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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
I've been on Lexapro (20MG) for the past 5 years - decided it wasn't working for me anymore - I almost felt I had built a tolerence for it, plus I gained a good 30 lbs - but at the time, I would rather be fat and happy then the alternative, the only problem was I was just the fat part! Anyway, I was just recently put on Wellbutrin and tapered off Lexapro, I had some withdrawl symptoms (dizzy,sweats, brain zaps,) but it was nothing I couldn't handle, I am totally Lexapro free and let me tell you - it's like I'm re-born, I feel like I finally woke up from a zombie like dream state, and I have my life back! Not to mention I've lost 12 pounds already (I've been on Wellbutrin for about 2 months) and I have energy, drive and my interest are back, not to mention my relationships are better with friends,family and myself. I would strongly suggest that IF Lexapro isn't really working for you, try wellbutrin and tapering off that poision - again, everyone is differnt, for some Lexapro is wroking great and saving thier lives, but for those that don't feel that way - Start living, get your life back - go now!
Avatar universal
I am a 44 y.o. woman who went to my primary care doctor today and found out that I have gained 23 pounds since my annual exam a year ago.  My doctor mentioned that my weight gain may be related to my meds.  I think I've been on Lexapro 10 mg for ~ a year and a half.  I came home and found this wonderful website.  I am now convinced that Lexapro is the culprit behind me going from a size 8 to a 14! Actually, the shorts I have on this evening are size 16 :-) !  

I am not a person who has struggled with weight gain historically.  I had weighed about the same since I got married 23 years ago.  While I totally get that gaining weight as you age is natural, gaining 23 pounds in a year is nuts to me.  The thing that scared me today is that I just keep packing on the pounds with no end in sight.    

I must say that I have loved being on Lexapro as it has enabled me to go to sleep at night without laying awake thinking negative thoughts about myself and over analyzing situations.  It has taken the edge off of things and I find I'm much more calm.  That being said, I do have to admit that I have nightmares, night sweats, no libido, and my husband tells me I sleep more than I ever have.  I hadn't made the connection between Lexapro and my low energy level.  I used to love to shop or run errands on my lunch hour but now find that I don't have the energy to even go into a store most days.  Instead, I end up sitting in my car reading a book.

I'm thinking I'm going to skip my dose of Lexapro tomorrow and then go from there.  Luckily, I just bought some fall clothes that fit me now so if I don't lose weight right away, I will still have some clothes to wear.

Avatar universal
I'm so grateful to have come across this forum.  But with so many similar stories, I'm saddened at how much we're blaming ourselves. I'm 30, female, a marathon runner, and still have gained 20 pounds over the past 2 years.  Working in the entertainment/fashion industries and being single, you can imagine this adds to anxiety and feeling down and helpless.

I just want to caution everyone about quitting cold turkey - I did this last summer because I suspected it was the source of my weight gain, and descended to near-suicidal.  Not to mention the dizziness!  Definitely quit or cut down under the supervision of doctors and or loved ones.

Good luck and much love to everyone.  There's no reason anyone should ever be stuck in depression -- everyone deserves to be happy.
Avatar universal
I gained 10lbs in about 5 weeks on 15mgs of Lexapro ...this is not acceptable & I'm weaning myself off it.  I was in a loosing mode when I went on it and I'm not eating more or excersizing less ...no reason for this weight gain.  I was already 25lbs overweight ...now it's 35!
Avatar universal

