Do Antidepressants Make You Lose Weight Or Gain?

Antidepressants increase neurotransmitters, including chemicals like noradrenaline and serotonin. These chemicals can improve your mood and emotion, alleviating depression. However, you may wonder if taking antidepressants may help you lose weight or if the results could be the opposite.

Woman taking antidepressant pills to lose weight

Do antidepressants make you lose weight or gain? You can expect to lose or gain weight when on antidepressants. These pills can either increase your appetite or reduce it, and those that suppress your desire to eat can lead to weight loss.

However, the effect is usually minimal, often negligible. It’s best to understand that gaining weight can be more probable when using antidepressants than losing it.

If you’re on antidepressants and don’t know how they impact your weight, this article will acquaint you with what you can expect.

What are Antidepressants?

Antidepressants are pills that help relieve depression and anxiety symptoms. They can trigger hormone production to improve your mood and excitement, balancing your emotions. Antidepressants can work temporarily or offer long-term effects depending on how you want them to relieve your depression and anxiety.

How do Antidepressants Work?

Antidepressants alter the brain’s hormonal balance, improving your mood. Taking these pills trigger hormonal releases and actions, influencing the balance of neurotransmitters, including norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine. These hormones typically regulate your mood and can cause depression when unbalanced.

Some common types of antidepressants include the following:

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) – Primarily, these hormones increase serotonin levels in the brain by suppressing its reabsorption. That improves your mood and minimizes depression symptoms, including feelings of hopelessness, sadness, and emptiness. Also, read Here: Do Appetite Suppressants work For Everyone?

  • Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs)

These antidepressants also impact your serotonin levels but may disrupt the norepinephrine balance. While they may help, they can induce some side effects, including weight gain.

  • Serotonin-Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs)

Primarily, these hormones increase serotonin levels in the brain by suppressing its reabsorption. That improves your mood and minimizes depression symptoms, including feelings of hopelessness, sadness, and emptiness.

  • Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs)

These antidepressants block the enzyme monoamine oxidase. The enzyme usually acts against neurotransmitters whose core functions are to help improve your mood, hence the need to inhibit it.

These antidepressants, despite all contributing to improving your mood, can cause possible side effects, including impacting your weight.

These pills exist in several types, helping relieve depression and anxiety differently. SSRIs are a unique variety that can suppress your appetite and cause weight loss. However, most antidepressants lead to weight gain as they spike your appetite tremendously.

Can Antidepressants Help You Lose Weight: What Are The Chances?

As mentioned, antidepressants have varied side effects, and not all types can cause weight loss. Most depressants contribute to weight gain, often resulting from an increased appetite. However, you can still lose weight while on antidepressants if you pick the varieties that facilitate it.

Please note that depressants’ weight loss impacts can be minimal, often insignificant. However, prolonged antidepressant use can result in significant weight loss. Also read , How Long Does Phentermine last in your system?

It’s not advisable to be on antidepressants for long, even if you aim to lose weight. Being on these pills for extended periods can indicate possibly deeper underlying psychiatric issues that you may have to act on. Instead, it’s best to consult your psychologist to help you.

How Can You Improve Your Chances of Losing Weight While on Antidepressants?

Dr. William Gilmer, an Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, claims that losing weight while on antidepressants can be quite a task. Moreover, he agrees that while on pills that potentially suppress your appetite and cause weight loss, you can still gain weight. Therefore, he offers a complementary solution that you can adopt to increase your chances of losing weight while on antidepressants:

  • Keeping a log of consumption

Noting down every food you eat in each meal can help you track your calorie intake while on antidepressants. Dr. Gilmer argues that even the so-called “no-fat” or “Low-fat” foods contain hidden calories and empty carbohydrates that cause weight gain, which you should be more aware of.

  • Exercising

Regular physical activity, such as cardio exercises (e.g., running, swimming, cycling) and strength training, can help burn some calories and promote weight loss. Exercise also contributes to improved overall health, increased metabolism, and enhanced mood.

