the scale tomorrow, keep your fingers crossed for me!  I will do the same for you!

Keep on keepin on :)
Avatar universal
I was 19 when i went on 10mg of Lexapro and in 8 months balooned from 130 to 171. I gained 41 pounds in 8 months!! A 19yrs, old. I went to the doctor majorly concerned and she said that the Lexapro had nothing to do with it--i must be eating more. The funny thing is i wasn't and on top of that i have been trying to LOSE it to little or no avail. I started weening off of it 5mg a day now and am on Weight Watchers and have lost 10 pounds however seem to be at a stand still. i am sooo frusterated! I have stretch marks EVERYWHERE now and ugh feel sooo unattractive.
912879 tn?1247529359
So I weighed myself today.  I've only lost 2 lbs. and I've been off Lexapro since June 21.  This is BS.  I have never had such a problem losing weight!  I used to be able to drop 2 lbs. in a week if I wanted to!  It's soooo frustrating.  I am trying to look on the bright side, because at least I am losing weight and not gaining anymore, it's just extremely slow progress.  
Avatar universal
I need some help. I went off Effexor completely about 2 1/2 almost three months ago. I was on it for roughly 9 months starting July 08. At first I dropped weight on the drug and then come October I started gaining. I had always been small with a rapid metabolism. My build was 118 at 5'5. My largest on Effexor was 138, so 20 lbs roughly in 6 months :(

When I initially went off the medication I dropped about 5 lbs in water wihtin the first 2 weeks. Now, 2 more months later, I cant drop a single pound!!! I work out 4 times a week 45 minutes of cardio and weight lifting and eat healthy. I am so so VERY frustrated and cant seem to get an answer from anyone as to when or how this weight will come off!!! I wish someone could tell me how long on average it will take for it to come off. Do I need to diet more? Exercise more? What do I need to do??? IS this weight permanent??

Please help, any advice would be appreciated.
912879 tn?1247529359
I'm in the same boat as you.  It's been a lot harder for me to shed these unwanted pounds than it ever was in the past, my progress has been painfully slow, but the scale is moving, slowly but surely...One person told me that her M.D. said it would take approximately the same amount of time to lose the weight as it took for her to put it on (which is depressing) but who knows if that statement is accurate or not...

What's your diet look like (a typical day)?  Are you doing any kind of food journaling?  What about your strength training routine?  My B.S. was in Exercise Science, and I personal train, let me know if there's anything I can do to help/any questions I can answer...

Hang in there!
912879 tn?1247529359
I forgot to add that it takes about 12 weeks for the body to make a complete physiological change.  I would expect your weight loss to start to pick up after about 12 weeks, so try to not be super frustrated if your progress is very slow during the initial 3 months...
Avatar universal
Wow.  I just read every single comment here, and I was astounded at how many other people have the same weight gain/loss issues with Lexapro as I do. I'm a 21-yr old female, and I began taking 10mg Lexapro a year ago after a bad breakup.  In that time I have gained around 30-35 lbs, going from a size 6 to a 12.  A month ago, I had had enough and went to my doctor to ask how to begin weaning myself off the medication.  I told him that I eat 1000 cals. a day or less and exercise at least 4 times a week, but still GAIN weight.  He told me that was impossible.  Before, I could lose weight very easily with just a little bit of effort!!  I took one pill every other day for two weeks and the "head zap" was the worst side effect for me.  I didn't know what to call it, but it felt like someone was unplugging my brain and plugging it back in all the time, and I was terribly dizzy/lightheaded.  

Another thing that no one else has really mentioned, I also gained a severe alcohol abuse problem while taking Lexapro.  I drank before, but probably only once a week.  With the Lexapro making me less depressed, you would think I wouldn't end up an alcoholic (it did make me feel waaaaaay less anxious/depressed).  By the beginning of April, I was having six to seven drinks a day (and of course I would always pass out because of the meds).  My boyfriend told me how concerned he was about me, and I resolved to quit drinking completely.  This was hard at first, which made me worry if I had become a full-fledged alcoholic instead of a wild college student.  After stopping the Lexapro, NO CRAVING for alcohol whatsoever.  I have had exactly two beers in the past three months.  WTF?!  I went from craving/needing nearly ten drinks a day to two in three months?!  The Lexapro had something to do with it, I'm convinced.  Just curious if anyone else had this symptom.  

Now, after having been off the Lexapro for a little over a month, I feel fine emotionally.  Very very slightly more anxious, but that's it.  I think most of my depression/anxiety was situational because of my breakup last year.  The meds simply helped numb me until I could get over it myself.  I also have more energy and initiative.  HOWEVER, if there has there has been only a slight weight loss (>5 lbs).  Although, it has only been a week or so since I have really buckled down with the diet and exercise, and during this week I have been on my period.  (I'm one of those rare girls who don't get many food cravings on it :D)  Once I'm off my period and free of that water weight, I will weigh myself and post here with progress if anyone is interested.  

I would encourage anyone who feels like they might be able to handle going off Lexapro to do so.  The side effects are completely gone by two weeks, and I think it was one of the best decisions I have ever made.
912879 tn?1247529359
When I was doing my own research on lexapro I stumbled across this message board, and I was also really amazed by how many people were having the same side effects as I was!  I literally thought I was going crazy, because I suddenly started to put on a good deal of weight for no apparent reason!  

I had pretty much the same symptoms as you mentioned.  Although I didn't start drinking more, when I would drink, I would almost always blackout; not sure if that had anything to do with the medication, but I guess we will find out as time goes on...