I'm a 16 female, and was put on Lexapro to ease moderate to severe anxiety and moderate depression. While on the drug, I gained almost 25 pounds, which can be attributed to the medicine rather than eating habits. Though I was extremely active and watched what I ate, my metabolism was out of control, and could not monitor my weight until iI reached 125 pounds. I finally decided that I would take myself off the medicine, and after going cold turkey for several weeks, I found that both my weight and appetite had decreased. Now on Cymbalta, I am quite worried that these symptoms may return, though the drugs are not in the same chemical family. My doctor has claimed that this medicine should not cause weight gain, but after researching the side effects, it is evident that many patients do. I cannot help but be worried, yet with my history, it is not permitted that I take Wellbutrin (commonly associated with weight loss) for fear of seizures. I cannot come off medicine for the intensity of my anxiety is on occasion debilitating, and severely inhibits my progress in both school and social functions. If you are considering Lexapro, consider it with your doctor first, especially if you are prone to weight gain. Obviously, its capabilities have not been fully discovered, and if you are wary of negative side effects as such, be cautioned.
Avatar universal
I started taking Paxil right before age 40 when anxiety/panic attacks started happening on a dailty basis.  I've never had any issues with depression.  My doctor thought because it stemmed from a childhood tragedy of my father dying and not doing anything for 30 years I woud need to be on it for a long time. Within 10 months I gained 22 pounds.  I have weighed between 123-125 since high school and I'm 5'7".  Even after having my first and only baby at 35 I went right back to the same 125.  My doctor argued age and said "women at age 40 tend to gain 1 pound a year for 8 years" and I was like "didn't you understand that I just said 22 lbs in 10 months and the only lifestyle change I made was taking Paxil?"  His words were "well maybe".  After 2 years I went back and insisted on trying another drug to possibly lose weight, but still control the anxiety.  I was switched to Effexor.  By accident of not reading the label I was only taking one a day instead of the prescribed 2 a day 75 mg each.  I felt just as good and actually lost 12 lbs.  But after about 6 months it went back to the 22.  Going from being tall/slim my whole life this extra weight has been hard on me.  I eat very healthy, don't exercise alot but I've never had to before.  This August 31 I went to my doctor to tell him I wanted to try to wean myself off the Effexor.  He was relunctant but told me to take it slowly.  The next day I started taking every other day for 2 weeks and was fine.  I then went to every 3 days and did good until about 8 weeks.  The last two weeks I've had some nervousness coming back.  I had asked him for some Xanax just to carry around in case I felt I needed it.   Well, now I feel I need it on those other two days.  Just one in the morning.  I did immediately start to lose some in my hips and below my breasts, but the belly fat doesn't seem to want to go away yet.  One thing I noticed is that right after I started taking less I had to urinate very often for about 2-3 weeks like it was a water gain.  Very strange.  I was very nervous this morning, but it's also my period start day and don't know if that is a contributor.  I absolutely don't want back to everyday effexor, but I don't want to start xanax everyday either.  Any ideas????
Avatar universal
Please read - met with doctor today to discuss Lexapro extreme weight gain and her HONEST response!!!    1 in 25 will have rapid weight gain... read on....

I have never blogged before, but I am absolutely addicted to reading everyone's experiences on here.... once I found all these responses, I knew instantly that the Lexapro caused my weight gain too.

I was on it for 2 months - gradually to 20 mg...  gained TEN lbs in 2 weeks.   Granted I was gradually gaining weight since the age of 25 (now 31), this was excessive and I had actually reduced calories and worked out more in those 2 months.

Always had a fast metabolism, and naturally toned and muscular... could eat all I wanted and barely exercised.  

I was at a steady 145 - 150 lbs at 5'5, but still comfortable.   This additional 10 lbs to 160 lbs threw me over the edge... no clothes that fit, extreme bloating in the stomach (that's hereditary in my family, the pot belly), but I look 6 mo pregnant...   also as other's have posted, I always had very toned arms naturally, and never had a double chin and bloated FACE ... now celluite looking in my arms...  just not acceptable.

Aside from the weight gain, complete loss of sex drive, inability to climax, 95% distracted and unfocused, and absoulutely NO short term memory, plus additional clumsiness, not to mention worsened PMS and menstrual symptoms.... UGH!

I had tried both Paxil and Zoloft briefly in my early 20's for a couple months at a time, and I think my extremely fast metabolism at the time prevented dramatic weight gain (I used to be between 125 - 135 from age 18-25 and felt GREAT about my shape)...  I just didn't like the the other side effects.

