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Antidepressants and Weight Gain: What Causes It?

Approximately 1 out of 4 people that take antidepressants experience weight gain as a side effect. The weight gain may be minor, but over time, gaining a pound here and there all adds up. Many people have reported that there’s nothing they can really do to control the weight that they gain while on an antidepressant. It seems as though when a person stops taking their medication, the person tends to slowly change back to their original weight.

So what causes a person to gain weight while taking an antidepressant medication? It seems as though most people don’t fully understand how these drugs work. They can influence hormone levels, neurotransmitter levels, and can ultimately slow your metabolism. Many people eat the same diet that they did prior to using an antidepressant and still find that they gain weight.

Antidepressants and Weight Gain: What Causes It?

It is shown that most people experience weight gain after taking an antidepressant for at least 6 months. Others have reported that they gained weight within the first few months of taking a medication. Everyone responds differently to these medications, but on average, a person will gain about 10 lbs. from their antidepressant.

  • Food choices: It can be argued that antidepressants impair judgment when it comes to choosing healthy foods. Some people may take an SSRI medication and have a difficult time restraining themselves from certain foods. It has been thought that certain antidepressants may cause people to crave carbohydrates and other sweets.
  • Increased appetite: Most antidepressants lead to slight increases in appetite – especially in people who had poor appetites as a result of depression. When appetites are increased, the individual is going to eat more, and thus pack on some weight.
  • Increased social activities: If your antidepressant leads to an increase in social activities, this may also involve eating out more. You may feel happier, which leads you to do more things with your friends and in the community. Since you are more socially involved, you may find yourself dining out a lot with others.
  • Laziness: Let’s face the facts, some antidepressants cause people to become lazier.  Their motivation to go do physical activities significantly decreases and the person may get sheer enjoyment out of sitting in front of the TV or from being sedentary.  Although antidepressants don’t make everyone lazy, the serotonin can have a sedating effect in certain individuals – making it much more difficult to exercise.  Additionally some people are just naturally more lazy than others.
  • Side effects: Many medications make people feel tired, drowsy, or just plain lethargic.  If you are on a medication that is making you feel more sedated, chances are good that you’re likely not going to have motivation for working out.  Although a medication may be helping your depression, it may also be draining your physical energy and ability to follow through with exercise.  This is more common among antidepressants that primarily influence serotonin and histamine receptors.  You are less likely to feel lethargic or gain weight on antidepressants that affect norepinephrine and/or dopamine.
  • Slow metabolism: The degree to which these medications reduce the metabolic response by your body is not known. However it is hypothesized that certain SSRI’s can significantly reduce metabolism. So even if you are eating the same diet that you were prior to taking your medication, you may notice that you gain weight.

The problem is that most doctors and nurses that just go off of the literature given to them by drug companies aren’t aware of the fact that these cause weight gain. So if a patient reports that they’ve gained weight, the doctor or nurse may attribute it to something other than the SSRI medication. In reality it is extremely likely that the drug is the primary culprit for your weight gain.

Antidepressants that Cause Weight Gain: List

The main class of medications prescribed these days to treat depression are SSRI’s. However there seems to be a link between any drugs that inhibit the reuptake of serotonin and weight gain. Although many people don’t experience a ton of weight gain while on their medication, if you take an SSRI for an extended period of time, it is likely that you will pack on some pounds. Below is a list of the drugs that are considered SSRI’s and that may cause you to gain some weight.

Do SNRI’s Cause Weight Gain?

SNRI’s operate a little bit differently than standard SSRI’s. They work on preventing the reuptake of both serotonin and norepinephrine. This leads to people gaining less weight on SNRI’s than they would on SSRI’s. In fact some people stay neutral on SNRI’s or even lose weight as a result of the drug also targeting norepinephrine.

What about Viibryd?

Most people have heard reports about a newer medication called Viibryd (Vilazodone). This is a unique medication that has not been associated with any major weight gain. However most people tend to think that the reason people don’t gain significant amounts of weight while taking it has to do with the fact that it increases their frequency of bowel movements.

In other words, taking Viibryd leads more than 1 out of 3 people taking it to experience diarrhea. The diarrhea is thought to be a reason for the weight loss or inability to gain weight. This is a newer medication and the side effect profile seems to be more favorable in terms of weight fluctuation, but you may be on the toilet a lot.

What about Wellbutrin?

Really the only case that can be legitimately made for an antidepressant that may lead to weight loss is that of Wellbutrin (Bupropion). This is an atypical antidepressant that works as a norepinephrine dopamine reuptake inhibitor (NDRI). It tends to have a stimulating effect on most people that take it which can lead to decreases in appetite.

The appetite decrease can actually lead to pretty significant weight loss in certain individuals. Really any antidepressant that doesn’t inhibit the reuptake of serotonin is unlikely to cause weight gain. Most antidepressants with a stimulating effect will result in weight loss.  This is the single best antidepressant for weight loss if you are also trying to lose weight.

Tricyclic Antidepressants and MAOI’s and Weight Gain

Older antidepressants in the tricyclic and MAOI classes are not immune to causing weight gain either. Many of the older medications have a profound effect on the serotonin system and can cause individuals to gain weight. The weight gain associated with these medications is usually not considered as severe as that associated with SSRI’s, but it in some cases it is significant.

