These popular antidepressants cause the most weight gain: Harvard research

In a recent study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, it was found that certain antidepressants carry a higher risk of weight gain compared to others. The study, conducted by the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute (HPHCI), analyzed the weights of over 183,000 adult antidepressant users six months, a year, and two years after they started taking the drugs.

The study found that users of Lexapro, Paxil, and Cymbalta were 10% to 15% more likely to gain at least 5% of their starting weight compared to Zoloft consumers at the six-month mark. Prozac was not associated with a six-month weight change, while Wellbutrin users were 15% less likely to experience a 5% weight gain. Wellbutrin continued to be associated with the least weight gain at the one- and two-year marks.

The findings come amid growing antidepressant use, especially among young adults and teens. One study found that about 14% of US adults take an antidepressant. The HPHCI researchers noted that people often stop using the drug if they experience weight gain.

The researchers credited Wellbutrin’s ability to increase levels of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain, which improve wakefulness and alertness, for its association with the least weight gain. The drug, used to treat depression and seasonal affective disorder and help people stop smoking, has also been shown to stimulate the central melanocortin system, which regulates appetite, energy balance, and body weight.

In summary, the study found that Lexapro, Paxil, Cymbalta, Effexor, Celexa, and Zoloft (baseline) had a greater risk of at least 5% weight gain at six months of use compared to Prozac and Wellbutrin, which were associated with the least weight gain at all three time points. Clinicians and patients can use this information, among other factors, to help decide on the right choice for them when choosing an antidepressant.

.st1{display:none}See more