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Does Buspar Cause Weight Gain or Loss?

Buspar (buspirone) is a medication [of the azapirone classification] that’s most commonly administered for the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).  Although Buspar is solely approved by the FDA for the treatment treat anxiety disorders, it is occasionally prescribed for other medical conditions like: major depressive disorder (as a standalone or adjunct); cerebellar ataxia; sexual dysfunction (i.e. hypoactive sexual desire disorder); attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and irritability associated with dementia.

When administered, Buspar crosses the blood-brain-barrier (BBB) and functions as a 5-HT1A receptor agonist.  More specifically, Buspar acts as a full agonist at presynaptic 5-HT1A receptors and a partial agonist of postsynaptic 5-HT1A receptors.  Among persons who respond well to Buspar, the therapeutic effects derived from the medication are likely attributable to its interaction with 5-HT1A receptors.

Although Buspar does not work for everyone, it is generally regarded as one of the safest psychiatric medications available and best medications for anxiety – mostly because it doesn’t usually cause severe side effects or harsh withdrawals [following discontinuation].  Nevertheless, if you’re a prospective Buspar user, you may be curious as to whether the medication is likely to body weight by causing unwanted weight gain or weight loss.

Buspar & Weight Gain vs. Weight Loss (Potential Causes)

Data from clinical trials in which the side effects of Buspar were thoroughly examined indicate that the medication is unlikely to cause clinically-relevant weight change among users.  To be clear, clinically relevant weight change is defined as an increase or decrease in body weight of at least 7% from baseline (pre-Buspar use).

Buspar packaging data lists “weight gain” and “weight loss” as infrequent side effects – or reactions that occur in less than 1% of all users.  Nevertheless, just because clinical trials report weight change as being an infrequent or relatively rare side effect does not mean that Buspar never causes weight change (gain or loss).

There’s a small chance that you could respond to Buspar differently than the majority of users – and end up gaining or losing a substantial amount of weight as a direct result of the medication.  Included below are some hypothetical ways in which Buspar might cause someone to gain or lose weight while under its influence.  Understand that if you experience weight change from Buspar – the cause(s) of your change might differ from those of another user.

Appetite change: Some individuals may notice an appetite changes while under the influence of Buspar.  Increased appetite is documented as an infrequent reaction to Buspar (occurring in less than 1% of users).  If your appetite increases during treatment, realize this could lead to weight gain.

Although decreased appetite is not documented as a common reaction, appetite reduction might occur in some Buspar users as a byproduct of common Buspar side effects such as: stomach aches, nausea, vomiting, constipation, and/or diarrhea.  If your appetite decreases while taking Buspar – this may be a precursor to weight loss.

Anxiety reduction: It is known that untreated anxiety can affect appetite, feeding behavior, and physical activity.  Some individuals with untreated anxiety might be underweight because their anxiety suppresses appetite, reduces caloric intake, and increases non-exercise activity thermogenesis (from fidgeting behavior).

Another subset of individuals with untreated anxiety might be overweight as a result of the anxiety increasing appetite and/or leading to overeating as a coping mechanism.  If you are either underweight or overweight as a result of untreated anxiety, you may experience respective weight gain or weight loss while using Buspar if the medication effectively treats your anxiety.

Cognitive function: Research indicates that individuals with generalized anxiety disorder may exhibit cognitive impairments, particularly in domains of selective attention and working memory.  It’s possible that preexisting cognitive impairments (due to an untreated anxiety disorder) could interfere with one’s self-regulation (around food) or planning (of meals) – and lead to overconsumption or underconsumption.

However, if Buspar proves beneficial for anxiety, its anxiolytic effect may ameliorate cognitive deficits that impact feeding behavior.  Moreover, cognitive enhancement derived from Buspar bolsters one’s ability to self-regulate around food and plan meals – this might help normalize food intake (in overeaters and undereaters), leading to healthy weight changes.

Cravings:  Some individuals claim that after initiating treatment with a neuropsychiatric medication like Buspar – they suddenly notice the emergence of food cravings (usually for unhealthy items).  Because carbohydrates are known to increase serotonin concentrations, it is hypothesized that modulation of serotonergic neurotransmission with a medication like Buspar might induce carbohydrate cravings.

