Celexa and weight gain

Celexa (citalopram) is one of the most widely prescribed drugs for anxiety disorders and panic attacks. Like most SSRIs (Selective Serotonin re-uptake inhibitors) it is not uncommon to experience side effects. In most cases these are mild and harmless, and pass within the first few weeks of treatment. For others they are unbearable and lead the patient to terminate his/her treatment. Side effects then pass after the medication leaves your system. Relying on drugs might not be wise.

There is one side effect that seems to linger. Weight gain. Not everyone who takes Celexa for an Anxiety disorder puts on weight but a sizeable number of people do. The amounts very, but weight increases of 25 pounds are not at all unheard of.


Why does Celexa cause weight gain? Well, there are many possible reasons. Perhaps it’s because it alters your body’s metabolism and you burn calories more slowly. Perhaps because it increases your cravings for carbohydrates (some people have definitely reported this). Maybe it’s because when you feel less anxious and relax more you are prone to exercise less, and tense your muscles less. Many people report feeling tired and lethargic on this kind of drug.

The final possibility is that food cravings are an underlying part of the problem, the reason you were prescribed the drug in the first place. Perhaps you are using a sugar hit to escape. If that is the case then you have uncovered a layer of your problem and now it’s time to set to work on it!

If you have gained weight, try to gently moderate your diet and start an exercise regime after clearing it with your doctor. Quite simply burning more calories and consuming less will lead to weight loss. And what’s more, exercise is a great natural remedy for anxiety and depression!


For more info on drugs, look at anxiety 2 calm’s drugs page.

16 Replies to “Celexa and weight gain”

  1. I’ve taken Celexa (citalopram) for anxiety/depression for 2 years and have gained about 30 pounds.

    The underlying issues which caused my anxiety/depression (being abandoned with 3 small children, trying to make a living for me and them) also made it almost impossible to take exercise and look after myself.

    I’m now getting better and am reducing dose and the weight is slowly going. It’s hard work through, and made easier by a better job, and my kids being older and out at school all day.

    Advice on healthy diet and exercise tends to assume an ‘ideal world’ whereas many women I know who are depressed are also trapped in debt, long working hours, uncongenial living conditions and have little access to cheap childcare. I understand why physicians give the advice, but they must surely understand how difficult such advice can be to follow.

  2. I am in exactly the same situation, I was left with 3 small children and my world fell apart. However with help from my gp, I was also taking citalopram and sinequin, and I put on about 70 pounds in a year. However my gp was not prepared to see that there was a link. I reduced my medication after 2 years and the weight started to drop off within weeks and in the space of 6 months I lost 28 pounds.

    However now I am concerned that after all that hard work, I have had to go back on them and that I will instantly balloon again. But now I know that the affect weight gain I will try really hard to monitor my food intake.

  3. HI I TOO HAVE BEEN ON CITALOPRAM FOR NEARLY A YEAR AND HAVVE GAINED NEARLY 2 STONE, I HAVE NO APPETITE AT ALL, HARDLY EAT A THING AND CONTINUING TO GAIN WEIGHT. WHEN I SPOKE TO MY DOCTOR, I WAS TOLD IT WAS MY LIFE STYLE….what lifestyle.. i have severe panic disorder/agrophobia aand severe depression, so i wouldnt actually say i have a lifestyle. These tablets do really help, they do make me feel better but the wight gain makes me depressed…. get the picture, i cant win. im at the point now, that i want to reduce the meds and see how i cope, maybe even loose some of the weight gain. I can only try. i am in total favour of this medication and it really does work but with the weight gain. you have to make your own choice. like i have recently read ……..fay and happy… slim and sad…… good luck

  4. Hello, I have been taking 30mg of Citalopram for over a year now and have put on 2 stone. It also makes me extremely tired and lethargic. It has, however, lifted my depression and I have not had a panic attack since taking it. I plan to come off the drug in the new year (under medical supervision) and what I would like to know is how soon after stopping it, does my system go back to normal? I eat very little amounts, exercise moderately and my weight seems to have stabilised at 2 stones over my ideal- any ideas?

  5. I have gained 36 pounds in the 2 years I have been taking citralopam…its not very good but better than constant gnawing anxiety.Iam going to try to lose some in the NY-by giving up the junk food I craved when i first started taking it..incidentally,I recently decreased my dose and lost some weight butt todayb had to go back up as I just felt so awful on 20mg and so much better on 40mg…I do sleep an awful lot though!!

  6. I have been on Prozac, lexapro,paxil (made me yawn all day) and zolft and they all made me gain weight. My depression is getting really bad that I thought about suicide. I am afraid to go on any medicine because I dont let me rephrase that I CANT gain any weight. The way I feel about myself has really played a big part in my depression. I cant stand to look at myself in the mirror. I won’t go to a doctor because I am afraid they will prescribe more anti-depressants and I will gain weight. I am going crazy please help.