  • Tricyclics: Various tricyclic antidepressants such as: Amitriptyline, Imipramine (Tofranil), and Doxepin (Silenor) are associated with gaining weight.
  • MAOI’s: Various monoamine oxidase inhibitors such as Parnate (tranylcypromine) and Nardil (phenelzine) are associated with weight gain.

Understand: Everyone responds uniquely to medications

It is important to understand that everyone has a unique response to taking antidepressants. Although SSRI’s tend to cause weight gain, they can have different responses in different people. Some people that take them may actually experience weight loss because the antidepressants give them enough energy to get up off the couch and go do something. For other people that are already in peak physical condition, taking an SSRI may slowly pack on the pounds.

When I was on the antidepressant Paxil for about a year, I noticed some very minor weight gain. If I would have read horror stories prior to using the medication about gaining a lot of weight and other side effects, it may have scared me away from getting the treatment that I needed. Don’t assume that just because a certain drug made one person gain weight that it is going to elicit the same response in you.

Question: Does the weight gain “outweigh” the depression?

When it comes to antidepressant side effects, you have to ask yourself whether you’d rather have a few extra pounds and feel better about yourself or whether you’d rather feel depressed and be skinny. For some people gaining weight alone can make them feel depressed – even while on medication. For others the prospective weight gain scares them so much that they don’t try medications when they could really be a lifesaver.

The good thing is that even if you gain weight while on an antidepressant, you will likely lose it just as fast as you gain it. Taking the drug out of your body will trigger your body’s natural response to kick in and things will revert back to normal. Your metabolism will speed back up, your cravings for certain unhealthy foods will subside, and you will shed the extra pounds that you gained.

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68 thoughts on “Antidepressants and Weight Gain: What Causes It?”

  1. I’ve been on sertraline (zoloft) for 5 years and my dose has been increased over the years. Final dose for the past 2 years was 200mg. I was 11.5 stone before and now I’m 16 stone 5 pounds. 5 stone in 5 years. That’s 70 pounds in 5 years. The entire time I would be on one diet or another. Getting the energy to move my body has been a struggle.

    Sticking to a healthy diet was frustrating. No weight loss more than 6 pounds. Then it would come back two fold. It’s felt like I never had a chance. Now I’m at my highest weight. I’m no longer attractive. My curves aren’t curves anymore. So two days ago I have decided to come off the tablets. I feel ready in myself to give them up. The side effects off the tablets have caused my body to reject itself.

    Psoriasis, blood in stool for months on end (no cause found), stool that comes out like water most days, bleeding gums, mouth ulcers, weight gain, fatty liver and pancreas, energy levels so low sometimes I felt like led. Detached from emotions at times. This drug may have helped my brain and given me a chance to learn how to cope with my BPD. But it’s come at such a high price.

    It may have faked my way into behaving like a normal person but it never stopped me feeling like I am alone. I’m not depressed anymore. I just don’t belong to any set of groups. Still detached from everyone else. I realize now that I can do this on my own. I no longer want drugs to fix me. They don’t. They just mask the pain in cotton wool. I am now in the next chapter of my life. The one where I discover me. The real me. Without drugs.

    I hope that the weight will reduce as the drug comes out of my system. I know it won’t happen straight away and I know I can’t just stop taking this drug. I’m going down 50mg per week. See how I feel and then go down again if I feel OK. I’ve been given anti sickness and motion drug as I’m getting the lovely withdrawal symptoms. I’ve had the zaps before, I’d like to avoid those if I can. I feel sick, and at 4am I’m still up.

    Funny how I have to take more meds to get off meds. How does this even make sense. It’s not logical but needed. I just hope the temporary drugs don’t cause more side effects. My plan is to go on a keto diet. I felt good on that diet. More alive, woke up well. Able to not just avoid sugary foods and carbs. I just dint want them. Here’s to changing. Let’s hope I can see it through. My body needs it.

    • Hi Becky, just checking in to see how you are doing!? I’m on 100mg and experiencing the same side effects. I meet with my doctor next week and want to speak with him about slowly coming off.

  2. I have been on Citalopram for anxiety for 18 months and have gained 10kg. After reading this forum a few months ago, I decided to wean myself off it.
    Went from 40mg to 30mg for 2 weeks, only symptoms were achey arms and hands. Then down to 20mg for the next 2 weeks, some nausea and increased achey arms and hands.

    Now I have been on 10mg for the past 2 weeks. Last week I started to get randomly dizzy and with this comes nausea. Mostly I can cope with this by being careful not to turn my head suddenly. Today for the first time I experienced some anxiety which really isn’t very nice and reminded me of why I went on this in the first place.

    I took some diazepam and that helped me get calmer again. I was going to cut down to 5 mg this week but now I think I will wait a little longer and see. I start a new job next week and want to be well for it. Reading people’s comments has been helpful but I do want to hear from people who have successfully come off it and lost weight.

    • 3 weeks later. Went to 5mg 2 weeks ago. Had a really bad headache that lasted for 6 days, only eased off with strong medication. The vertigo has eased but when I work out, I feel really nauseous and then I get body aches that I have to take pain relief for. The last 2 days, I have been on 2.5 mg, plan to be on this for 10 days and then off for good. Some anxiety but that may be job related. Good luck everyone.

