Latuda (Lurasidone) is a relatively new atypical antipsychotic that was approved in 2013 for the treatment of schizophrenia and depressive episodes in Type 1 Bipolar disorder. Many have made the argument that since this is a “newer” antipsychotic, it’s likely to be “better” than the crop of older medications on the market. While no single drug can be considered a utopian option, there is evidence suggesting that Latuda is likely the best of modern day antipsychotics at addressing the cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia.
In animal studies comparing various atypical antipsychotics, Latuda was found to produce the best outcomes for cognition and memory. Some speculate that its ability to preserve memory and cognition stem from the fact that it is void of anticholinergic properties; making it unique compared to other antipsychotics. Although the drug is still somewhat new, the jury is still out regarding its complete side effect profile, particularly its tendency to cause weight gain.
Latuda and Weight Changes
The fact that Latuda doesn’t influence the H1 histamine receptor nor the M1 muscarinic receptor, may be why it is promoted as not causing significant weight gain. Furthermore, the fact that it has minimal influence on the 5HT2C receptor may also be reason as to why weight gain is unlikely. A majority of current research indicates that minimal weight gain may occur during short-term treatment, but over the long-term, it is unlikely to persist.
In fact, some evidence suggests that the drug may actually promote a small degree of weight loss. Nearly all medical professionals regard Latuda as being “weight neutral” due to the fact that no studies reported significant weight changes among particiapants.
Consensus: Latuda is “weight neutral”
Among [most] medical professionals, this drug is considered “weight neutral” in that patients are unlikely to experience significant weight gain or loss from the medication. In other words, taking this drug is unlikely to result in significant metabolic changes or body-weight fluctuations.
For this reason, it is preferred as one of the top atypical antipsychotics for those concerned about gaining weight throughout treatment. For the minority of people that experience weight gain on this drug, it generally marginal and short-term.
How Latuda May Cause Weight Gain
Below are some factors that may be contributing to weight gain while taking Latuda. Although it is fairly uncommon to gain a significant amount of weight from this particular medication, if you experience weight gain, below are some potential causes.
- Appetite boost: If you notice that you become hungrier after eating the drug, it’s probably an individualized reaction. Some people may notice that their appetite increases once their symptoms are properly treated. Assuming you were depressed and lacked appetite, taking the drug may bring back your appetite and you may gain some weight.
- Body-fat storage: The way that the body stores fat is typically based on physiology, habits, and genetics. When taking a drug like Latuda, it interferes with homeostatic processes and has potential to alter the way that the body stores fat. While the drug may not significantly influence fat storage in the majority, a minority may be affected.
- Eating with friends: Those that get benefit from the drug may be more inclined to participate in social events now that their symptoms are under control. Social events often means hanging out and going out to eat with friends. In many cases, going out for food involves unhealthier options and larger portions – both of which can contribute to weight gain.
- Food cravings: Taking antipsychotics and any psychiatric medication can lead some people to crave food. Although this drug has a different mechanism of action than your typical antipsychotic, everyone will have a different reaction based on individual biochemistry. This could result in some people to crave foods – especially if their appetite increases.
- Hormone levels: Over time, it is suspected that antipsychotics may change levels of naturally produced hormones. This can lead a person to gain weight based on the specific changes that are made from the drug. Certain people may not react as strongly and the degree of hormone changes may be dose-dependent.
- Side effects: People that experience depressant-like side effects such as fatigue, lethargy, and drowsiness may gain some weight. If you feel tired all the time from the medication, it may be tougher to get adequate physical activity to keep your metabolism high enough to burn calories. This means that you may gain some weight – especially over the short-term.
- Taste improves: For some individuals, an improvement in taste is experienced when they take this drug. This may be fairly common among those who were seriously depressed to the point that they didn’t want to eat and had a clouded perception of taste. Taking the drug may improve their perceptual abilities and/or enhance taste.
How Latuda May Cause Weight Loss
Certain people end up losing weight while taking this medication. In some cases the weight loss may be attributed to the fact that they are switching from an antipsychotic like Zyprexa that is known to cause significant weight gain. (Read: Zyprexa and weight gain). In other cases, people find that the drug kills their appetite.
- Appetite decrease: Some people experience a noticeable drop in appetite, making it difficult to eat. If you notice that you just aren’t hungry throughout the day, it can make it difficult to maintain a healthy body weight. If you have to “force” yourself to eat, you’re probably going to shed some weight on this medication.
- Diarrhea: A side effect that is reported in some individuals is that of diarrhea. Typically this is only experienced in the early stages of treatment until the body stabilizes on the medication. If you experience “disaster pants,” you may find that you temporarily lose some weight.
- Energy increase: For some users, an increase in energy is provided by the medication. This may lead to them engaging in more physical activity, exercise, and burning more calories. Should you experience a boost in energy, it is likely to contribute to weight loss.
