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Does Viibryd Cause Weight Loss or Gain? Individual Causes & Factors.

Viibryd (Vilazodone) is a drug that was developed by Merck for the treatment of clinical depression. It was approved in the United States as an antidepressant medication in 2011. It functions as an atypical serotonergic antidepressant. Although some consider it to be similar to SSRIs, it differs in that it is unlikely to cause significant weight gain or sexual dysfunction.

While it does inhibit the reuptake of the neurotransmitter serotonin, it also acts as a partial agonist of the 5-HT1A receptor. It is believed that its agonism effect is responsible for minimizing unwanted side effects. Despite its more favorable side effect profile, it is unknown as to whether this drug is any more effective than current medications on the market.

Does Viibryd Cause Weight Loss or Weight Gain?

Many people that take Viibryd notice that their weight changes throughout treatment. Some people may lose weight during the first few months of treatment as a result of side effects like diarrhea or an appetite decrease. Others may notice that they gain a few pounds early in treatment, but their weight stabilizes. In an open-label 1 year study, it was found that the average amount of weight gained on this drug was slightly less than 4 lbs. (~3.75 lbs.).

On average, most people consider it to be a “weight neutral” drug in that it does not typically affect weight throughout treatment.  That said, it is important to acknowledge the fact that there are always outliers or individuals that do experience significant weight loss and gain contrary to the majority.

  • Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3369713/

How Viibryd Causes Weight Loss

Those that experience weight loss from the drug generally do so within the first 6 months of treatment. Those that are on the drug for a longer term actually are more likely to gain a few pounds. Viibryd is believed to cause weight loss initially as a result of its laxative effects (e.g. diarrhea) and increased energy.

  • Appetite decrease: Many people that take Viibryd may notice that their appetite decreases after they begin treatment. Anytime a drug decreases your appetite, there’s a good chance you’ll consume less calories and ultimately weight loss will ensue. It should also be mentioned that people who were coping with their depression by overeating (prior to taking Viibryd) may now feel less of an urge to eat as a means of coping. This leads to the person losing the weight that they may have packed on as a result of their depression.
  • Diarrhea: A significant number of people report experiencing diarrhea in the early stages of treatment. It takes awhile before the body adapts to the drug and diarrhea stops. Most physicians will recommend taking Imodium with Viibryd to help offset any laxative effects. If you notice laxative effects resulting from this medication, you’re probably going to lose some weight until they subside.
  • Increased energy: For some people, this drug has an activating effect, making them more energetic than they were prior to taking it. If you notice that you’ve become more energetic, you’re probably more likely to engage in physical activity or move around more than when you were depressed. When energy levels increase, exercise becomes easier and not as much of a chore.
  • Metabolism increase: Some people believe that their metabolism increases or stays neutral while taking this drug. If the drug boosts your energy and you start moving around more, the fact that you’re moving more will increase your metabolism. If the weight starts dropping and you aren’t doing anything different in terms of diet and/or exercise, it could be that the drug sped up your metabolism.
  • Nausea: If you feel nauseous as a side effect of this drug, eating may be somewhat difficult. The nausea alone makes it difficult to force down food even when you haven’t eaten. As long as this side effect persists, it’s going to be tough to get adequate calories. If you aren’t eating an adequate amount of calories, you’re going to lose weight. Fortunately most people notice this side effect eventually subsides.
  • Partial 5-HT1A agonist: The drug acts as a partial agonist at the 5-HT1A receptor, meaning it partially activates this receptor to produce an effect. It is believed that activation of this receptor is capable of offsetting weight gain that a person would experience if the drug solely functioned as a serotonin reuptake inhibitor. Among drugs that act as an agonist at this same receptor, weight gain is less common.
  • Vomiting: This is a side effect that some people experience that goes hand-in-hand with nausea. Some people experience nausea and actually vomit as a result. This is more common in the early stages of treatment when the nervous system is trying to adapt to the drug. If you end up vomiting frequently, you’re going to lose weight until it stops.

Note: It is unknown specifically what causes some people to lose weight while on Viibryd. However, most speculate that it is a combination of factors that are subject to individual variation.