That said, the cravings you experience may not necessarily be limited to carbs.  Certain medications may increase preference for fatty foods – or hyperpalatable items (high-fat, high-sugar).  If you experience frequent food cravings while taking Buspar, understand that cravings might be difficult to resist – and may lead to overeating plus weight gain.

Eating habits: A person’s eating habits might change significantly while using Buspar – from what they were before Buspar was used.  For certain people, if Buspar effectively treats symptoms of anxiety and/or depression, self-esteem may increase along with motivation to plan healthy meals and avoid overeating – which could lead to weight loss.  For other individuals, successful treatment of anxiety and/or depression may lead to increased socialization and “social eating” or going out to eat.

Persons who “go out to eat” frequently because they’ve become more social on Buspar (due to lower anxiety and/or depression), may be prone to significant weight gain.  Moreover, if Buspar induces food cravings and/or alters your perception of taste – these reactions might also affect eating habits.  If you’re gaining or losing weight on Buspar, reflect upon whether your eating habits have changed since the initiation of treatment.

Gastrointestinal reactions: Gastrointestinal reactions such as diarrhea and constipation are documented as common side effects of Buspar – occurring in 1% to 10% of users.  In the event that you experience either diarrhea or constipation as a side effect, these gastrointestinal reactions might be culpable for some of your weight change during treatment.  For example, if you’re experiencing diarrhea and are losing weight – the diarrhea may be fully culpable for the weight loss.

Diarrhea interferes with nutrient absorption and causes the body to excrete foods before they are properly digested and stored as energy – which may lead to weight loss.  Furthermore, diarrhea can dehydrate the body via elimination of water stores, possibly resulting in a modest weight reduction from loss of water weight.  On the other hand, constipation is associated with the accumulation and retention of digested food in the gastrointestinal tract – possibly accounting for a bit of weight gain.

Gut bacteria modulation: Because the effects of Buspar on gut bacteria haven’t been studied, it is unknown as to whether ongoing treatment with Buspar might alter the gut flora.  It’s possible that Buspar might deplete healthy bacteria in the gut and/or allow unhealthy gut bacteria to proliferate – which could increase appetite, bloating, and lead to weight gain.

That said, it’s also possible that Buspar might upregulate healthy gut bacteria and/or reduce pathogenic gut bacteria – which could reduce appetite and lead to weight loss.  It is known that untreated anxiety (and chronic stress) can detrimentally affect gut health, so perhaps treating the anxiety with Buspar could yield favorable changes in gut bacteria composition – possibly leading to normalization of appetite and healthy weight change (among overweight persons).

Hormone alterations: In humans, buspirone at doses of 30 mg, 60 mg, and 90 mg significantly increase concentrations of plasma prolactin and growth hormone.  The increases in prolactin secretion are dose-dependent, but the increase in growth hormone is not contingent upon dose.  Researchers believe that the modulation of dopamine receptors by Buspar may alter activation within the pituitary gland and hypothalamus to increase prolactin and growth hormone secretion.

It is known that increases in plasma prolactin concentrations can cause weight gain, whereas increases in plasma growth hormone levels may modestly reduce body fat (in certain regions like the stomach).  Moreover, it is known that treating anxiety with a medication like Buspar may decrease concentrations of stress hormones like cortisol and glucocorticoids – which might lead to weight change.  If you’re experiencing weight change on Buspar, its effect on the endocrine system could be a contributing factor.

Mood enhancement: A subset of individuals are prescribed Buspar to help alleviate symptoms of depression. (Read: “Buspar for depression“)  If you were severely depressed prior to using Buspar, there’s a chance that the untreated depression might’ve affected your appetite, eating habits, and/or activity level.  In some cases, untreated depression can reduce appetite and caloric intake – leading to weight loss, whereas in other cases, untreated depression can stimulate appetite or trigger binge eating episodes (as a coping mechanism) – leading to weight gain.