  3. Hello, I wrote a post back in 2015 and I am so happy that others have found this article and have provided updates and know that you’re not alone! Another update. I have now been off of citalopram since August 4, 2015 and now finally I am seeing a big difference with the weight loss!!! Yay!!

    There is hope, don’t get rid of your clothes that aren’t fitting at the moment! I haven’t changed my exercise or eating habits too drastically, I think it is just my metabolism has taken this long to get back to normal, and believe it or not I am still getting the occasional brain zap! I hope there is not any permanent damage done.

    If you are still trying to lose the weight gained from the medication, once you are off know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, you just need to be patient. Trust me I did have my moments of frustration during this last year and a half that it would never come off, but it does!!! The doctors lie or are just not told about the weight gain in training or, I know this sounds a bit nuts but maybe the doctors “not knowing” is party of the multi-billion $ diet industry, maybe they are in cahoots!

    (Notice the ads on this website, a bit fishy is it not?). Who knows, it seems so bizarre to me that a physician would have no idea about the weight gain, the most obvious side effect! Anyways enough about my crazy ways. And when being on the medication, I could not help giving in to my food cravings, and the junkier the food the more satisfying but yes I could not get enough.

    I was told by doctors that maybe I was eating more/gaining weight because I was feeling better (not depressed), total bull! It is the medication. Keep at it people, there is hope!!

  4. Hi I’m glad I found this site. I am coming off my cit form 40mg to 30mg now 20mg. I have lost 4lb already and have more energy also feel human again, I’m on 10mg from Jan 07. I think sharing information like this will help people. Please keep posting as it’s great to know there is other people going through the same thing. Lots of good advice too.

  5. I have been on antidepressants for the last seven years. I have had many different prescribers because I moved four times during this time. What I have realized from reading others’ posts and comparing to my own experiences, everyone is going to react differently. Its very difficult to find the medication that is right for you and it may change over time as your life circumstances and lifestyle change. And maybe no medication is best for you.

    I most recently was prescribed Effexor because Zoloft was making me a zombie. Every time I stepped on a scale it would go up, 25lbs in a matter of months. My prescriber told me month after month, that there was no way Effexor was causing the weight gain. During a visit with my general practitioner, I told him the trouble I was having with weight. He said a lot of people gain a lot of weight from Effexor. This is the polar opposite of what the prescriber told me.

    I finally demanded to be taken off of it because it wasn’t doing anything for depression because I no longer fit in my clothes, (enough to drive any woman mad!, especially when she workouts 6 times a week and eats a modest diet) . I’m on Wellbutrin now and the weight is starting to come off. I have another 15lbs to go! However, it has done little to help my depression. This is all so subjective! I wish the best for all of you!

  6. I gained 20 lbs while I was on Zoloft between 2007 and 2009. I didn’t change my diet or exercise routine at all (if anything, I was eating more healthy and exercised more!) so I know for a fact that the weight gain was from the medication. I lost the weight after I took myself off Zoloft in January of 2009. You need to be really careful when taking these medications if you are watching your weight.

    I have body image issues, so the weight gain really affected me psychologically. If you are on an antidepressant, I would strongly recommend going on a low-calorie vegetarian organic diet and exercising 5-6 times per week to prevent weight gain.

  7. Wow. I knew I wasn’t imagining that my weight gain was connected to the citalopram. The doctor said it wasn’t a side effect well thank goodness I came across your comments today. I have put on about 30lbs in 2 1/2 years. I have been tapering off for the last week and at the moment feel fine except for niggling headache. I am hoping that I will start losing the weight after reading all these comments. ☺☺

  8. Thanks so much for writing this article! It feels incredibly validating. I have been on Zoloft 250 mg for 5 years for OCD. In that time I went from weighing 180-190 to weighing 220-230. I look and feel awful. And am worried about my physical health. My BMI is 32 and my body fat percentage is 28%. I have tried every diet imaginable and have gone to numerous nutritionists.

    I got a trainer and my body just didn’t respond to the workouts. Admittedly, I don’t stick to a great diet and snack a lot. And the snakes are far from nutritious. The thing is I had this type of diet BEFORE starting the meds. I do feel an increase appetite. I can eat 3 really healthy meals but at the end of the day feel starving. I get the worst hunger pangs.

    It almost feels like I am sleeping on an empty stomach. I really think Zoloft affects your appetite. The other thing it has to be doing is slowing my metabolism down. The problem is is that this medication has been the most helpful out of many in reducing my OC symptoms. And going off I have horrible “withdrawal effects.” I don’t know what to do.

    It’s either I am paralyzed by my OCD or on the meds and more functional but fat and miserable. I can’t take people thinking that I am not health conscious. The extra weight is a constant reminder of my struggle. Any suggestions?? The minimum effective OCD dose of an SSRI is much higher than for other disorders so I can’t just go on a lower amount.

  9. Glad I’ve read this. In 2008 shortly after having my dear daughter. I took myself to the doctors and was prescribed citalopram. This lead to fluoxetine, sertraline, pregabalin, paroxetine and the last AD Mirtazapine. None of them were wonderful, they worked OK then I’d be back to doctors for a change or stopping them myself.

    Prior to being pregnant I was around the 10stone to 11 stone mark. Whilst having SSRIs my weight was around 13 stone. I was always thinking why have I never lost the baby weight, it seems the tablets where working to help me stay were I was. Anyways. I was prescribed, mirtazapine sept 2015… My weight seemed to go on over night… I have never felt so embarrassed of myself and trapped. I didn’t want go to work. Never ate out.