So,  I thought medicine had advanced throughout the years and would give it a try again (for social anxiety and mild depression)...  Lexapro it was.  

Once I told the Dr I had gained 10lbs in past 2 weeks, after stabilized at 20 mg Lexapro for a month, she instantly replied, that's way too much and have to get you off this, and gave me the taper schedule (which I had already started a week ago after reading all the posts).   She mentioned trying Wellbutrin after clearing out the Lexapro, and I didn't want to argue just yet, but I will never trust another anti-depressant again - aside from the weight gain, the other side effects are just not worth it.

I asked her about Lexapro and Weight Gain and how common is it among people -   1 in 25, and I just so happened to have the bad luck, and that they do watch for the weight gain side effect.... fair enough, considering she was aware and honest, but if I hadn't come across this website before my appt with her, I certainly wouldn't have thought to place the blame of the weight gain on Lexapro, so THANK YOU ALL FOR SHARING stories, and good luck to all!!!!

Please look at this article from Psychology Today that I saw in a previous post:


I'm past the anger of it since I know there is an end in sight....
Avatar universal
I just posted above my long story...

I tapered down from Lexapro 20 mg to 10 mg last week.   This week, I averaged about 7.5 mg a day.

I weighed myself Tuesday morning at 157.5.    I got on the scale this morning (Friday) for ha ha's and was surprised to see 155.5 ...    granted that includes 2 hours at the gym and a rather strict diet, I am now hopeful that I will be able to drop this weight much more quickly than before after reading all the horror stories out there about it.

And as someone else commented I feel much less BLOATED already!

The Dr did say yesterday that as I decrease the dose, the side effects will go away just as fast - I am hoping....
Avatar universal
Thanks for all the great posts.  They are vey helpful and encouraged me to add my information, just in case it helps anyone else.

I have recently weaned off Lexapro.  I was prescribed the drug after a job promotion and having trouble dealing with the stress that came along with it.  I stopped taking the drug about 4 weeks.  The first three weeks off the drug, I felt like I had a bug zapper in my head.  That's the only way I can describe the withdrawal.  After the end of the 3rd week, it did subside.  Luckily, I didn't have any pain and feel great at this point.  

I took 10 mg lexapro for 16 months.  My weight went from 147 to 174.  I stayed physicaly active but was more complacent about my diet.

I had taken Paxil about 4-5 years prior (after having a panic attack) and gained about 30 lbs.  I immediately started losing the weight after taking the paxil and had no trouble getting back to my normal weight.

Like everyone else, my doctor initially told me that weight gain was not a side effect.  However, it is very apparent that there was a change in my metabolism.  I've been off the drug for about a month and now weigh 169 with no real change in diet/exercise.  

For me:    
PROS:  It really did help me with my GAD and getting through a stressful/difficult time.
CONS:  Weight gain, sexual side effects, very strange withdrawal symptoms.  

I would encourage everyone to stay off these medications, however I would not hesitate to take them again if my situation were to become extreme and my quality of life was significantly effected.

I would also encourage everyone not to beat themselves up over any of the side effects and to surround yourself with individuals who are going to encourage you rather than criticize.  (Especially your friends, family, spouses...etc....)

My doctor encouraged me not to be so hard on myself.  If she had fed into the idea that it was my fault I was gaining the weight, I probably would have digressed emotionally and would still be on the drug.  It can be a vicious cycle if you're not careful.  