In the event that Buspar proves effective in treating depressive symptoms, this might lead to normalization of your appetite, eating habits, and/or activity level.  As a result, you may end up experiencing healthy weight change from the Buspar-mediated mood enhancement: weight loss if depression led you to become overweight OR weight gain if depression led you to become underweight.

Muscle loss & fat storage: There’s a chance that ongoing treatment with Buspar might impact body composition via modification of muscle synthesis and fat storage – which might account for weight change during treatment.  Research suggests that Buspar dose-dependently increases concentrations of prolactin in the body.  High levels of prolactin are understood to reduce fat metabolism, which might lead to increased fat storage and weight gain.

Excessive concentrations of prolactin within the body can also cause muscle loss.  Furthermore, the anxiolytic effect of Buspar might reduce muscle stimulation and cause gradual muscle loss (over an extended duration).  In the event that you lose muscle mass while using Buspar, this could account for some of your weight loss.

Nausea & vomiting:  Nausea and vomiting are documented as common side effects of Buspar, occurring in 1% to 10% of users.  Anyone who experiences nausea and/or vomiting while using Buspar could end up experiencing weight loss as a result of these reactions.  Nausea often suppresses appetite and leads to decreased caloric intake – which could lead to weight loss.

Vomiting interferes with the absorption, digestion, and storage of food – which could also lead to weight loss.  Additionally, vomiting can suppress appetite (leading to decreased caloric intake) and dehydrate the body – each of which can decrease body weight.  If you’ve experienced nausea and/or vomiting as a side effect of Buspar, understand that these side effects may explain your weight loss.

Resting metabolic rate:  Resting metabolic rate refers to the amount of energy your body expends at rest.  It’s reasonable to suspect that the neurophysiologic actions of Buspar could decrease resting metabolic rate in some individuals – which could lead to weight gain.  Buspar might decrease resting metabolic rate by: increasing prolactin (and modulating other hormones); increasing fat storage; decreasing muscle synthesis; and reducing physical activity level of the user (due to side effects like fatigue and somnolence).

Any significant reduction in resting metabolic rate while using Buspar means that the body will burn fewer calories at rest (than it did before Buspar treatment).  Even if the same diet is consumed during treatment (as was consumed before Buspar initiation), a slowing of resting metabolic rate means that more calories will be stored as fat.  If you gain weight while taking Buspar, this weight gain may be due to a slowing of your resting metabolic rate.

Somnolence:  Somnolence (i.e. sleepiness) is a side effect of Buspar that occurs in over 10% of users, and one that may induce weight gain.  If you become drowsy, fatigued, or sleepy while under the influence of Buspar, it’s likely that you’ll engage in less exercise (or less intense exercise) and exhibit less non-exercise activity thermogenesis.

Due to a reduction in physical activity attributable to somnolence, you’ll burn fewer calories (because you’re less active) and your body’s metabolic rate will slow (relative to your weight) – ultimately leading to weight gain.  Additionally, frequent somnolence could lead to unfavorable changes in body composition such as: increased muscle catabolism and fat storage.

Taste changes: A very small percentage individuals (0.1% to 1%) may experience altered taste perception (i.e. dysgeusia) as an uncommon side effect of Buspar.  If the altered taste perception attributable to Buspar is associated with ageusia (loss of taste) or hypogeusia (decreased taste sensitivity), this might lead to decreased food consumption and weight loss.

However, if the altered taste perception attributable to Buspar is associated with taste enhancement, this might lead to increased food consumption and weight gain.  In the event that Buspar substantially alters your taste perception (or the taste of certain foods), understand that this could influence your caloric intake and impact your weight.

Note: It should be emphasized that there might be additional reasons (besides those discussed above) as to why an individual might experience weight change on Buspar.  If you know of any scientifically-validated explanations or would like to speculate possible reasons for weight change on Buspar (based on your personal experience) – report them in the comments.

Buspar & Weight Change (The Research)

As of current, no studies have been conducted to specifically examine effect of Buspar on body weight.  Nonetheless, because side effect data from large-scale Buspar trials did not report weight change as a common reaction – most experts consider Buspar to be a “weight neutral” medication.