  • Sleeping adequately

Sufficient and quality sleep is crucial for weight management. Lack of sleep can misbance hormones that regulate appetite and increase cravings for high-calorie foods. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night.

  • Avoiding alcoholic beverages

Alcoholic drinks can be high in calories and have little nutritional value. Reducing alcohol consumption can reduce calorie intake and aid in weight loss efforts.

  • Ditching soft and sugary drinks

Sugar-sweetened beverages like sodas, energy drinks, and sweetened juices can contribute to weight gain as a result of high sugar content. Opt for water, herbal teas, or other low-calorie drinks instead.

  • Eating a healthful breakfast

A nutritious breakfast can kickstart your metabolism and help you avoid overeating later in the day. Choose balanced options like whole-grain cereals, fruits, yogurt, or eggs.

  • Avoiding evening snacks and heavy meals

Eating late at night or consuming large meals close to bedtime can lead to weight gain. Try to have your last meal at least 2-3 hours before sleeping.

Increasing protein intake – Protein-rich foods can help you feel full and satisfied, reducing the likelihood of overeating. Incorporate lean protein sources, like poultry, fish, tofu, legumes, and nuts, into your meals.

  • Eating more frequently and in smaller amounts

Eating measured, more frequent meals throughout the day can help stabilize blood sugar levels and prevent excessive hunger, which can lead to overeating.

Incorporating these weight loss habits while on medication may help you lose weight instead of gaining it.

Are Antidepressants a Safe Option for Weight Loss?

Losing weight while taking antidepressants can be medically okay, but it’s essential to approach weight loss safely and monitor it. It’s common for some individuals to experience weight changes, including weight loss while using certain antidepressant medications. As previously mentioned, the antidepressant bupropion (Wellbutrin) is more commonly associated with appetite suppression and weight loss.

However, weight changes with antidepressants can vary widely among individuals, and not everyone will experience weight loss. Some antidepressants, such as specific SSRIs, may even lead to weight gain in some people. Read Here: Cheating On your Diet And Still Lose Weight

If you are experiencing weight loss while taking antidepressants, it’s crucial to communicate with your healthcare provider. They can monitor your weight loss progress and ensure it is within a healthy and safe range. Significant or rapid weight loss may indicate other underlying issues that need attention.

Essential Considerations When Losing Weight While Taking Medications

It’s always advisable to approach weight loss with antidepressants wisely while well-informed. Remember, health practitioners don’t recommend depending on antidepressants for weight loss. Therefore, while you can opt for this option, it’s best to consider the following:

Medical supervision – Always keep your healthcare provider informed about any changes in weight or significant appetite changes. They can assess whether the weight loss is medically appropriate and adjust your treatment plan.

  • A balanced approach

Aim for a balanced and healthy weight loss approach that combines regular physical activity, proper nutrition, and adequate sleep. Avoid extreme dieting or excessive exercise, as these can be harmful, especially when combined with medication.

  • Monitor the side effects

Be aware of any side effects related to weight loss or appetite suppression. If you experience any concerning symptoms, discuss them with your healthcare provider.

  • Individual response

Antidepressants affect people differently, so not everyone will experience weight changes while taking these medications. Your response to a particular antidepressant may be unique, so finding a treatment plan that works best for you is essential.


While you can lose weight on antidepressants, it’s not a dependable option. The results are usually marginal; only some selected types can guarantee that. Weight loss while on depressants may typically happen due to appetite suppression. However, you can opt for other ways to drop extra pounds, including exercising and calorie deficit. If, by any chance, antidepressants cause some weight gain, Dr. Gilmer recommends consulting with a healthcare provider to assess the possibility of thyroid abnormalities.

Medical Discalimer: The information provided here On Geeks Health website is for general informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you have or suspect a medical problem, promptly contact your healthcare provider. Reliance on any information in this response is solely at your own risk.
Jennifer Singleton
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