How Viibryd Causes Weight Gain

Understand that most people do not notice any significant weight gain while taking this drug. If you do gain weight, it could be due to a variety of factors including: appetite increase, food cravings, metabolic changes, and social dining. Understand that the factors contributing to weight gain are highly based on the individual.

  • Appetite increase: Some people notice that their appetite increases after they start taking Viibryd. An increased appetite typically leads to eating more foods (possibly unhealthy foods) and ultimately weight gain. Individuals that lost weight as a result of poor appetite stemming from depression are likely to gain weight back during treatment as a result of appetite increasing.
  • Fat storage: Some believe that any drug inhibiting the reuptake of serotonin is capable of altering the way the body stores fat. If you notice that your body starts to store fat in places that it hadn’t prior to taking the drug, it could be a result of the medication. When the body stores more fat or fails to metabolize enough of it, you’re going to gain weight.
  • Food cravings: Another theory is that serotonergic drugs are capable of causing us to crave foods. If you notice that you crave foods, specifically carbohydrates (e.g. pizzas, pastas, etc.) and other sugary junk foods, there’s a chance this is from the drug. Compare your food cravings prior to taking Viibryd with how you feel now that you are taking it. Some people are able to notice a clear difference in the foods that they’re drawn to eating.
  • Hormone levels: Over a longer term treatment, there’s a possibility that this drug is affecting hormone levels. Regardless of what hormones the drug is affecting, this is a disruption in your body’s natural state of functioning. Any disruption in hormone levels could cause a person to gain more weight than usual.
  • Improved taste: Some people notice that their taste is dull and the flavor of most foods is relatively bland when they are depressed. When they are properly treated for their depression, their taste experiences a noticeable improvement. This marked improvement in taste could lead some people to eat larger portions of food.
  • Interaction effects: Never rule out the possibility that Viibryd may be interacting with another medication to cause weight gain. Although Viibryd is unlikely to cause weight gain as a standalone treatment, augmenting it with another medication may be an entirely different story. All interaction effects among medications aren’t well documented and are highly subject to individual variation.
  • Metabolism decrease: If you gain weight, the drug may have actually decreased the speed of your metabolism. Typically a major decrease in metabolism will not occur over the short-term. However, people that have been on the drug for a longer duration could notice subtle weight gain despite the fact that they’ve been eating the same amount of food.
  • Side effects: Not everyone experiences increased energy while taking this drug. Others may feel tired, groggy, or weak – making it difficult to exercise. If the drug is making you feel more sluggish or lazy than usual, your metabolism is probably going to decrease and you will naturally burn less calories than if you were active.
  • Social eating: Going out to eat with friends may become a routine among those that feel happier and less depressed. The only problem with social eating is that it is typically a major contributor to weight gain. If you find yourself going out to eat with co-workers, friends, etc. more than you did in the past, understand that this could be responsible for your weight gain.

Factors that influence weight changes on Viibryd

Regardless of whether you lose or gain weight while taking Viibryd, there are important additional factors that may be contributing. These factors typically include things like: the dosage you’re taking, your lifestyle and personal habits, how long you’ve been on the drug, as well as other medications that you’re taking.

1. Dosage

Most people are taking a dose anywhere from 10 mg to 40 mg. While the recommended dose is 40 mg, there are people that end up taking less due to a superior therapeutic effect. Others may end up taking more than 40 mg if this protocol is recommended by a physician. In any event, taking the minimal effective dose of this drug (and any drug) is a good way to minimize weight change while medicated.

The more you increase your dosage, the more you are disrupting your body’s homeostatic functioning. At higher doses, the drug has more control over your brain and nervous system, essentially rendering you helpless to the effects of the drug. At lower doses, there is less disruption within your homeostatic functioning, thus leading to less weight change.

2. Individual factors

Before blaming the drug for any weight changes you experience, it is important to consider individual factors that could contribute to weight change. Something as simple as not getting enough sleep could raise cortisol levels and thus storage of body-fat. Be sure to evaluate your sleep habits, dietary intake, the amount of exercise that you’re getting, your stress level, etc.