According to packaging information associated with Buspar, weight gain and weight loss are considered “infrequent side effects” – estimated as occurring in 0.1% to 1% of users.  In any regard, below are studies in which the effect of Buspar (buspirone) on body weight was reported.

1998: A randomized controlled study of buspirone and valium in the treatment of general anxiety disorder.

Yuanguang, Xiaogang, Chuanyue, et al. conducted a randomized controlled trial investigating buspirone and valium in the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).  This trial recruited a total of 206 participants, each of whom had been diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder.

The participants were assigned at random to receive either buspirone (107 participants) or valium (99 participants).  Researchers utilized the Hamilton Anxiety scale (HAM-A), Clinical Global Impression scale (CGI), and treatment emergent symptoms scale (TESS) – to track the efficacy of each medication, as well as medication side effects.

Results indicated that there were no major differences in the effectiveness of each medication for the treatment of anxiety.  It was noted that while Buspar had a slower onset of therapeutic action than valium – it caused less sedation and zero weight gain.  This study is consistent with preexisting clinical data indicating that Buspar is a weight neutral medication.

1997: Buspirone treatment of anxiety associated with pharyngeal dysphagia in a four-year-old.

Hanna, Feibusch, and Albright published a case report in which buspirone was administered to a 4-year-old boy with a medical history of: laryngomalacia (congenital structural abnormality with airway collapse and obstruction on inhalation), pharyngeal dysphagia (difficulty in swallowing), poor weight gain, delayed self-feeding skills, and anxiety.  A low dose of buspirone was given to the boy, and the dose was slowly increased to 12.5 mg per day over a 22-week span.

Over the 22 weeks, buspirone treatment improved the boy’s: anxiety, feeding behavior, and body weight.  More specifically, buspirone treatment decreased separation and social anxiety – and reduced anxiety associated with food consumption (i.e. eating).  It was noted that buspirone was well-tolerated and maintained its therapeutic efficacy for over a year.

In this case, it is apparent that buspirone was able to decrease anxiety associated with eating.  Because the boy was undereating and underweight due to his anxiety, buspirone treatment facilitated weight gain.  This report suggests that Buspar may help normalize body weight in persons who are underweight as a result of preexisting anxiety.

2014: Buspirone along with melatonin attenuates oxidative damage and anxiety-like behavior in a mouse model of immobilization stress.

Kumar, Kaur, and Rinwa sought to determine the effects of melatonin, buspirone, and their combination against immobilization stress-induced anxiety-like behavior in mice.  Researchers administered either: melatonin (2.5 mg/kg or 5 mg/kg); buspirone (5 mg/kg or 10 mg/kg); or the combination (of melatonin and Buspar) to male Laca mice for 5 consecutive days.

After the 5-day treatment phase, the mice were immobilized for 6 hours to induce stress.  Stress resulting from immobilization significantly reduced body weight, impaired locomotor activity and induced anxiety-like behavior.  The administration of Buspar as a standalone and combination therapy (with melatonin) significantly attenuated: weight change, locomotor impairment, and anxiety-like behaviors – attributable to the immobilization stress.

This study supports the concept that Buspar treatment may protect against anxiety-induced weight loss.  Though the findings of this animal study cannot be generalized to humans (as mice don’t necessarily respond to Buspar the same as humans), the human case report summarized above (with the 4-year-old) supports the idea that buspirone may improve body weight among individuals who are underweight due to unmanaged anxiety.

2013: Evaluation of sesamol and buspirone in stress induced anxiety in mice.

Kumar, Kaur, Kalonia, and Rinwa conducted a study to examine the effect of sesamol, buspirone, and their combination (buspirone plus sesamol) – on mice exposed to immobilization-induced stress.  For the study, researchers divided male Laca mice into 10 groups (of 6 mice) and assigned them to receive either: sesamol (5 mg/kg or 10 mg/kg); buspirone (5 mg/kg or 10 mg/kg); or a combination of sesamol plus buspirone (5 mg/kg or 10 mg/kg).