    Became a prisoner in my house really. I’m now 16stone 2. Whilst on this tablet. I tried slimming world, my fitness pal, more dog walks. Shake diets, whatever I did I could not get under 16 stone. So last Sunday I decided I’ve had enough as now I’ve come to the conclusion that my weight is down to the mirtazapine. My withdrawal is pretty raw at the moment and I’m never ever going to take a antidepressant ever again.

    I’m hoping in a few months I will have naturally lost the weight and I can get on my fitness pal and exercise. Going on here! Apologies. My next point is. I went to the doctors concerned with my weight earlier in the year. They did a full blood test. Liver and kidney function etc. Nothing showed. All the while I’m baffled as to why, blaming myself for eating more, which looking back I did on this drug, grazed what ever I wanted too at whatever time.

    I seemed to never feel full and would want the carbs chocolate sugar and crisps. Yet. Not once did any doctor say oh maybe its your medication. It was a though they were really concerned as to why I put on the weight, but the lightbulb never switched on. If that had been said all them months ago I would have stopped them then rather than causing myself more pain and frustration.

    Now I’m on day 8 of withdrawal and my appetite is kind of how it use to be. I have no desire for cakes, crisp… I’m eating a lot less. Have more energy. If the doctors could have forewarned me about this possible side effect I would have swerved it. I’m not sure why I felt the need to share this! But I did :) Take care everyone x

  10. I made the decision to stop taking my Celexa yesterday. I am having some pretty heavy discontinuation symptoms..which really sucks. But I cannot take the rapid weight gain. It does make me feel better, although now I’m disgusted with myself. I was put on Celexa in January after the death of my grandmother.

    It’s now August…and I’ve gone from 118 to 134 (that’s when I weighed myself in July, I’m sure is higher since the selection of clothing I have keeps getting smaller). I’d push to guess I’m close to 140 or higher now. I haven’t been this heavy since I was pregnant. No changes in diet. Increase activity since I started taking it during spring and over summer.

    I’m a single parent to two children so basically never get to sit still. After changing my diet and increased exercise didn’t help… I started taking laxatives… very bad. Super dangerous, and embarrassing to admit. I’m desperate tho. I have been taking laxatives for a month straight now. And my weight hasn’t budged. I have got to come off this med.

    • I started taking Celexa in January. My doctor said that it was a weight neutral antidepressant! I have no idea where he got his information! I have gained 26 lbs in 9 months! I have CHF and do not need to carry any extra weight, especially in the stomach. I told him last week that I needed/wanted to stop taking it. I asked how to taper off but was told at 20 mgs that I could just stop. Not true! I am finishing my first week and feel nauseated and dizzy. It is depressing to read these comments about how resistant the weight is to shed.

  11. I have been on Celexa 40mg for about 8 years. I have gone from 130 lbs to 180 lbs. I have not really changed anything (except for actually eating healthier!) and still continue to gain. On top of that, my sex drive is gone. I started tapering off a few months ago and took my last pill 3 days ago.

    I’m lightheaded but seem to be okay otherwise. I hope I will start to lose the weight that I put on. I feel like the medication has caused more depression because of the weight gain than what I had before starting on the meds! Good luck to everyone else that is going through this and hopefully we all come out better from stopping :)

  12. This whole thread is making me feel validated and panicked at the same time! I am on Paxil and have been gaining weight like a crazy person. I WAS a size 4 before I started the medication. I am now a size 8 and swiftly climbing. I eat very healthy–very little dairy and no gluten due to celiac disease. My diet has not changed at all. There is no reason for this weight gain other than the meds.

    Has anyone else experienced this while taking Paxil??? Also, which is worse? Being thin with anxiety and panic attacks, or being overweight and calm?

  13. Hi. I have gained so much weight after taking not only one, but 4 different kinds of antidepressant medications. I have gained over 40lbs. I am so disappointed with my weight gain I don’t know what to do. I don’t eat that much, I try exercising and other myths of trying to lose weight and nothing seems to work. I decided to go cold turkey and just stopped taking them all at once. Now I’m feeling lightheaded and my stomach feels upset. I hope that I start losing weight because I don’t want to be fat.

  14. I have been taking Citalopram 10 mg for about a year now. It was given to me on top of my Wellbutrin/bupropion and it was because I always had this anxiety feeling. I in this time have packed on 15 lbs! I have tried to exercise and found a lack of energy. I would rather sleep most of the time. I have been eating like a crazy person.

    I also have joint pain in my hips and feet. I can barely walk when I first start from a sitting position. I think this pill is awful and wish I had never taken it. I asked the doctor to give me something else and he told me I had to come in to talk about it. I am thinking, why? It doesn’t work give me something different.

    I am going to slowly come off of it too. I hope I can get the weight down I am more depressed from my weight and had to buy new clothes for vacation because none of mine fit. I had no idea it could be my meds. giving me all this trouble. I wonder if I up the Wellbutrin if it would help from withdrawal for citalopram? Anyway this was me venting. Thanks for listening/reading.

  15. Has anyone had any luck losing weight after stopping Celexa/Citalopram? I have been off it now for 7 months and I have lost nothing!! Would love to hear your progress.

