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Do Anxiety Meds Cause Weight Loss

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Anxiety Medications and Weight Loss

Anxiety and depression are among the most under-reported and under-treated diseases in America. Nearly 20% of adults in the US suffer from mental health illness and fewer than half receive treatment. Our mission is to increase access to treatment for those suffering in silence.

You can start controlling your anxiety and depression and get access to the treatment you need with K Health. Starting at $12/month get prescriptions for mental health medications plus unlimited doctor visits through the K Health app. Start your free assessment to see if youre eligible.

K Health articles are all written and reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, or PharmDs and are for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute and should not be relied on for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.

Fight Or Flight Burns Calories

When your brain senses danger, it tells your adrenal glands to release epinephrine . Adrenaline gets your body ready to deal with a threat: it speeds up your heart rate and breathing to send more oxygen to your cells and increases your muscle tension so youre ready to fight the threat or run away from it.

This process is called your fight or flight response. It worked well for our ancestors its great if youre running from a tiger but today, most of us deal with less immediate, more long-term psychological stressors . Your brain still interprets these stressors as threats, so if youre chronically stressed, your body stays in a low-level state of fight or flight.

Faster heart rate and breathing, muscle tension, nervous movement, and other symptoms of chronic stress can burn calories over time, causing you to lose weight. The change is more significant than you might think, too fidgeting while sitting increases energy expenditure by 20-30%, and some studies even suggest that fidgeting protects against obesity.

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How To Avoid Weight Gain From Sertraline

While some weight gain from sertraline might be unavoidable, there are several steps that you can take to minimize the amount of weight you gain while using your medication:

  • Weigh yourself before you start. Make sure you know how much you weigh before you start using sertraline. This will make it easier to track any changes in your weight that occur while youre taking this medication. Try to weigh yourself in the morning — ideally after you go to the bathroom and before you eat — for the most accurate reading.

  • Maintain your normal eating habits. Sertraline may affect your appetite, causing you to feel less satisfied by food than normal. To minimize weight gain, try to maintain your previous eating habits, such as food choices, portion sizes and meal timing.

  • Stay active. If you currently exercise, its best to continue exercising as you normally would after you start treatment with sertraline unless your healthcare provider advises you not to. In addition to regulating your weight, exercise is associated with improvements in some depression and anxiety symptoms.

Although SSRIs like sertraline have a reputation for causing weight gain, the right combination of habits and careful monitoring can help you to maintain your weight on antidepressants.

How To Prevent Weight Loss Due To Antidepressants


When taken as directed, antidepressants can be effective in treating both depression and anxiety.

If you lose an excessive amount of weight after starting an antidepressant, talk to your doctor about the medications benefits and side effects.

If the benefits dont outweigh the weight loss side effects, you can also ask if adjusting the doseor switching medicationsmight be helpful. Discuss the pros and cons with your doctor before making such a decision.

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Beta Blockers And Weight Gain

On the other hand, another common blood pressure medication, beta-adrenergic blocking agents also called beta blockers can trigger weight gain all on their own, says Mayo Clinic.

This class of drug helps to lower blood pressure by blocking the effects of the hormone epinephrine . In doing so, these drugs which include brands such as Sectral, Tenormin, Zebeta, Lopressor, Corgard, Bystolic and Inderal open up the veins and arteries to improve blood flow, Mayo clinic adds. They help the heart beat more slowly and with less force, leading to a drop in blood pressure.

Mayo Clinic experts note that these drugs can cause heart-unfriendly triglyceride fat levels to rise. Though the rise is usually modest and temporary, Mayo Clinic warns that higher triglyceride levels can lead to arterial hardening and thickening, which increases the risk for cardiovascular disease.

What’s more, beta blockers are known to trigger weight gain, alongside fatigue and cold hands and feet.

Older types of beta blockers, such as Tenormin and Lopressor, are particularly problematic in that regard, Mayo Clinic notes. Typically, these medications will cause an average gain of about 2.6 pounds.

The good news is that older beta blockers are usually prescribed only when other medications fail to help lower blood pressure. Newer beta blockers such as Coreg are less likely to cause weight gain.

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Antidepressants And Weight Gain: What Happens And Why

Why do you gain weight with antidepressants and mood stabilizers?

Although there are a number of theories as to why antidepressants lead to weight gain, Sussman believes that both appetite and metabolism may be affected.

“I have had patients who swear that they are not eating any more, but still gaining weight, so that tells us there is some kind of metabolic influence going on I have also had patients tell me that they are not only more hungry and eating more, but that the medicines are encouraging a carbohydrate craving that is hard to control, so we know appetite also plays a role,” he says.

Fincham says antidepressants may also simply help us to rediscover pleasure in our life — including food.

“It might be a situation where someone feels so much better when taking an antidepressant that lots of things suddenly start feeling more pleasurable to them, and food is just one of them. So in this instance they may actually be overeating and not even realize they are doing so, says Fincham.

Findings from a group of Italian researchers published in the journal Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics suggest that the simple act of recovery from depression may play a role in the weight gain.

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Anxiety Can Mess With Your Sleep Which Has Links To Weight Gain

Getting plenty of high quality sleep is essential for managing your weight.

A small 2010 study found that participants lost less body fat and more lean mass when they slept for 5.5 hours rather than 8.5 hours. Those who slept for less time also reported feeling more peckish during their waking hours.

But for those who have an anxiety disorder, catching enough Zzzs can be a real challenge.

Anxiety can cause disrupted sleep and, in turn, increased fatigue. Both of these things can cause you to crave unhealthy foods, burn fewer calories, and decrease your willpower to avoid unhealthy food, says Sari Chait, PhD, a clinical psychologist based in Newton, Massachusetts.

When you dont get enough sleep, not only are your defenses down , but sleep deprivation also throws your bodys hunger system for a loop.

One research review found that participants who got less sleep produced more ghrelin than participants who slept a full 8 hours.

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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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Does Anxiety Medication Make You Lose Weight ...

There are numerous medications to assist with anxiety disorders. Two anxiety medications that cause weight gain are tricyclic antidepressants and atypical antidepressants. The anxiety medications that result in weight loss are SSRIs also known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and SRNIs also known as serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors. The issue is the two medications biggest side effect is nausea which results in loss of appetite, therefore, resulting in weight loss.

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Anxiety Can Make It Harder To Make Healthy Food Choices

It can sometimes be difficult to focus on whats best for you when your brain and body are screaming at you about everything under the sun.

People with anxiety may have a hard time making decisions about what to eat, resulting in them eating more unhealthy food, Chait says.

Its also much easier to lose track of what youre eating when youre feeling anxious. That distracted eating can add up to extra pounds.

Similarly, anxiety can cause people to be distracted, which may cause them to eat aimlessly, paying less attention to what theyre eating or how much theyre eating, Chait says.

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