All mice were treated for 5 days and then immobilized for a 6-hour duration to induce stress.  Results indicated that immobilization-induced stress led to body weight reduction; locomotor impairment; and increased anxiety-like behavior.  The administration of buspirone significantly improved body weight, locomotor activity, and reduced anxiety-like behaviors of the mice.

It was concluded that the administration of buspirone as a standalone or combination therapy (with sesamol) can attenuate immobilization-induced stress and corresponding weight loss.  Although this was an animal study that cannot be generalized to humans, it supports the concept that buspirone treatment might counteract or prevent anxiety-related weight loss.

2009: Both acute and chronic buspirone treatments have different effects on regional 5-HT synthesis in Flinders Sensitive Line rats (a rat model of depression) than in control rats.

Nishi, Kanemaru, Hasegawa, et al. conducted a study to elucidate the effect of buspirone in two groups of Flinders Sensitive Line (FSL) rats: “depressed” (experimental group) and “non-depressed” (control group).  Although researchers primarily sought investigate the effect of acute and chronic buspirone treatment on serotonin (5-HT) synthesis in the rats’ brains – they also documented the effect of buspirone on the rats’ body weights.

Among the rats that received saline – weight gain was 72.2 grams (0.159 lbs.), whereas in the rats that received buspirone – weight gain was 45.5 grams (0.1 lbs.).  This finding indicates that a saline placebo causes more significant weight gain than buspirone and/or that buspirone decreases weight gain compared to a placebo.

While the findings of this study cannot necessarily be generalized to humans, the result is consistent with data from human trials of buspirone suggesting that the medication doesn’t cause any more weight gain than a placebo.  In fact, based on this study result, one might speculate that buspirone treatment might somehow prevent excessive weight gain – especially among those who are prone to stress-induced weight gain.

2005: The effects of fluoxetine and buspirone on self-injurious and stereotypic behavior in adult male rhesus macaques.

Fontenot, Padgett, Dupuy, et al. compared the effects of buspirone and fluoxetine in 15 adult male rhesus macaques (monkeys).  Specifically, researchers sought to determine the effects of these medications on the rates of self-harm and stereotypic behaviors.  All monkeys were given a placebo for 2 weeks followed by either buspirone or fluoxetine for a 12-week span.

Body weights of the monkeys were recorded: before the trial; after the placebo phase; and after the treatment phase.  Results indicated that there was a significant effect of time on body weight.  Body weights of the monkeys significantly increased during the placebo phase, during the treatment phase, as well as during a post-treatment phase.  Both the buspirone and fluoxetine were effective for decreasing self-biting behaviors and self-directed stereotypic behavior (both during and after treatment).

It should be stated that it remains unknown as to whether these monkeys were underweight prior to treatment.  If the monkeys were underweight before treatment due to neuropsychiatric disturbances, then perhaps buspirone and fluoxetine led to favorable changes in body weight and/or composition.  On the other hand, if body weights were normative or overweight before trial initiation – this suggests that buspirone may cause weight gain.

Even though this study was conducted in rhesus macaque monkeys with abnormal behavior (suggestive of neuropsychiatric disorders), it is impossible to know whether buspirone was specifically culpable for a significant amount of weight gain – and if so, whether this weight gain was a favorable shift to a healthier weight (due to attenuation of neuropsychiatric symptoms) OR an unfavorable body weight increase (stemming from the medication’s impact on physiology).

Moreover, it’s worth stating that this was a relatively small-scale trial (with just 15 macaque monkeys – all of which were male), hence its results may not accurately represent the effect of buspirone on weight (in a larger sample with greater diversity).  Though we cannot generalize the results of this study to humans, this study showcases the concept that buspirone treatment could cause weight gain.

According to the research: Does Buspar cause weight gain or weight loss?

Many studies have been conducted to examine incidence rates of side effects associated with Buspar (buspirone) administered at clinically-relevant doses.  None of these studies have reported significant weight change (gain or loss) as a side effect of Buspar.  A randomized controlled trial by Yuanguang et al. (1998) specifically stated that zero significant weight change occurred as a side effect in 107 Buspar users.

