Worst SSRI’s for weight gain

In response to the ongoing discussion about weight gain when taking Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) I have added this post as I recently read some information that I found interesting.

Many people who take SSRI’s for depression or anxiety suffer weight gain as a result. Indeed it is a common reason for people to prematurely break-off from otherwise beneficial treatment. But in truth, appearance is so key to modern life that it is no surprise that people who are already suffering from mood disorders don’t want to get fat. This could lead to more depression!
It is important to point out that when taking SSRI’s, weight gain can be mitigated against in more or less the same ways you would avoid gaining weight under normal circumstances. A good balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables and not too much saturated fat and sugars as found in junk food, and of course some exercise. You will also find that exercise helps with depression as this article shows. Seeings that you will have to talk to your doctor about the medication anyway, why not ask him or her to do a quick fitness assessment and check what level of exercise your body can take.

I was interested last week when I got an email from revolution health that linked to an article on their site about SSRI’s that are known to cause weight gain. It is one of the most common questions I am asked so I am always on the look out for new material.

The table below shows what the article said, but I disagree with much of it. I personally have taken Celexa and found that it caused weight gain to the tune of 10KG! The table also shows escitalopram to be likely to cause weight gain. This is odd because citalopram (Celexa) and escitalopram (Lexapro) are almost identical. In the article and American academic stated that weight gain might be a sign that the drugs were having an effect. The professionals I have spoken to disagreed with this and thought that the point of view was outdated. I am not qualified to pass judgement on this. I would say though that the best indicator of efficacy when using SSRI anti-depressants is that the patients mood lifts!

These common drugs are likely to cause some weight gain – but that doesn’t mean they definitely will!:

  • Paxil (paroxetine)
  • Marplan (isocarboxazid)
  • Lexapro (escitalopram)

According to the article on Revolution Health these drugs generally don’t cause weight gain (in my experience some definitely do!):

  • Prozac (fluoxetine)
  • Luvox (fluvoxamine)
  • Zoloft (sertraline)
  • Celexa (citalopram)
  • Wellbutrin (buproprion)

I would be interested to here of other people’s experiences with SSRI’s and weight gain. You can email me info@anxiety2calm.com or leave a reply on this blog!

Related Articles

Celexa – Tapering off and weight loss / gain

Tapering off anti-depressants like Celexa can be a miserable business. But you want to live your life without medication, so eventually you take the plunge and start to withdraw.

For me, a major benefit of coming off the drug was that I would lose the weight it had made me put on. I had tolerated the drug well, the only side effects were feeling very sleepy and yawning constantly. Not bad for someone with a history of insomnia.

The one major thing that bugged me is that I went to a about 10kgs over my normal weight after being on Celexa a few months. When I went onto Celexa at the height of a horrible depression I weighed 5kgs under my normal weight. So with the Celexa I had put on a whopping 15kgs.

Anyway, I thought I would lose it as I came off the drug, but things with SSRI’s are not so simple. Prior to coming off I embarked on an ambitious exercise and diet plan and lost a few kilos. But the plan was too drastic and I couldn’t stick to it.

As I started to taper my doses I began to get hungrier, craving large amounts of carbohydrates. I also felt quite lazy and the brain zaps and dizziness made exercising uncomfortable, especially in the afternoon and evening, when I had most spare time.

Even as the side effects passed and I could control my eating better, the weight did not start to lessen as I thought it might, just by my bodies metabolism getting back to normal.

To get rid of the pounds you put on while taking Celexa you need to work hard. I have discovered that I probably won’t go back to my heaviest, even if I really pig out. But I won’t lose much unless I exercise an hour a day and eat very sensibly. The problem is, I still crave carbohydrates!

What is true for me might not be the case for you, and you should get a thorough checkout before you start any drastic weight-loss. And remember, short term fad diets don’t work!

But remember, there is quite a lot that the drug companies don’t tell you, and quite a lot that your doctor won’t tell you either through ignorance or through loyalty to the drug reps that buy them dinner.

Other posts on SSRI’s that you might find interesting:

GSK Seroxat Suicide Link

Anxiety, Celexa and Weight Gain

Celexa, citalopram – a personal experience

Anxiety 2 Calm: Celexa, Effexor, know your drug!

