Sertraline And Weight Gain: What You Need To Know
Medically reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP
Sertraline, sold under the brand name Zoloft®, is a widely used antidepressant that belongs to a class of medications called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs.
Like other antidepressants, SSRis including Zoloft , Celexa and others can cause certain side effects, including weight gain. In fact, some studies have shown that the more often you use them, the more weight you may gain.
Below, weve discussed the relationship between sertraline and weight gain, as well as what you can expect if youve been prescribed this medication.
Weve also explained what you can do to reduce your risk of gaining weight after you start using sertraline or other antidepressants.
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What Are Anxiety Disorders
Anxiety disorders are a familiar group of psychiatric disorders distinguished by fear and anxiety that does not decrease over some time. Anxiety contains nervousness, restlessness, and stress. An anxiety disorder creates emotional and physical distress, therefore, intruding on an individuals daily life.
When an anxiety disorder is left untreated, the symptoms could prevent social engagement, participation in daily activities, and harm the persons career. More than 18% of Americans are affected by a particular anxiety disorder.
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Antidepressants That Can Cause Weight Gain
Monoamine oxidase inhibitors
- MAOIs affect neurotransmitters that communicate between brain cells, preventing an enzyme called monoamine oxidase from removing the neurotransmitters norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine from the brain. This allows these neurotransmitters to remain in the brain for a longer time, thus elevating your mood.
- Weight gain is likely in the short term and long term .
- Examples of MAOIs include Marplan , Nardil , and Parnate .
- Tricyclic antidepressants help keep more serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain. These chemicals are made naturally by your body and are thought to affect your mood.
- Weight gain is likely both in the short term and long term.
SSRIs other than paroxetine
- SSRIs treat depression by increasing serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin is one of the neurotransmitters that carry signals between the brain nerve cells. SSRIs block the reabsorption of serotonin into the neurons.
- Weight gain in the short term is less likely. Long-term weight gain is possible, but evidence varies.
- Examples include Paxil, Zoloft, Celexa, and Prozac.
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Additional Treatments For Depression
In some cases, depression can have a medical cause, such as hypothyroidism, vitamin B12 deficiency, low testosterone, or side effects of medication. A healthcare provider can diagnose and treat these.
Unfortunately, most cases of depression arent caused by medical issues. For depression that doesnt have a medical cause, the main treatments are antidepressant medication and psychotherapy.
If Youre Exercising Get Into The Habit Of Eating A Snack Afterward
Eating post-workout is the only way to restore the energy you burned while working up a sweat. Skipping a snack or small meal may seem harmless, but it can lead to unpleasant side effects like lightheadedness and low blood sugar.
Burning more calories than youre consuming can also result in unexpected weight loss.
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Keep An Anxiety Journal By Your Bed
If your anxiety is keeping you up at night, try keeping a journal next to your bed. Every time you find yourself struggling with an anxious thought or feeling, write it down.
Getting your anxiety out of your head and onto paper can make it feel less pressing or immediate, which can help you let go of the anxiety and get to sleep.
Also, it can sometimes just feel good to vent. See it as the toilet paper for the massive poop your brain needs to take.
Why You Lose Weight
Stress and anxiety are commonly associated with weight gain, and for a good reason – during times of anxiety, the body releases heavy amounts of cortisol, which is a hormone that contributes to weight gain – especially around the midsection. Anxiety also causes further inactivity as people stop engaging in many activities, which can also increase weight gain.
Yet for various reasons, weight loss is also a problem that may occur with anxiety. There are several factors that cause this weight loss to occur:
It’s important to remember that anxiety itself makes you worry about things that shouldn’t necessarily be worried. Weight loss may also simply occur naturally. But if you were not suspecting to lose weight, this can cause significant health concerns. It’s simply the nature of anxiety to cause people to worry about their health.
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Is There A Treatment
Treating weight loss isn’t necessarily related to anxiety itself. You simply need to make sure you’re eating, talk to a doctor to rule out other symptoms, and keep exercising to ensure that you’re promoting good health. There is nothing you can do in the short term to regain weight that’s healthy for your body.