FDA Access Data for the medication Buspar cites both “weight gain” and “weight loss” as being infrequent side effects.  Infrequent side effects are classified as side effects that occur in 0.1% to 1% of users.  This means that, less than 1 in 100 Buspar users will experience clinically-significant weight change (gain or loss), characterized by at least 7% body weight increase or decrease from baseline, as a side effect of treatment.

Moreover, human case reports and animal studies suggest that Buspar treatment may attenuate stress-induced or anxiety-induced weight loss and/or an underweight BMI.  In other words, among persons who: find it difficult to eat, lose weight, and/or are underweight as a result of anxiety – Buspar may counteract the anxiety, which might improve appetite and body weight.

Though there might be some limitations associated with the research of Buspar side effects (particularly weight change) such as: duration of trials, Buspar dosing, medical diagnoses, confounding factors, etc. – data from all available trials are currently unanimous in suggesting that Buspar is a “weight neutral” medication.  In summary, the research indicates that Buspar shouldn’t cause significant weight gain or weight loss.

Variables that influence Buspar-mediated weight change

There are many variables that could influence whether someone experiences weight change on Buspar.  Furthermore, if weight change is experienced, these variables could also influence the significance of that change.  Some variables that likely influence Buspar-mediated weight change include: Buspar dosage; length of Buspar treatment; concurrent substance use; prior substance use; baseline body weight; lifestyle; and genetics.

  1. Buspar dosage

The exact dose of Buspar that you administer on a daily basis could influence whether you experience weight change throughout treatment.  Although research suggests that Buspar is unlikely to cause weight change at clinically-relevant doses, it is understood that high doses of Buspar modulate the user’s physiology to a greater significant extent than lower doses.

Among those who are prone to weight change from Buspar, it’s possible that a high dose could amplify the underlying physiological mechanisms culpable for the change – and augment the significance of the change.  For example, if someone gains weight from 7.5 mg Buspar per day due to prolactin secretion, then increasing the dose to 15 mg Buspar per day could further increase the prolactin secretion – and cause greater weight gain (than the smaller dose).

Another example could be that 7.5 mg Buspar suppresses your appetite – leading to weight loss, and the appetite suppression is amplified after increasing to a 15 mg dose – such that you eat even less and lose more weight (at the higher dose).  That said, some individuals may respond to lower doses differently than higher doses (such that one causes weight gain – and the other causes weight loss).

  1. Length of Buspar treatment

The amount of time over which you’ve been using Buspar could impact whether you experience weight change, and if so, the significance of that change.  In some cases, new Buspar users (or persons who’ve only used the medication for a short duration) may notice transient fluctuations in body weight partly due to short-term side effects stemming from a lack of CNS adaptation to the medication.

Because the CNS hasn’t fully adapted to the regular presence of Buspar, side effects like constipation, diarrhea, nausea, and/or vomiting may occur with greater frequency and/or intensity in the short-term and account for transient changes in body weight.  That said, it’s also possible that Buspar might cause modest weight change in the short-term – followed by weight stabilization (or no additional change) in the long-term.

Moreover, for some Buspar users, weight changes might be nonexistent or insignificant in the short-term, yet substantial and/or noticeable in the long-term – possibly due to long-term physiologic effects of Buspar in conjunction with dosage increases.  If you’ve experienced weight change from Buspar, treatment length may have played a role.

  1. Concurrent substance use

If you’re taking other substances along with Buspar and have experienced weight change, it’s possible that these concurrent substances could be fully responsible for your weight change (rather than Buspar).  For example, if you’re using an SSRI antidepressant with Buspar, it’s possible that the antidepressant is what’s causing your weight gain – and you’ve mistakenly assumed that the weight gain was from Buspar.

It’s also possible that a concurrently-administered substance might augment a subset of physiologic effects induced by Buspar to synergistically enhance weight change.  For example, if Buspar causing weight gain as a result of increasing prolactin secretion, and then you add another medication to your regimen that further increases prolactin, this will likely exacerbate your weight gain.