Hope this helps someone....good luck to everyone!  
Avatar universal
I am 25 and very physically active, I was on Lexapro for 10 months and didn't notice the weight gain until the 10th month when my face looked bloated.  I am 5'6 and have always been a size 4 at 145lbs.  When I went to the gyno in august (2 months after weaning off) I was 165lbs.  I have never weight that much in my life.  My clothes were tight, my face was round, but I could still do all the activities I did with the same vigor as when I was 145.  Its now November and I'm down to 155 but the process is slow and frustrating as I train for my yearly 8k with better times than ever, but no body to match it.  Frustrated in NY, I hear you girls and I'm with all of you in heart.  I guess its either fat and happy or fat and...frustrated.  I know body image isn't everything but with an upbeat attitude and after a year of healing I'm ready for a body to match.  Best love to all*
Avatar universal
Like everyone here my story is that of weight gain.  I could go on and on about how doctors are turning a blind eye to the weight gain being caused from the medication and not from us but I wont as it would be very long and drawn out.  My story is like so......

I used to weigh 287 lbs.  I am 5'10" but this was VERY over weight for even me.  I changed my mind set one day and decided for my health (epilepsy among the obvious health issues) and my kids I would lose weight.  Not just diet but change my WHOLE life.  I did just that.  I educated myself on food and its reaction in the body.  Clean eating as opposed to weight watcher style eating (portion control). Exercise using weights in combination with cardio, etc.  I was well educated as I went out on my journey.  I lost 120 lbs in 19 months and never felt better!  My seizures went from once a month to nothing in 14 months!  I was educatedrt taking as well as fit.  I was getting ready to start taking classes to be a certified persnal trainer when I came down with depression.  I wasnt sad and withdrawn, I was angry and had not tollerance.  I didnt even know that was depression!!!  My doc gave me Lexapro 10 mg.   I told her I wouldnt take it because the sheet of side effects said weight gain.  She laughed and assured me that there was no weight gain that if one person had it in a trial period  they had to list it.  WRONG!!!  She knew how long I spent losing weight yet she gave it to me anyway.  Grrrrrrr!

Anyway, after 2 years of taking it and thinking that my weight gain had something to do with my muscle gain and the increase of protein I had gained 45 lbs.  I thought it was me doing something wrong for 2 years yet with all I had learned over the years I should have known better.  I am so upset over this!!!

I got off the Lexapro on Oct. 14th 2009.  I had lots of "brain zaps" with the withdrawl but feel better now.  After having my first seizure in over a year I told the doc I wasnt taking it anymore.  I have been off for almost a month yet my weight wont budge.  I know it takes time but my question is........

Is there anyone out there who has been off this drug for any length of time WITHOUT going on another drug that has a time frame of how long it takes before you start to see weight loss again??  I need to know this for my sanity!!  I have lost so much weight to gain back 45lbs of it and to boot, my seizures are coming back due to my weight gain.  

I just would love to know how long it took you to see real weight loss results....

Thank you for your help!!!

Leigh Ann
Avatar universal
I would trying these drug can harm you why don't you try out natural way to lose weight you can learn from this site http://www.get-the-body-you-want.com/ if you want..
Avatar universal
HOORAY! You are asking the same question I am! Very similar to you, I finally lost all my baby weight a year or so back. I am 5'10 and I finally got to 165lbs after being overweight for years. Economy stinks, my husband starts a company, money is tight, etc.....I start having panic attacks. After months of going back and forth I finally agreed with my doc to go on Lexapro 10mg. Felt good within a few weeks so I carried on with my 6 day a wk 5am runs and eating healthy.

I started the drug in April 09 and what do you know, by Oct 09 I'm back up to 186lbs, tight clothes, etc... I took a month to wean myself off and am feeling good about it. I weighed myself this morning and am now at 188lbs!!!!! I have read EVERYTHING on line and, like you, want to know that this weight will eventually make its way off me again. PLEASE, someone post a success story about losing the weight drug free! Could our metabolism be screwed up for life?
Avatar universal
I posted my story a couple of weeks ago above, and I too was very upset at how this happened, and although I found this website before going to my Dr, I KNEW the Lexapro was the cause of the weight gain.    I told my Dr that I gained 10-15 lbs in 2 months, and she immediately agreed to get off it, and her stats of 1 out of 25 will gain weight!  At least she was honest.

As for your question about metabolism, this is just my guess, based on all the posts on here, and trust me, I read almost every single one...  it seems like the longer period of time you are on the med, the longer it takes for your metabolism to adjust.