Understand that many lifestyle factors that you have direct control over can lead to weight gain or loss. Also know that genetics likely play a significant role in determining how you’re going to react to Viibryd. For this reason, it is recommended to consider the “GeneSight test” which examines your genetics and predicts which antidepressants will work best for you.

3. Time span

The duration over which you take this drug will influence the amount of weight you gain. Those that only take the drug for months are only likely to experience dramatic shifts in weight as the body adjusts to the medication. After the body has adjusted, weight typically stabilizes and people tend to remain weight neutral or gain small amounts of weight.

Realize that over time, you will eventually develop a tolerance to the drug and may need to bump up the dosage – leading to greater likelihood of a weight change. Due to lack of long-term studies, it is unknown how much a person’s weight will change if they are on this treatment for an extended term (i.e. several years).

4. Other medications/drugs

If you take any other medications and/or drugs, consider that they may be contributing to weight changes. Realize that drugs with stimulating properties are more likely to suppress appetite and speed up the metabolism, while sedating medications are more likely to increase appetite and slow the metabolism.

If you are taking another drug with Viibryd and you suspect that it may be responsible for your weight change, be sure to talk to a doctor to clarify this assumption. Also understand that there’s a possibility for an interaction effect between the Viibryd and the other drug, which could amplify any weight changes you experience.

Why Viibryd is considered a “weight neutral” antidepressant

In clinical trials, there were no significant weight changes among those treated with this antidepressant. Does this mean that everyone will experience no weight gain or loss during treatment? No, what it means is that on average, most people maintain the same weight throughout treatment as they were pre-treatment.

In studies spanning less than a year, there was no reported weight gain among those taking Viibryd. Other data reveals that those taking Pristiq for longer than a full year are likely to gain some weight, but the amount of weight gained is relatively insignificant – especially when compared to other medications. Therefore, most doctors will recommend this antidepressant for people who are reluctant to try medication for fear of weight gain.

How much weight will you lose/gain from Viibryd?

There’s no telling exactly how much weight you stand to lose or gain from taking Viibryd. Some people lose a significant amount of weight throughout their treatment, even over longer terms. Others notice minor fluctuations in weight throughout their treatment, but nothing significant enough to report. Despite weight gain being highly unlikely on this drug over the short term (occurring in less than 1% of cases throughout 8-weeks), there is a need for longer term data. On average, those that gain weight are only likely to gain 3.75 lbs. after 12 months of treatment.

Viibryd: Comparing weight changes with therapeutic effects

Assuming you dislike the weight gain (or loss) associated with Viibryd, it is important to compare these weight changes with its therapeutic effects. If you didn’t gain much weight and feel significantly less depressed than you did before you took it, it’s probably safe to say that the benefits significantly outweighed the side effects.

On the other hand, if you gained (or lost) a bunch of weight and the drug isn’t noticeably improving your depression, it may be worth pursuing a different treatment (or considering Viibryd withdrawal). Always take the time to compare the benefits with the drawbacks so that you’re able to objectively evaluate how you respond to this particular drug.

Did you notice weight changes while taking Viibryd?

If you noticed any weight loss or weight gain while taking Viibryd, be sure to share your experience in the comments section below. Understand that not everyone is going to have the same experience as you; the reaction you have to this drug will be largely individualized. To better understand your situation, it would be beneficial to discuss: the dosage you were taking, how long you had been taking Viibryd, and any other factors you can think of that may have contributed to your weight change.

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{ 18 comments… add one }
  • beth April 18, 2015, 11:39 pm

    I had weight gain of 20+ pounds while doing cardio and intense weight training at least 4 times a week in about a 4 month period. I ate very healthy but it did not prevent the gain. I felt better emotionally until I had to buy pants 2-3 sizes larger all of a sudden, so I switched medicines. I made the mistake of not weaning off while taking the new medicine, so the first day I was in a state of psychosis. Withdrawal was terrible. I’ve lost all the weight I gained in 4 months of minimal exercise. If you don’t gain weight, it is worth staying on. It was a miracle medicine until all of that weight.