That said, concurrent administration of a substance that offsets a subset of effects induced by Buspar – might prevent Buspar-mediated weight change.  For example, if Buspar is causing somnolence that leads to weight gain, then the concurrent use of a stimulatory agent like caffeine may prevent weight gain by offsetting the somnolence.

  1. Prior substance use (before Buspar)

If you have a history of using substances (e.g. medications, supplements, etc.) prior to the initiation of Buspar treatment, there’s a chance that your prior substance use could account for the weight change that you notice while using Buspar.  Persons who used substances (before Buspar) that caused significant weight gain may end up experiencing weight loss while taking Buspar, whereas individuals who used substances (before Buspar) that caused significant weight loss may end up gaining weight while using Buspar – even if these weight changes aren’t attributable to Buspar.

As a hypothetical example, let’s say you used a psychostimulant medication like Adderall before Buspar treatment and lost 20 lbs.  Now, let’s say you discontinue Adderall and begin taking Buspar.  While using Buspar, you may end up gaining weight – and mistakenly attribute this weight gain to Buspar, when in reality, the weight gain is a result of your physiology transitioning back to homeostasis following discontinuation of Adderall, a medication associated with weight loss.

Another hypothetical example could involve the use of an antipsychotic medication like Zyprexa before Buspar.  Let’s say that you gain 30 lbs. while taking Zyprexa, you discontinue Zyprexa, and then initiate treatment with Buspar.  In this case, you may end up losing weight – and mistakenly attribute the weight loss to Buspar, when in reality, the weight loss is a byproduct of your physiology reverting back to homeostasis following discontinuation of Zyprexa, a medication associated with weight gain.

  1. Pre-treatment body weight

A person’s body weight prior to using Buspar might determine whether he/she experiences weight change while taking Buspar.  Certain individuals may be grossly overweight or underweight prior to Buspar treatment, possibly due to untreated anxiety and/or depression.  Assuming Buspar is capable of effectively attenuating the anxiety and/or depression that caused and/or aided in the maintenance of an abnormally high or low body weight, then healthy (and potentially significant) weight change should be expected during treatment.

For example, if someone doesn’t eat much food as a result of high anxiety (and ends up underweight), then healthy weight gain may occur from Buspar treatment if the medication effectively mitigates the anxiety that interfered with food intake.  Oppositely, if someone overeats or binges as a means of coping with high anxiety (and ends up overweight), then healthy weight loss may occur from Buspar treatment if the medication effectively counteracts the anxiety that led to overeating.

Essentially, individuals who are excessively overweight or underweight as the result of a preexisting neuropsychiatric disorder may have an easy time reverting back to a healthy weight once symptoms of the disorder are managed with Buspar.  For a subset of Buspar users this may mean weight loss, whereas for others it may mean weight gain.

  1. Lifestyle & genetics

The combination of a Buspar user’s lifestyle and genetics might determine whether weight change occurs in treatment.  In terms of lifestyle, someone who makes a concerted effort to live healthily while taking Buspar may be less prone or protected against unwanted weight change during treatment than someone who puts forth no effort to engage in healthy habits.

Hypothetically, let’s assume that Person #1 carefully monitors his/her caloric intake and exercises regularly while using Buspar, whereas Person #2 overeats and never exercises during treatment.  In this case, the first person will be at lower risk of experiencing unexpected weight change during treatment, but the second individual may end up gaining a lot of weight (and this gain may be solely attributable to lifestyle – rather than the medication).

Additionally, it’s possible that expressing (or lacking) certain genes might increase one’s risk of experiencing weight change while using Buspar.  It’s reasonable to speculate that certain genes could: increase likelihood of weight gain; likelihood of weight loss; or minimize likelihood of weight change – among Buspar users.

Potential ways to minimize Buspar-related weight change

According to medical literature, most Buspar users will not experience clinically significant weight change from the medication.  Nevertheless, if you gain or lose weight while taking Buspar and/or want to minimize further weight change, consider implementing some of the weight management strategies discussed below.  Before testing any of the weight management strategies below, contact a medical doctor to verify that they’re safe in accordance with your present medical status.