- Nausea: Some people may become nauseous from the drug, leading to a poor appetite or difficulty eating. This is typical in the early stages of treatment, but ends up subsiding as your body adapts to the medication. The nausea may contribute to some short-term weight loss.
- Vomiting: If you notice that you’ve become nauseous while taking the drug, it could lead to vomiting. This is a surefire way to lose weight, but it generally occurs during the short-term. Most people find that the vomiting stops once the body has fully adapted to the effects of the medication.
Factors that influence weight changes on Latuda
There are some other key factors to think about if you are experiencing weight changes while taking the drug. These factors include: other medications you’re taking, your lifestyle and habits, genetics, duration of treatment, and your dosage.
1. Other medications
Those that are taking other medications may be experiencing weight changes from the other drugs. Although Latuda can affect weight for some people, if you are on other drugs, you may want to take a look at whether those could be contributing to your weight changes. It is possible that Latuda may be interacting with the other drug(s) and potentially amplifying certain mechanisms of action, which may affect weight. For those that are on a variety of other drugs, talk to your doctor if you have any concerns about the weight changes that you’re experiencing.
It is important to evaluate your lifestyle and habits to determine whether they may be contributing to weight changes. For example, if you aren’t eating healthy, don’t get sufficient sleep, and don’t make time for exercise, you’re probably going to gain weight regardless of the drug. Similarly, if you aren’t eating enough food and taking proper care of yourself, you may lose some weight. Realize that many facets of weight fluctuation are under your personal control.
There are clear genetic factors that determine whether someone has a positive experience on Latuda vs. a negative one. These genetic factors influence side effects and the degree to which you will experience weight changes. Fortunately, there is newer testing available that looks at certain genetic components to predict how you will respond to medications. This test is called “GeneSight” and may help you get a better understanding of how you’ll respond to Latuda.
4. Time Span
There doesn’t appear to be a significant correlation between time medicated with Latuda and weight change. Although shorter term studies found that people taking the drug tend to gain a small amount of weight, and longer term research showed that people may lose a small amount of weight, most experts don’t believe there is a connection between duration of treatment and weight change. That said, the longer you are medicated, the more likely that your body will adapt to the presence of the medication.
Adapting to accommodate the drug may alter homeostatic physiology, which in theory could lead to weight change on an individual basis. It should also be noted that the longer a person is on a drug, the greater the dose they are likely to be taking as a result of tolerance. Tolerance typically results in a dosage increase, which could lead to further weight change.
Most clinical evidence suggests that the dose of Latuda does not influence weight gain. Unlike other medications in which weight gain correlates directly to dosage, this doesn’t appear to be the case in Latuda. The greatest weight gain from Latuda research was experienced on 80 mg a day, which is considered a “mid-range” dosage. Since people gained more weight on the “mid-range” dose than the higher one, there doesn’t appear to be a clear association.
That said, it is important to realize that higher doses of medications tend to have greater control over physiological functioning. Since higher doses disrupt homeostatic functioning, it is always recommended to take the “minimal effective dose.” By taking the minimal effective amount, you exhibit the least amount of physiological change and are less likely to stray from your current weight.
How much weight change will you experience on Latuda?
Before assuming that you’re going to gain or lose weight on this drug, you need to try it for yourself. Each person has unique circumstances and genetics that will determine how they react to this particular drug. Some people may notice that they gain some weight, others may notice some weight loss, while others may not notice any change in weight throughout their entire course of treatment.
- Short-term: Looking at short-term studies, we can see that on average, people gain approximately 1.65 lbs. It appears as though only 5.6% of individuals taking Latuda will gain over 7% body-weight over the short term.
- Longer-term: Unfortunately most long-term studies have been “uncontrolled” in that there was no control group to compare participants. In any regard, a pooled analysis of these studies indicates that Latuda is associated with a mean weight loss of roughly 1.56 lbs. after 52 weeks. This was based on a sample size of 244 participants.
“Weighing” the pros and cons of Latuda
If you are taking this medication, it is important to foremost evaluate whether you are getting any therapeutic benefit. Assuming the drug is working well enough to control your symptoms, you probably won’t care if you gain a small amount of weight or even lose a little weight while taking it. On the other hand, if the drug isn’t working very well and/or you are experiencing extreme weight changes, it may be time to consider Latuda withdrawal. Always discuss whether you are receiving therapeutic benefit from the drug with your doctor as well as any troublesome side effects that you may be experiencing.
Did you experience weight changes while taking Latuda?
If you experienced weight gain or weight loss while taking this drug, feel free to share the details in the comments section below. If you took the medication for awhile and didn’t notice much of any weight fluctuation, be sure to mention that you remained relatively weight neutral. To get a better understanding of your circumstances, be sure to mention the dosage you took, how long you took it, whether you were on other medications, etc.
Also talk about any other factors that you believe may have contributed to your weight change while on the drug. Understand that everyone will have different experiences and just because you gained weight, lost weight, or didn’t notice any change, doesn’t mean that everyone else will follow suit. By sharing your experience, you may help another person that is experiencing something similar.