  • Ling June 21, 2015, 5:01 am

    I’ve experienced at least 15 pounds of weight gain while I’ve been on viibryd over the past year. It works well for depression and a little bit for anxiety. The itching, nausea and insomnia are bad all throughout my time on viibryd. The rapid and increasing weight gain and cellulite isn’t worth it. No dieting or exercise makes a difference.

  • Sandy June 29, 2015, 3:54 pm

    I had been taking Lexapro for years and it stopped working. I have always had weigh issues so it was imperative that I not gain any more weight. My doc started me on Effexor but I had a hard time with some of the side effects. I did gain about 5 pounds on that but it didn’t really seem to help with my energy level. My doc then suggested Viibryd since it reportedly doesn’t have the side effects that the others do.

    I am in my second week (20 mg) and since I have started taking Viibryd I have become RAVENOUSLY hungry. Even after eating a meal I’m still hungry – and when I say hungry I mean cramping in my stomach until I eat…and my blood sugar keeps dropping unless I eat. I have gained 3 pounds so far in two weeks so I don’t think I’m going to continue this med. I can’t take the constant hunger. It is really a shame because I am actually feeling wonderful on this med.

    • sandy August 12, 2015, 2:00 pm

      Reply to Sandy: After reading your comment on Viibryd I felt compelled to reply. I too was recently switched to Viibryd from Effexor. After the first week (10 mg) and into the second week (20 mg), I also experienced ravenous hunger and the blood sugar dives until I ate. I gained about 4 or 5 pounds. I know a couple of months have passed since you posted so my comment is probably moot – but I want to tell you it does stop.

      It will go away and return to normal!!! In my particular case I developed other side effects that I could not tolerate (although i tried), the worst one was severe eye pain and dry mouth, eyes, sinuses…..My doctor has given up trying to find a medication that works for me so she has taken me off everything. I am not in withdrawal and it is driving me crazy but I’m determined to get off all of these meds and see what the real me is like after all these years.

      I was on Lexapro for several years and it seemed to stop working so doc put me on Effexor which causes the severe dryness and finally the Viibryd. The eye pain was the straw that broke the camel’s back – I can’t take the side effects anymore so I want just want to return to normal – whatever that might be. I hope you were able to get through the hunger and are able to find resolution.

  • John August 27, 2015, 1:11 am

    I put on 15 lbs in one month, felt bloated, had swollen edemedous ankles and had random blood sugar crashes down in the 60 mmol/l range when I never had previous blood sugar problems. I also started snoring while using my cpap machine.

  • Lia August 30, 2015, 2:27 am

    I have been taking Viibryd for about two months, and it definitely picks up your mood and has made me feel much, much better — however, I, too, want to eat or snack on junk food constantly and gaining weight would be a major depressor. Plus, I cannot sleep which exhausts me! Finally, I’ve noticed some itching, too.

  • savannah September 25, 2015, 3:54 am

    I have been on viibryd for two years. The first year I felt so much better but this second year I have noticed it to not be helping as much. I have tried to come off of it, but the side effects are terrible. I have also gained about 25 pounds on this medicine.

  • Pat October 2, 2015, 11:34 am

    For six years prior to taking Viibryd, my daughter easily maintained her weight at 139 lbs without diet or exercise. On Viibryd, she quickly gained 45 lbs in the 10 months! Now it has been 6 months since she quit Viibryd and still can’t lose the weight even though she is dieting and exercising. I think Viibryd slowed her metabolism. So now she is depressed AND fat.

  • Amanda October 26, 2015, 6:37 pm

    I have been on viibryd for 2 weeks. I have lost 5 pounds even though I haven’t changed my eating habits or anything. It has helped my anxiety tremendously. I really like it.

    • Rosa January 27, 2016, 9:26 pm

      Hello, I would like to know if you continue taking viibryd and how do you feel? Had you gained any weight? I just started it today and I am terrified after reading all these comments.