  1. Calorie & exercise adjustments: Most people who report weight change (gain or loss) while using pharmaceutical medications like Buspar – never track their caloric intakes or activity level. If you don’t track calories or activity, it’ll be difficult to know whether any weight change you experience while using Buspar is attributable to the medication OR random fluctuations in dietary intake and exercise.  For example, if you’re gaining unwanted weight during treatment, perhaps it’s because you began consuming a greater number of calories and/or cut back on exercise (compared to pre-treatment).  By tracking and adjusting your caloric intake and activity, you should be able to deliberately: gain weight, lose weight, or maintain weight – while using Buspar.
  2. Buspar dose titration: Unwanted weight change while using Buspar might be partly attributable to the dose that’s administered. Because high doses of Buspar modulate physiology more significantly than lower doses, high dose users may be at increased risk of weight change as a side effect – than low dose users.  If you’re experiencing unwanted weight change on Buspar, you may want to work with your doctor to find the “minimal effective dose” – or lowest dose of Buspar needed to attenuate neuropsychiatric symptoms.  By using the lowest effective dose, the risk of side effects like weight change should decrease.
  3. Treat side effects (causing weight change): Identifying and treating side effects that are culpable for weight change – could help prevent unwanted weight gain or weight loss in treatment. As is known, common side effects of Buspar such as: constipation, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting – can lead to weight gain or weight loss.  For example, if you experience frequent bouts of diarrhea while taking Buspar, the diarrhea may interfere with food absorption and calorie storage – ultimately causing weight loss.  In this case, treating the diarrhea with the use of an antidiarrheal agent (e.g. Imodium) might counteract the unwanted weight loss.
  4. Add/Remove adjunct substances: Persons who use adjunct substances along with Buspar (e.g. medications, supplements, etc.) could be experiencing weight change as a result of those substances. If you’re dissatisfied with your weight change, consider discontinuing all medically-unnecessary substances.  By discontinuing all substances that aren’t required for the management of medical conditions, you may notice that your body weight gradually normalizes.  However, if you aren’t using any adjunct substances, you may want to ask a medical doctor about adding another substance to your regimen for the prevention or reversal of unwanted weight change on Buspar.
  5. Continue using Buspar: If you’ve only been using Buspar for a short-term, it’s possible that the weight change you’ve experienced is transient or temporary. With continued Buspar administration over a longer-term, your weight may eventually normalize as your body becomes better-adapted to the ongoing effect of the medication.  Moreover, if you’ve experienced short-term weight change, understand that this weight change may have already plateaued such that no additional change will occur over a longer-term.  For this reason, you might want to give Buspar a longer-term trial before concluding that it substantially alters your weight.

Note: If the strategies described above aren’t useful for preventing or reducing Buspar-induced weight change, and you dislike the weight change you’ve experienced while using Buspar – tell a medical doctor.  Unfavorable weight change (gain or loss) may require some users to undergo Buspar withdrawal and/or switch to another medication.

Have you gained or lost weight from Buspar?

If you’ve used Buspar for a moderate duration, leave a comment noting whether you’ve experienced weight change that you believe is attributable to the medication.  Document the approximate amount of weight gain or weight loss that you experienced while taking Buspar – and discuss whether you perceive the weight change as being favorable (i.e. healthy) or unfavorable (i.e. unhealthy).

Furthermore, if your weight change has been significant while using Buspar, brainstorm some potential causes of your weight change such as: medication side effects; hormone alterations; food cravings; etc.  To help others get an accurate understanding of your personal situation, report: your Buspar dose; the amount of time you’ve used Buspar; and whether you use other substances (e.g. medications, supplements, etc.) with Buspar.

If you use other substances with Buspar, have you considered that these substances might account for some of (or all of) the weight change you’ve experienced?  Additionally, have you tracked your caloric intake and physical activity before and during Buspar to ensure that your weight change on the medication isn’t simply because you’ve unintentionally altered your diet or exercise habits?

In summary, although weight change can occur among Buspar users as a side effect – it’s relatively rare.  Most experts consider Buspar to be a “weight neutral” medication such that it is unlikely to cause weight gain or weight loss.

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