Keep us posted with your progress!!!  Good luck with everything :)



Avatar universal
I feel better knowing I am not alone.
912879 tn?1247529359
Ok, so I'm writing everyone to update on my progress since discontinuing Lexapro...

As of tomorrow, July 21st, it will have been 2 months since my first day off lexapro, cold turkey.  The first month was sooo frustrating, I only lost 2 lbs, and I was working my butt off (unfortunately not literally) with eating extremely healthily and exercising almost everyday.  

Month two went a lot better though!  I lost 7 lbs this month, for a total loss of 9 lbs in 2 months!  It's not a whole lot, but if you average it out, it's slightly over 1lb/wk, which I'm pretty content with.  I'm just happy the weight loss has started to pick up and all my hard work is finally starting to pay off!

Hopefully this will help anyone out there wondering how long it is going to take to start to lose the weight gained from taking lexapro/effexor/paxil, etc!
Avatar universal
Thank you cjpietrz for your response.

I just recently started thyroid/metabolism vitamins as my thyroid is a little low per blood work I had done. Maybe that is what I need to do to give my metabolism a little kick. Im trying eat smaller meals more frequently-fruits, vegetable, low carb. My doctor said I need to "wake up" my body with new exercises and new eating habits. I do quite a bit of strength training and incorporate it into every other work out.

Its just shocking how in 2 months the weight has not budged at all. I have a hard time believing that it will come off. My dr also said I am past the point of it just "falling off" that at this rate I will need to really work at it. SO frustrating as I am already working at it. It took me total 6 months to gain the weight, the first three I was loosing weight.
Avatar universal
I have had the same problem with Lexapro, as far as weight gain and withdrawl symptoms. I started the Lexapro in May and I have been in the process of weening myself off. I had alot of dizzy spells, and if I turned my head too fast I would lose my balance. I also have terrible headaches and feel thirsty. I havent had any meds or 2 days, though I feel fatter every day. I woke up today and none of my pants would fit.

I am supposed to start Wellbutrin XL, 150mg but I heard it causes seizures....anyone experience those???
912879 tn?1247529359
I'm taking Wellbutrin XL and I have had zero problems with it.  I love it, and it has really helped me with the weight loss!
Avatar universal
I too googled 'Weight gain on Lexapro' and was brought to this site. I must say it was so good to be able to identify with so many of you.
I started taking Lexapro in March 2008 for Anxiety and ever since then I have put on so much weight. I must say that it has not eradicated my anxiety completely, but it has certainly helped, but the weight gain is quite difficult to deal with. As you all described, especially my midsection. I am 5 9" and used to weigh about 75 kilos and now weigh close to 90kg. It is making me so upset. I am going to discuss it with the doctor tomorrow. Unlike alot of the comments I read; my doctor confirmed that all depression/ anxiety medication makes you gain weight. I too have not changed my routine, exercise but am still packing it on. This is the problem with Lexapro. As they say how can something so good be something so bad.
Avatar universal
A few things:
Clearly this is an issue for virtually everyone on this drug, From what I have been reading about leptin and insulin lately, it makes alot of sense.
It seems to me that this is not a drug to mess with, none of them are, unless you really need it. Sometimes, we do. Sometimes it's unnecessary and sometimes it's a last resort. I dont think it is something to mess with for mild depression, i think it is worth the risks only when there is a serious crisis or unbearable symptoms. I think everything else should be tried FIRST.  I think it is sad for the people who didn't necessarily think they were depressed and their doctors just casually "put them on" it. Many of these might have avoided it.

For me, it was necessary. I never in my life thought I would need an antidepressant, but sometimes too many losses and serious life circumstances in a short period of time makes it necessary. There is such a thing as trauma and too much of it. You can need help in coping that even a therapist alone cannot give. I have to say that for me, although I was HIGHLY skeptical about it, Lexapro was a lifesaver. It worked great, right away, it helped me heal and do the emotional work. And after ten months on it, I really like how I feel.  I didnt expect to.

I am ready to taper off because I am through the crisis and doing great, but I will say I was one of the lucky ones--in this nearly a year I have had NO side effects ...EXCEPT for the weight gain. I never had any others after the first few days--I just feel better on it. No tiredness or headaches or nausea or anything--not even low libido!  And I did keep my emotions--I could still cry. If it werent for the fat, I might not be in any rush to get off of it. But i have gone from a size 2 to a size 6 in this time.    I realize that is not as bad as many of the stories so again I am lucky. And it's been slow---first four months nothing, then suddenly it piled on, just like everyone describes. I went from fitting into my jeans to a week or two later, NOT. And since then it's been a struggle. I am EXTREMELY knowledgeable about food and health, a vegetarian etc. Always had a VERY fast metabolism. Was a size 2 for years without even exercising. I did need to gain a little weight because I had gotten very thin from the stress of my circumstances. (The 2s had been getting loose.) I gained about ten pounds in the last 6 months and it held steady for that period and now it's moving again. so i think it is time to wean off.

i guess ten pounds in 6 months is not so bad compared to some. But it feels just as weird to me as it does to others, to eat well and exercise, and still be all fleshy and not have clothes fit.  And yes, the belly fat! for me its thighs too. So anyway...it could be worse, but from these stories I see it could get worse, so I'm going to try to quit while I'm ahead. I found these boards because I was curious to find out what people had to say about losing wieght after Lexapro.
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