  • Michelle December 30, 2015, 4:38 am

    I had been on viibryd for about 3 years and I have gained 30+ lbs. My doctor retied and the doctor that took over took a long time to call in refill so I had went 3 weeks without it. So I started having withdrawals that were awful. Heart palpitations… Feeling odd. Anger issues. Then I could tell that I didn’t want the junk food. So I stopped them completely. I wouldn’t advise anyone to take this.

  • Amanda January 16, 2016, 10:52 pm

    I’ve been taking viibryd for three weeks. Starting at 10 for a week then 20. Last week I returned to see the doctor at which point I found that in the first two weeks I had lost 8 pounds. Now I’m taking 40 and I can steadily feel an see the changes in my weight. Which I would find amazing if it weren’t for the extreme diarrhea, indigestion, nausea, and vomiting!!!

  • Stephanie Jordan January 22, 2016, 2:48 pm

    Day before yesterday I took my first dose of Viibryd! 10mg. I took it at bed time with food. I didn’t go to sleep the entire night. Finally last night I fell asleep at 8pm. A lot of diarrhea and stomach pain, but my mood is awesome! I don’t suffer from depression, I am experiencing peri-menopausal symptoms at 43 years.

    I called my doctor whom I’ve only been to once and who gave me a box of samples, and spoke to his nurse and told her of my first night experience. She said for me to break the ten mg in half and only take five…and to not take it at night anymore… Hmmm… so needless to say I didn’t break it evenly, but I took it with a small breakfast.

    I weigh 163, and I really don’t want to gain weight. I’ve read hundreds of responses and only two people said they didn’t gain… maybe at 5mg I won’t… not really sure if I should just stop before I even get started… or not take it everyday, but every other or when I feel I need it… help!

  • Robin April 10, 2016, 1:10 am

    I have only been taking viibryd for several weeks but I have already gained nearly 7 pounds! I can’t sleep and am urinating more often, especially at night while trying to get some sleep! My stomach is growling even after eat. I do not have diarrhea or nausea. My doctor told me that this drug is weight neutral but I am not so sure about that especially after reading these comments. Thanks for sharing by the way as it is truly the only real way to get answers.

  • Amanda May 20, 2016, 9:39 am

    I’ve been on vibryd 40mg for 3 months. I’ve lost 11lbs. Have sex drive back and more energy. Only side effect I have is diarrhea. I take klonopin at night and sleep like a baby. So people having trouble with sleep talk to your doctor about klonopin. I take both pills after dinner.

  • May May 24, 2016, 1:53 pm

    I started Viibyrd one week ago for anxiety. My major concern was weight gain, so most SSRI’s were not an option. So far, I’ve experienced constant diarrhea and am taking an OTC med for that. Today, I am extremely bloated and my work clothes are tight and uncomfortable. The scale says I am up 5 pounds and it’s not due to hormonal cycles.

    I am already overweight and am constantly monitoring calories as it is, so I am very uncomfortable taking a medication that seemingly is not what it says. FAR too many people are commenting on weight gain (go to BING and search Viibyrd weight gain for another thread). I am desperate for help with my anxiety but gaining any more weight would only exacerbate my depression.

    I am stopping Viibyrd before it gets out of hand. Good luck to all of you!

  • Zey May 30, 2016, 3:27 am

    I have been using Viibryd for a year. At the beginning I was breastfeeding and did not gain, but once I stopped breastfeeding I started gaining. Even though I tried so many diets, I could not lose a pound. Now I am almost up to my pregnancy weight and feeling more depressive.

  • Jeanette July 7, 2016, 3:06 am

    I’ve been on Viibryd for a couple of weeks. My Dr. started me on 5mg. (Half of the lowest made 10mg tablet) to minimize size effects. I’ve noticed mostly GI issues like stomach pain, nausea, indigestion and diarrhea. I have lost weight in the last couple weeks. My mood and anxiety are improving.

    I have had the Genesight testing and cannot take a lot of psych meds, so I’m hoping this is the one. According to my Dr. it can take up to a month for most people to adjust to the side effects of Viibryd. He recommends going slow and low with the dosage gradually.

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