Anxiety can cause a lot of nervous movements, changes to diet, and other activities that may contribute to weight loss. Weight loss as a symptom is not typically something a person needs to address unless there are dietary issues, but because anxiety can be harmful to the body, it is still important to treat anxiety overall.
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Why Ssris Cause Weight Gain
Experts aren’t certain why SSRIs have the potential to cause weight gain, but there are some theories. It may be that the drugs trigger changes in metabolism that cause the body to use calories less efficiently, or that they affect the appetite, leading to overeating.
Another hypothesis is that weight gained while taking an SSRI may be partially due to the fact that some people don’t feel like eating when they’re depressed and may lose weight. Once they start taking an antidepressant, however, they begin to feel better and as a result, their appetite may come back, they eat may more, and eventually return to their previous weight.
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Which Antidepressants Cause Weight Gain
Though most antidepressants can cause weight gain as side effect, some antidepressants seem more likely to cause weight gain than others, including:
The effect of SSRIs on weight is mixed.
Despite the fact that many SSRIs cause weight loss during short-term treatment, other studies show that these drugs may cause long-term weight gain. The effects of these drugs will need continued study before we know more.
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Does Zoloft Cause Weight Loss
Antidepressants, including Zoloft, are most commonly associated with weight gain. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that Zoloft may actually be associated with weight loss in some situations.
One study found that patients who were taking Zoloft for depression and who were overweight lost anywhere from 0.42 pounds per week to 1.06 pounds per week one participant in the study lost a total of 69 pounds over 36 weeks.
However, Zoloft is typically associated with short term weight loss as compared to long term weight loss. Most people take Zoloft for an extended period of time in order to treat depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues, and over time, this weight loss can begin to slow. In fact, weight gain is a common side effect of Zoloft, particularly when the medication is taken over an extended period of time.
Compared to other antidepressants, Zoloft has actually been shown in some studies to be more likely to add extra pounds. When compared to patients who are taking Prozac, Zoloft users were found to gain an average of 5.9 pounds over the course of two years, which is higher than the amount of weight gained by patients taking Prozac.
Zoloft, like other medications in its class, is associated with a considerable list of side effects. Side effects associated with Zoloft generally fall into two categories: common adverse effects and rare but serious ones.
Common side effects associated with Zoloft include:
How To Prevent Weight Loss If Youre On An Antidepressant
Many antidepressants have been reported to cause weight gain rather than weight loss. You may initially lose weight with an SSRI medication, but that changes the longer you take it.
Also, as the medicine works to improve your symptoms, your appetite might increase and return to normal levels. This will help with weight maintenance.
If weight loss is a concern, talk to your doctor about the best ways to manage weight while on antidepressants. They can offer tips and strategies to maintain healthy weight through diet.
Stress, anxiety, and lack of sleep can also impact weight negatively. Cognitive behavioral therapy and improved self-care plans can help with managing these concerns.
You can also consider consulting a nutritionist about foods that might be helpful in gaining and keeping weight stable.
Antidepressant medications arent prescribed for weight loss for several reasons:
- theyre not approved for weight loss by the Food and Drug Administration
- they havent been proven to be
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Can Antidepressants Cause Weight Loss
Most antidepressant medications are more commonly associated with weight gain, but there are three that have been connected to weight loss:
Studies on the effect of fluoxetine on weight are varied, with only some people experiencing weight loss. And while it may cause weight loss in the short-term, but after six months or longer can lead to an increase in weight.
Similarly, the research on the impact of duloxetine on weight loss is unclear. Duloxetine can decrease appetite, which can lead to weight loss in some people.
However, research has yet to show a compelling and consistent connection between duloxetine and weight loss.
Of these three medications, bupropion is the most consistently associated with weight loss.
Several studies, including a 2019 meta-analysis of 27 studies, found that bupropion was the only commonly used antidepressant associated with weight loss.
In the analysis, all of the antidepressants caused an average increase in body weight of 5%, except for bupropion .
Bupropion , an atypical antidepressant, works by altering the brain chemicals norepinephrine and dopamine.
In addition to being the only antidepressant consistently associated with weight loss, its also associated with fewer rates of sexual side effects and sexual dysfunction than SSRIs and SNRIs.
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