  16. I have been on cit for a few years now for anxiety disorder. Panic attacks. For the last maybe 9 months my prescriptions been at 80 mg. My friends and family say I’ve changed. I’ve gotten into trouble at work. I don’t know if I’m thinking straight. I’m going to go cold turkey today. I hardly eat and I still put on weight. How did I let this happen?

  17. So good to know that I am not the only one! I have been on Celexa twice. After the first time I swore I would never go on it again, but some unfortunate events occurred and I went back on. After this round, NEVER again, it changes you (even after tapering off!). After coming off the first time I believe it took about 4 to 5 months to loose the weight (I gained 15 lbs). This time I also gained 15 lbs.

    I took my last pill August 4, 2015 and I have not lost anything. I range throughout the day between 3 to 5 lbs. I have started exercising as much as I can (it is busy working full-time with 2 young kids) and I went through a period of eating very healthy, a couple months ago, with no changes in weight. It is so very frustrating, I cannot fit into more than half my clothes, I hate it!! The weights (or shall I say FAT) is in the gut/waist and butt, I feel so giggly.

    Now, I am just doing what I can and I am hoping for the best in the new year. I don’t drink much and I have also stopped drinking coffee, I have read that coffee raises cortisol levels which can lead to weight gain, so I am done with that now. Hopefully in the new year the pounds will start to shed. Re: The brain zaps, even after almost 5 months of being off Celexa I find I still get them.

    Now if I drink I get them at night and when I would drink coffee at night I would get them as well, I no longer get them throughout the day. I find I am also still very tired and unmotivated. This stuff messes with your entire system, I hope I will not be like this the rest of my life, I feel like I have been robbed of who I really am!!

  18. Oh Boy! Same story for me. I started taking these pills when I was 21 (15 years ago) because of severe depression. they helped me a lot at that time. then got married had a child. And a divorce. A hard one which gave me depression and panic attacks. So I started taking them again in 2007. So I am on them for 9 years. And during this time gained 40lbs.

    And I started hating myself. I was even a model at a time but now a size 14! I am now trying to be off. It’s been a month that I am without my Lexapro. First 20mg then 10 mg then 5 mg and finally off.But it is like I am addicted to them. I am so scared that I will have my panics back. Oh Lord help me! And I also need your support. Do you think I can handle this? Do you think they will come back?

    And do you think I will be able to lose weight? I will update about the weight loss! May God bless you. All the best for everybody who fights with depression and weight.

  19. Wow. So many people with the same problem. I was on cit for 3 years. Despite working out every day, cutting down the alcohol and virtually living on salad my weight continued to climb. When I first started the cit it was okay for 6 months. I retained my 10st9lb figure and wore a size 10. When I finally finished cit I weighed over 14st and I was hanging over the top of size 16s.

    I have been off for 18 months now but I still weigh over 12st which is disgusting! I can wear a size 12 now though but I am still so embarrassed about my stomach fat. I recently hooked up with an old boyfriend and we got on great but all I could think was that he must have thought he was looking at a different woman all flabby and horrible. I cycle 60 miles a week plus run one 5k session per week.

    I walk my dog for miles everyday but the rest of the flab won’t shift. I’m too scared to see the doctor in case he puts me back on cit again for my anxiety over this. Before anyone suggests diets I have tried all of them. Weight watchers for 3 months. I lost 3lbs abd I was absolutely starving! Juice plus for 6 weeks. I had to come off it because the sugar rush followed by the slump was unbearable.

    2 shakes and one meal of clean food per day for those 6 weeks. Did I lose any weight? Not an ounce! I’m so miserable and feel that nobody could ever love this fat disgusting woman. Why wasn’t I warned about this?

  20. My story is very similar. The onset of menopause seemed to increase my lifelong battle with anxiety and it became clear I needed to go the route of taking medication to control it. My doc prescibed Celexa. I will admit it was the closest thing to a miracle drug for me in terms of controlling the anxiety and getting my life back. But the weight gain simply became too big of an issue.

    The body changes that go with being middle aged/menopausal are “fun” enough to deal with but then loading on some extra pounds that I couldn’t seem to control no matter how I watched my diet and exercise was just too much. The first time I complained to the doctor about it I got the “quality of life” speech but he added Wellbutrin hoping it would offset the side effect. His point was well taken so I marched on – now on Celexa and Wellbutrin. But after a little over a year going from 165 (which I was already unhappy with) to nearly 200 was the tipping point. No pun intended.

    I tapered off fairly quickly and have been taking only Wellbutrin for a month. I haven’t had the zaps but I have had some anger, tearfulness, dizziness, trouble sleeping and a miserable case of intermittent diarrhea. Oh, and I’ve lost 2 pounds! It doesn’t sound like much but I couldn’t lose an ounce to save my life when I was on the Celexa…so I hope this is a sign that the weight really will come off eventually.

  21. Another check in! I have to say I do not regret taking Celexa. It helped me calm down and focus long enough to get therapy, deal with my problems, make rational choices, and quit smoking. I look like a tent full of wet bagels but I’ve come a very long way. That said! I gained 60 lbs over a nine year period. That can do a number on your self esteem. (A number two.)