My experience over the past 3 weeks since being off Lexapro:

The bloating in the stomach and face went down after a week or so.  I started doing crunches like crazy for the past 2 weeks, and my stomach looks much better but all clothes are still tight.  

I have lost 3.5 lbs in 3 weeks since being off it, and that was with increased exercise (compared to almost nothing prior) and watching calories and seriously watching my sodium intake.  

I did not taper properly, and I ended up taking 5 mg earlier this week for withdrawl symptoms, and immediately the next day, I was hungry the entire day, and bloated up again.   A few days later now, and the excessive bloating went away again.
Avatar universal
Thanks for commenting. You've given me hope! I did taper down over a 5 wk period and it worked well. Of course I have had a couple strange zaps but all in all, I've kept myself together and I'm not looking back. I've made a decision to not weigh myself until Christmas Eve. I'm training for a 1/2 marathon in March, sticking to less then 1800 cals a day, so....if I haven't lost a pound by Christmas I'll be pissed. Keep me up to date with your progression, and I'll do the same. I want to know that the weight can come off drug free. Take care and good luck.
Avatar universal
I'm joining this forum as a way to track my side effects, hold myself accountable, and hopefully report weight loss.  I've been on Lexapro for the last 3 years for panic attacks and anxiety.  30 pounds later and somethings got to give.  I've never weighed this much, even when pregnant.  I tried once to wean myself off of lexapro, but felt I was so much of a better person with it.  Now, I've just got to try again.  Please, lift me up in your prayers.  God is the only one who can help me battle this.  
Avatar universal
I accidently came across this forum and have sat here for almost 2 hours reading and learning from each of you about Lexapro.  I was put on Lexapro approximatly 2 years ago and I have gained a substantial amount of weight.  To the point I am back to being depressed again.  I started Lipo-B two weeks ago and have lost 4lbs.  This with exersise and trying to watch what I eat, I am hopeing it will help me loose weight.  I am seriously thinking about weaning myself of Lexapro but I am scared not only of the side effects but also my mood changing back to where it was before taking the drug. I was not aware of the what antidepressants could do or what they could do when you tried to get off them.  I am greatful to all who have shared their insight and I am glad that I am not alone.  Thank You
Avatar universal
Isn't it amazing the things you read that others like us have also experienced?  You literally can spend hours reading all of the comments.  I'm like you.  I too am worried about how my mood will change once I wean myself off of Lexapro.  I was very irrational before.  I wished my doctor had adviced me about weight gain before began this medication.  
Please post when you start the weaning process.  I just started weaning for the 2nd time.  Tonight's half a pill.  I wish you the best of luck.  
Avatar universal
I took Lexapro for a couple months (see previous posts), tapered off in October, started mild dieting until mid December - the scale would not budge.  Since mid December, it's been a slow decline, and I had to really educate myself how to eat and exercise properly.

I have finally lost 10 lbs, but it took a ton of hard work, and 2 months of strict dieting and excessive exercise.  I'm not sure if it was more difficult to lose because of the Lexapro or because I'm a bit older now and haven't seriously dieted in my life.

My doctor keeps pushing me to go on Wellbutrin, and at this point, I just might give it a try.  I've been anxious and depressed for a while now.  I've heard many places that Wellbutrin may cause weight loss.

The question of whether to gain weight to treat the depression is a tough one.   For me, it was very difficult for me to look in the mirror for a long time.  I had been gaining a few pounds here and there, but the Lexapro sky-rocketed it up.  I had never been overweight in my life.  Right now, I am borderline overweight, BMI is very close to 25 now.

Any comments about Wellbutrin?

Avatar universal
thanx for your post - I've been off lexapro for about 2 1/2 weeks and my scale seems stuck. Glad I read your post so that I don't get my expectations up too high. I'm the heaviest I've ever been and that is what is depressing me now. Post back later and let me know how your weight loss is going. :)
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