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How to Counter Weight Gain from Antidepressants

Studies show that up to 25% of people taking antidepressants gain weight, at least ten pounds, while on the medication. Here are some ways to combat weight gain from antidepressants.

How Antidepressants Put the Weight on

Doctors haven’t pinned down a specific reason why antidepressants can cause weight gain. Many experts suspect the drugs have an effect on metabolism, slowing the process that allows you to burn your food as energy before it becomes fat. Others point to psychiatric reasons, citing that an increase in well-being often leads to an increase in appetite. Some patients lose weight or maintain a lower weight due to their depression, and antidepressants remove that mental block against robust eating. Or, as life itself becomes more pleasurable, so does food.  

Switching or Reducing Medications

There are options to consider if you want to avoid anti-depressant triggered weight gain. One is to consider switching medications. The most popularly prescribed drugs, called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, are also some of the ones most associated with weight gain. There are antidepressant medications available that are not strongly associated with weight gain, but they are not as commonly prescribed.

Among the more weight-friendly drugs are prescriptions called Nefazodone, Venlafaxine, Duloxetine and Bupropion. Effexor, Serzone and Wellbutrin are more familiar names that have less incidences of weight gain, although many who take them still claim to put on pounds. Not all antidepressants work for all people, and there is a chance more figure-friendly drugs will not provide you with psychiatric help.

If you are concerned about weight gain, ask your doctor if a different class of antidepressants might work for you. Another option is to discuss the possibility of reducing the medication to the minimal effective dose. The lessening of the dose might also lessen the side-effects, including weight gain.

Antidote Medications

There are medications that can be prescribed to people taking antidepressants to medically counteract the tendency of weight gain. These antidote drugs often have serious side effects, and there is much controversy as to their actual efficacy. The field of these drugs is fast moving. Your doctor will be able to tell you the latest information and safety issues surrounding weight-gain antidote medication. Do not use traditional over-the-counter diet pills to fight weight gain from anti-depressants without consulting a doctor. Many weight-loss pills can have dangerous to fatal interactions with prescription antidepressants.

Diet and Exercise

This is the least complicated and perhaps, most unpopular option for combating the weight gain associated with antidepressants. It is also one of the most efficient. No matter what the cause of the weight gain, the basic formula for weight loss remains. Expend more calories than you consume. Even the smallest amount of exercise, as simple as a walk to the mailbox, can have positive effect. Exercise is not just useful for combating weight gain, but has also been proven to have anti-depressant effects of its own.

Although the benefit of taking the proper antidepressant can be much greater than the detriment of weight gain, excess fat is never a healthy option. Consider raising your level of physical activity before seeking out medical intervention. Exercise is the still the safest, cheapest way to instigate weight loss, no matter what the circumstance.

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