    I’ve found that cardio and weight lifting help wear me out to get rid of the anxiety. I’m down to 5 mgs this week from a year of 60 mgs, seven years at 40 mgs, and this past year at 20 mgs, then 10mgs. I haven’t lost any weight yet but I look forward to checking in with good news soon :)

  22. Hi. I was on Citalopram/Celexa 20mg for 4 years. In that 4 years, I gained 20lbs. I am also a vegetarian and I always eat healthy and I work out 4 days a week mixing weights and cardio and then hiking on the weekends. No matter what I did, my weight stayed the same. I couldn’t lose weight or gain weight. I was just stuck with that extra 20 lbs.

    I’ve done three weeks of tapering off of the drug and now I’m three days in to not taking any pills at all. I’m extremely dizzy and irritable but I know I can get through this and hope to lose that 20lbs and get back to normal. I’ll try to swing by here again and update my progress as the weeks go by. Hope you all do too!

  23. Wow. So glad I stumbled upon this today. I took Celexa for about 11 months before tapering for the last month and finally stopping last week. I’ve been experiencing dizziness and feeling very lightheaded (which I don’t think I’ve ever experienced in life so it caught me off guard) so I’m pleased to know that’s what it’s from. In terms of weight gain, my PCP gave me no indication that could be a side effect (I like him very much so I’ll forgive him).

    But I have noticed a minor weight gain since I’ve managed to maintain the same weight for most of my adult life and I now exercise more than ever! (Having a 1/5 year old German Shepherd means LOTS of walking around the neighborhood and any park I can find! I’m eager to see what happens now that I’ve stopped the medication. Good luck to all of you! Stay strong!

  24. I’ve been on one antidepressant or another since 1998 when Depression grabbed hold of me & wouldn’t let go. My weight is horrible, I’ve gained so much. I had no idea this would happen. Will be talking with my Dr & begin to taper off. So much information here!

  25. So happy I came across this! I’ve been on citalopram for around 5 years, and decided to quit around 3 weeks ago. Ballooned from a size 8/10 to 14/16!!! I really hope the weight falls off as fast as it has for others! Haven’t had many withdrawal symptoms, just brain zaps, and worsening of my restless legs syndrome ?. Best of luck to you all! ❤

  26. Wish I had read these comments a long time ago! I have been on Citalopram for about 7 years. I have gained 70 pounds. I just assumed I was unable to control my snack urges. The doctor told me I needed to exercise and watch what I ate. I never felt like exercising and I was always hungry. I started weaning myself off 40mg (4 years on this dose) 3 months ago, I am now down to 10mg (14 days), soon 0 mg!! I do get a little weepy sometimes but otherwise I seem to be doing OK.

  27. I’m so glad I’ve come across this website! I’ve been on citalopram for 18 months and I’d lost most of my baby weight when I started taking the meds. Despite regular exercise I quickly gained around 30lb!! Admittedly some of the gain was due to my craving for chocolate but even when I dieted for a month or so I’d only lose a lb or two!

    I’ve now started to come off and have reduced from 20mg to 10mg. I’m now just taking 1 a week but I’m thinking of stopping the meds completely. I’ve not been too bad withdrawing but I’ve noticed I’m very tired at times, a little bit weepy now and then and worst of all, the brain zaps!! I can’t wait for those to stop! Wishing you all the very best of luck.

  28. I have been on Celexa (40mg) since 2009 and I have gained a good 25-30 pounds. I am now at 20mg (for 2 months now) but I still did not lose the weight. Grrr! Although the meds helped a lot, I hate the pounds I packed. Since I’ve been lowering my dose, I feel the electric shocks in my head, palpitations, the headaches, etc. Has anyone had night sweats while on Celexa? I have them bad! Oh, and that one food craving you CANNOT quit? I swear I will turn into a fry and gravy!… Anyways, as good as I feel inside I hate the weight gain!!!!

  29. I started sertraline 1 & 1/2 years ago due to depression and thinking I was losing my mind! I am an avid trail runner/cyclist and have raced both quite a bit. I felt like the meds worked great! Felt normal again, not crazy:) my husband and two kids could really tell a difference, I started at a weight of 123lbs and lost 5 lbs which is a lot for me & 5ft 6 in. But after being on the meds for about 6 months I noticed bloating and some weight gain.

    I have always stayed 120-123 lbs my whole adult life give or take the time of the month:) I have always eaten a vegetarian diet, no sugar and lots of drag fruit and veggies and mostly gluten free due to my husbands celiac. So here I am 1 1/2 years later and weighing 128-129 lbs what the %#*^! It has got to be the Meds!!! I exercise the same as always, but not quite as intense the meds have slowed me down some.

    So 6 days a week 2 hrs running or biking with 30 min light weights and yoga stretching. And on Saturdays sometimes I’m out 3-4+ hrs! So if I have gained my measly 9 lbs this medication is messed up! So 5 days ago I quit cold turkey despite all the warnings, I’m very stubborn:( but so far so good, just some nausea and some dizziness, not to bad, maybe because of all the exercise I do. Hopefully the weight will come off and I will be able to increase my workout intensity. By the way I’m 40 yrs old :). Hang in there everyone, we can all beat this!!

  30. I gained 65 lbs. over 9 years on Lexapro. I didn’t even know why because I don’t eat unhealthy. I can’t even cook. I never knew it was the medicine. I was fully weaned off in March and I’ve lost 20 lbs. in 3 months and I’m not even exercising. I have 45 to go but yes Lexapro packs on pounds like crazy!