  7. I’ve been on citalopram for 8 years OMG! I have put on weight big time, it makes you need food, not because you’re tummys rumbling and you’re hungry, you just need to eat. I now don’t take any drugs at all but I’m on that slippery slope and am now looking at my options. Is there an SSRI that doesn’t make you need food and gain weight? Nicole, I’m with you, I too can’t stand to look in the mirror and at home we don’t have any full length ones! If we did I don’t think I’d ever go out.

  8. I have been taking Citalopram for a year and it has only taken the edge of my obsessional thoughts but has given me a voracious appetite and I have gained two stones. I worked really hard for a year in the gym to lose three stones prior to Citalopram and now despite a healthy diet and exercise I am watching the scales creep up on a weekly basis. It is soul destroying because it has made my self esteem sink lower. I am now over weight and uncomfortable so have stopped the meds…weight gain at that rate is not good for my head or my joints. I am hoping to get a prescrition for the gym and swimming pool so I can go and shift all this weight if they are available in my area.
    As for the original problems…phew. Who knows?

  9. I am 23 years old and I have been taking citalopram for 7 months. I’ve gained 25-30 lbs and have lost over half of my hair because of citalopram. I have had severe anxiety my whole young life. I’ve tried every other method to lessen my anxiety, but nothing worked so I finally looked to my doctor to prescribe something. Citalopram has worked wonders for me. I no longer get sick on a constant basis, have physical pain (due to anxiety), and I no longer have obsessive thoughts. With a little bit of work on my part my life has completely changed for the better. I was originally prescribed 40 mg, but I decided to only take 20 mg. However, I started noticing many symptoms reappearing again all of a sudden so, I switched to 40 mg a few weeks ago, and I feel much better. BUT, I AM SO TORN. The weight gain put somewhat of a damper on things for me. I too consistently gained weight every week even though I am very conscious of what I eat (calories, fat, carbs, etc.). About two months ago I started exercising daily and dieting even more strictly. It has stopped the weight gain, but I have not even lost a pound. I’ve learned that I can perhaps cope with that. Its the significant hair loss that I cannot get over. I read yesterday that it is a known side effect of citalopram. They suggested that taking Centrum Silver could possibly reverse the effects otherwise, going off the meds is the other option. I’m going to try the Centrum Silver, but if it doesn’t work I’m unsure of what to do. I don’t want to switch meds because it does work for me, and I fear gaining even more weight. However, I can not afford to lose any more hair. Any suggestions???

  10. Your anxiety and depression has shifted to your weight gain and losing your hair. Neither is good for your selfesteem.
    I suggest you ask your doctor for a different anxiety med. There are lots of them out there.

  11. I’ve been on Celexa for 2 1/2 years, started at 20mg, then 40mg, then 60mg back to 40mg and tried 20mg for about two months in the summer lost a little weight and had a little more energy but then school started and work got busy and everything went to hell in a hen basket. Was sleeping everywhere, started feeling worthless and disorganised. Went back to 40mg. By the way thanks for the comments about hair loss. I thought I was missing something in my diet. Well gained about 35lbs total seems to be all in my waist line (the one I used to have) Doctors said that I would probably be on these friggin pills for the rest of my life. I’m turning 50 next June and the last thing I want to be is fat, bald and a drug addict. I used to be the energizer Bunny and not skinny but average, now I can move around that fast because I can hardly breath moving all this weight. I only gained 20lbs when I was pregnant with my two kids, 35lbs is a little much. Does anyone know what drug I can take that doesn’t make you fat and bald. I’m not a big eater, so that is not the problem. Some days I only eat 1 meal.

  12. Dear Debbie i read your story now i am 18 and my weight is 43 kg and my height is 173 cm
    i want to gain weight ,So what you gone to suggest me
    Celexa make problem in future with sex type causes
    So i need your help

  13. I weighted 100 lbs. all of my life. Within a short period of time on Celexa, I gained 40 lbs. I constantly craved carbs. Late night cookies and milk were my fav. I just got off of the Celexa and am taking Wellbutrin (300 mg.) Side effects suck right now, but hopefully, will go away. This medicine is supposed to help lose weight and treat the depression. I will keep everyone posted on my progress…it has only been 4 days.

  14. I have been on Celexa for the past 3 years. I have gained 35-40 lbs and I am miserable. The celexa works for my anxiety attacks and depression but now I’m depresed because of the weight gain. All of this weight is in the mid-section and I feel bloated all the time.

    Please if there is someone who knows something better, please help. I think I’d rather weigh less and be depressed. LOL. There has to be another solution.

  15. 2nd day on celexa i noticed i wasn’t angry surprising so calm at peace focused so far Fab

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