Slow withdrawal from Citalopram (Cipramil / Celexa) with minimal side effects?

Slow withdrawal from Citalopram (Cipramil / Celexa) with minimal side effects?

I recently heard advice from doctors on several ways to come of SSRI’s and in particular Citalopram. Many people who suffer from anxiety or depression or both have been put on Citalopram and it has certainly benefited a great many people. Although SSRI’s are controversial, there is sufficient peer-reviewed evidence that they are effective in many patients, and I have personally benefited in my time. Relying on drugs and supplements might not be wise.

It is always important to remember a few things: Nothing works for everyone. Not everyone is suitable for SSRI’s, and you should always speak to your doctor and have them prescribed by a doctor. Do not be tempted to self-medicate using online pharmacies: they are more expensive and you need correct, impartial medical advice with this kind of medication.

Although some people stay on Celexa and other similar drugs for ever, almost everyone comes off them at some point. Ideally people come off at a time when they have dealt with the cause of their anxiety and depression to some extent be it through therapy or a change in life circumstances.

The big question always is: How do you come off Celexa?

The good news is that this type of drug is not addictive. Your body has no physical dependence and you are not likely to experience cravings as if you were giving up smoking. You are, on the other hand, likely to experience withdrawal symptoms as your body adjusts.

Unless specifically advised by a doctor you should never go cold turkey and stop taking your medication suddenly. The easiest way to come off is slowly and two main methods have been suggested.

Method one: Tapered withdrawal.

As the name suggests, you reduce your dose gradually, say a couple of milligrams at a time.

The pros are that this is most likely to be the smoothest transition with potentially only very minor side effects if you take it very slowly, over say a few months or more.

The cons are that tablets like Celexa are often only available in two sizes, so accurately reducing dose can be difficult. Other tablets come in liquid form and are much easier to measure.

Method Two

You lower your dosage on alternate days, taking say a full dose one day and a half dose the next.

Pros: I don’t see any

Cons: you could find your mood yo-yo’s.

Doctors often suggest the latter method, I must admit I don’t know why!


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.

Celexa, citalopram – a personal experience

Celexa, is the brand name of a drug called Citalopram Hydrobromide which is one of the most widely prescribed Selective Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) on the market. It is widely used to treat major depression, panic disorder, anxiety, and agoraphobia. You should remember that drugs are never a solution, just a crutch, and there are other non-drug approaches which can help in getting over anxiety.

I used this drug for some time, taking the standard dosage of 20mg a day. Occasionally larger doses are prescribed if 20mg are found to be insufficient, and often the elderly or inform are started on a lower dose of 10mg which is increased when tolerance has been established.

Side effects are what most people think about first when anti depressants are mentioned, there has been much made in the media about addiction and suicide. Celexa does have a good side effects profile, to you and me that means that the side effects are usually mild and short lived. And in terms of addiction the relative long half life of the drug (the amount of time it spends in your system) means that it is much easier to come off than drugs like Seroxat (Paroxetine Paxil, Seroxat, Deroxat). Side effects that I encountered included very short lived bouts of dizziness, lasting less than a few seconds, and a week long drop in libido. Within a week all side effects had effectively passed and I never had anything that made me want to stop taking the drug. I never really experienced nausea or a dry mouth, and my sleeping improved quickly. I would say that on the very first day of taking the drug I felt as weird as I have ever felt in my whole life. I felt a spacey depression that was most unusual and odd. I would describe it as absolute helplessness. It passed later that day when I applied some techniques that I had recently learnt. (more on that tomorrow)

Would I recommend Celexa?

Well, from a side effect standpoint I would have no qualms (although of course everyone one is different and some people can not tolerate Celexa).

The question is, does it work?

Well, I think that it stops the really dire lows and keeps you stable, but it is not a pep pill and it does not put you on cloud nine. Neither does it change your outlook on life or your major cognitions, so while it does make desensitization easier if for example you were agoraphobic, it won’t make problems disappear, or didn’t for me anyway. For that you do need to use therapy as well as drug treatment. Drugs are just symptomatic relief.

Please read the disclaimer.