    • Wow Amanda, good on you for making the decision to come off. I’m really interested as, although it’s citalopram I’m on & not Lexapro, I believe the effects are more or less the same? I’ve been taking Cit for 16 months (30mg) for anxiety & have gained just over a stone. This is more surprising than it sounds as five years ago I had weight loss surgery, a gastric sleeve, which means my stomach is about the size of an egg!

      I’m now contemplating coming off as its causing my sodium levels to drop & also I don’t want to be on it forever as I will end up back at my pre op weight at this rate! I’m a bit apprehensive about doing this though. Can you tell me a bit about your experience in coming off? Is it unbearable at times?

      • Loulyn, get out now! I’m in exact same situation! 2 and 1/2 years ago I had my gastric band surgery and lost 44lb in about 2/3 months. Then my depression and OCD got worse and I went for Citalopram. I am now pre-op weight and counting and my self esteem is non existent. But I quit Citalopram a month ago and although withdrawals have been horrible, I’m still hoping (and desperate) that the weight will just come off!! I’d love to know how long it would take for the weight to start coming off! :(

      • I have been on citalopram for 7 years and gained over 50 pounds. I have been weaning myself of very slowly. I was on 40mg and I am now down to 10mg and will be off soon. Not only did I gain weight I was numb to everything. I could feel sadness but I could not feel true happiness or excitement for anything.

        I am already starting to feel human again and it is wonderful. I already seem to have more energy. I hope the weight comes off too. I have such a low self esteem due to the weight gain. I will never go on something again. It has turned me into a tired, overweight and very mellow person.

  31. I’ve been on Celexa for two years and went from size 4 to size 8. I work out, run, play tennis, count calories; nothing helps. I’m bloated, retaining water and fat. My options are skinny with panic attacks or fat & happy.

    • Alex I feel you pain! I have been on sertraline for 18 months and have gained 8 painful lbs! I am an avid trail runner and cyclist, putting in around 12+ hrs a week. The weight gain and the slow down in my intensity of my workouts has freaked me out! So I quit cold turkey (dumb I know). 5 days ago but so far so good, just some nausea and a little dizziness.

      Hopefully nothing more than that, and I’m not depressed so far:). Hopefully the intensity will come back to my workouts, not that I’m slow, and the stupid weight will fall off and I can return to my 120lb normal weight. Hopefully things will work out for you, just hang in there!!!

    • I know exactly what you mean. I have been on zoloft for over 10 years. I weighed 130 when I went on them and now weight 220. Not happy feeling fat but yet I never want to go back to panic attacks and anxiety attacks. Zoloft is the only thing that has worked for my panic attacks. I hated panic attacks so bad. I tried to go off zoloft but I started having electric shocks down my back and head. SO I guess I am stuck with zoloft rest of life and FAT.

  32. Now I know why I keep gaining weight. I started taking mine about 2 & 1/2 years ago and have gained about 40 lbs. I hadn’t changed my diet and no matter what I have done I just keep gaining. I couldn’t understand why I was gaining so much. Now it makes sense. Time to wean myself and get rid of this weight.

  33. Five years later – I will never take another Celexa pill. Forty pounds heavier – have not only made some bad choices about what to eat and struggled with losing this weight, but have been brain numbed leading to bad decisions, emotionally, and financially as well. I had some problems at work that I wasn’t coping with when prescribed this drug but never really comprehended the meaning of depression. Now 2 weeks after stopping these pills the meaning of depression has slammed its way in along with nearly all of the other withdrawal symptons. Please don’t start on this if you have any other way to go – doctors should read these posts and be aware – I did ask about side effects only to be told this drug is harmless.

    • That is exactly what I was told – oh it’s harmless and non-addictive. I was OK for about 6 months then slowly started to deteriorate mood-wise and also started to gain weight. I have gained around 56lbs in all and feel terrible. 6 years later and I’ve weaned myself off these horrible things and, like you, would not advise anyone to take them if there is any kind of alternative.

    • I have been on different antidepressants for 15 years. The last one Brintellix made me nauseous fat bloated twitchy and was only on for a month. Took myself off and battling to lose the weight. My shrink gave me script for equally disastrous pills which I am not taking. I only crashed cause I was on Effexor for seven years an takes many months to leave your body.

      I will never take another antidepressant again. Am starting to feel much better and it has been a long hard journey. I suppose they helped me when my life was hell, having gone through cancer twice divorce and losing through death of my entire family. So don’t give up.

  34. Wow, have I had my head in the sand. I went on Celexa about 7 years ago for mild depression when my wife and I had some problems. Just kept taking it. Doctor never had a discussion with me, I never had a discussion with myself. I have gained 70 lbs over those 7 years and just thought I was being lazy. We eat well, but I do watch what I eat. I always was way too tired after work to go workout, etc.

    Eight days ago, I had to quit Celexa because it interfered with some antibiotics I was taking for a severe infection. Doctor said quit Celexa and stay on the antibiotics. Holy cow!!! Not the best option. I felt like CRAP!! Electric flashy feeling, sleepiness, upset stomach, aches and all this I attributed to the antibiotics. Went to see my doctor and she asked about how I felt not taking Celexa. Fine!! Wrong.

    After reading posts and understanding the problems with taking Celexa, I’m off it for good. Symptoms are subsiding, feeling more myself and getting some energy back. BTW, my wife and I are fine and still going strong 28 years. Sad I didn’t bother to figure out that Celexa may contribute to some problems I was having with weight and laziness sooner. Looking forward to seeing how life is now.

  35. I Have been on Celexa for about 4 years now and have been at the 40mg mark for over 2. When I started taking the medication I weighed around 150ish. Now I’m at a whopping 200lbs. I know it’s not just the medications’ fault for the weight, I’m the one chewing and swallowing, but I have noticed a big impact. I’ve been tapering oft the meds and I am now on day 7 of no meds taken. This is the longest I’ve gone with out having to take the mess. I’ve been on pills for 6 years now and I’m over it.

  36. Ever since I’ve taken these antidepressants, I’m gaining weight a lot. I try harder to eat less food but I can’t. I keep craving chocolates and sweets. I’m really worried about my weight I was on 70kg now I’m 96kg.

  37. I’ve been on Celexa for 4 years and gained 40 lbs from a size 4 to a 12. I was taking 40mgs for anxiety. The weight gain and puffy eyes, I’ve had it. I’m going off. Today. That’s it.

    • Please be careful and taper off. I was on 20 mg for 11 years and started tapering 8 weeks ago. I feel good and I am down to 10 mg. I will be completely off soon but you just don’t want to make yourself feel awful when you come off because then you run the risk of needing to go back on. Best of luck! We all need to be off this!

  38. I recently stopped taking celexa after about three years on 10mg. I’ve been off for about two weeks, and so far have experienced very few withdrawal symptoms. However, there were many side effects… 20lb weight gain, terrible heart burn, stomach bloating and gurgling gas. Blurry vision, and darkness around my upper and bottom eyelids. Hopefully I will start loosing the weight. Although celexa did help with the anxiety, the side effects are terrible, and I’m happy to be off it. My intentions are to be never take an antidepressant again If I can help it.

  39. I gained 30 pounds on Pristiq in less than a year on 50 mg dose. My belly is so bloated. I even changed my diet to low fat, low carb and pounds packed on. I tapered by taking one every other day. The brain zaps and dizziness are subsiding after two weeks only occasionally being bothersome. I just wonder how long until these pounds go away? Good luck to all going through discontinuation of antidepressants.

  40. It is definitely a factor over a longer period of time. Up 3 pounds.. Down 2 pounds and not knowing why or when? No matter which drugs I have been on. You may have to exercise more than you ever have in your life… And still never know how your weight will be after a period of time. This is hard at 63 years of age and everyday the struggle to see how your jeans feel in the morning is a trauma in itself. It appears ALMOST futile!

    • Went off 40mg Paxil after taking it for 13 years. Since August I have lost 13 pounds and still losing. Haven’t changed anything in my diet or lifestyle. Sometimes I get worried because of the weight loss thinking it’s something else. Doctor seems to think I’m OK.

  41. Thank you for such an informative article. I have a history of anorexia and my dr put me on cialopram. I have gained 12 pounds in the past 7 months. I eat fairly healthy. The increased weight is now causing more anxiety and depression for me. It is one vicious cycle! I stopped taking it as of yesterday so I hope it gets better.

  42. Thank you very much! This is very informative, very necessary for everyone who is suffering from withdrawal symptoms and weight gain. I was a size 8 before I started Citalopram now I am a size 14!! I have tried dieting, reducing my portion and even skipping meals…nothing works. I am determined more than ever to stay off this medication so that I can return to my size 8 figure.

      • I also gained 50 lbs in 6 months, I have been on it for years, I did get off it for 3 months and lost 25 lbs immediately, but, it was very difficult, as time went on I felt horrible, so I decided to back on it and that to was difficult, feeling overwhelmed fatigued, and again gained the 25 lbs back, I guess I rather be happy and fat, but, at time I get depressed being fat, I have tried everything to loose weight and can’t.

        And now I am in menopause so now I have another thing against me, I was 140 lbs and actually looked good and now I am pushing 200 lbs. I never thought I would get so fat, I was always consious about my weight and figure. I have read that paxil messes with the metabolism. How can I get that to work while taking paxil, any advice is appreciated. Thank you, flustered

        • I too have gained 30 to 40 pounds over this last year and I no longer have any clothes that fit. I’m more miserable now with extra weight and lots of sleep than I ever was without my antidepressants.

    • I’ve been on meds for 14 years. I gained 65 lbs. I’m 42. Last year I got off my butt and changed my diet and I started going to the YMCA. I lost 70+ lbs doing Atkins and other low carb eating styles. It can be done. In recent months I’ve gained back 13lbs. I haven’t been exercising or watching my diet. Life has been pretty stressful.

      I used to think like you. I have fibromyalgia and my lower back is ruined. I found out the more I exercised and lifted weights the better my body felt. Now I’m in pain everyday again. My motivator was I wanted to be able to mount my horse without slipping the saddle. Now I need to refocus. Good luck!

    • In the least offensive way to you… I am so happy I came across this article to see I’m not alone in the dreaded weight gain! I went from a size 8 to a 14/16 in 6 months, very upsetting and I just thought I was doing it on purpose, I didn’t realise the tablets were causing it. However I am really hoping my appetite will go back to normal soon :-)

    • Did you end up losing the weight? I was also an size 8 now a 12. I have been off celexa for 1 and 1/2 months… working out, watching diet… and nothing.


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