Were you recently prescribed Lexapro and then discovered that one of the most common side effects is weight gain? Wondering how Lexapro weight gain will affect your mental well-being and the illness you are trying to treat?
Although Lexapro is a drug that can cause you to put on some extra weight, it is quite possible to manage its effects on your weight if you know how to apply some tips to help you lead a healthy life. It’s all about your lifestyle.
To learn all about Lexapro weight gain, how to manage it, why it occurs, and the remedies to apply, read this article as an in-depth guide.
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Lexapro Weight Gain
Side effects are significant when deciding which antidepressant to use for your illness. Whenever a patient is prescribed a previously unknown drug, one of the first things they want to learn is how this treatment will affect their lives outside of putting them on a path to fix their mental well-being condition.
One of the most extensive concerns of patients prescribed antidepressants is whether the drug affects their weight. Accepting and tolerating a prescription can be somewhat challenging if a drug has a high risk of weight gain.
Research conducted in 2010 wanted to observe how much escitalopram (like Lexapro) made patients add weight compared to the drug class nortriptyline. The study was undertaken on 630 adults by recording their measurements for varying periods of up to twenty-six weeks. The research subjects were put through treatments with escitalopram and nortriptyline. The study showed that while escitalopram did cause weight change, it was very little compared with the weight gain nortriptyline caused.
Why Does Lexapro Increase the Risk of Gaining Weight?
Lexapro is an antidepressant that falls in the drug class of SSRIs. This class of medications tends to cause weight increase. But the level of weight increase caused by each SSRI varies.
Putting on extra weight can be bothersome as it affects your mental and physical health. It may seem like a small sacrifice when the goal is to treat depression, anxiety disorder, or any other illnesses treated by Lexapro, but it’s still something to be prepared for.
Many experts still debate the reason why SSRIs cause weight increase. Theories suggest that it is the result of alterations in metabolism with the drug use that make it slow down and burn fewer calories or the fact that it may increase your appetite and lead you to overeat.
Another reason suggested is that while in depression, some people reduce weight because of their mood. But when they start taking antidepressants that lead to a better life overall, they regain their appetite and start eating more. In turn, this results in putting on extra pounds that you lost in the beginning when you weren’t on any treatment for your mental well-being.
Can Antidepressants Cause Loss of Weight?
While the research was usually conducted to detect whether antidepressants cause patients to gain rather than reduce weight, most studies investigating antidepressants association with weight fluctuation in the short term usually resulted in moderate weight increase. Therefore, some are also curious if antidepressants can cause loss of weight.
A 2019 research suggested that the only antidepressant that causes weight reduction was bupropion. Widely known by the brand names Aplenzin and Wellbutrin, bupropion is a standard antidepressant treatment that changes chemical levels in the brain. However, it falls under the “atypical” category, which means it doesn’t fall under the SSRIs drug class as Lexapro does.
Bupropion is also prescribed for smoking cessation as it reduces nicotine cravings. A 2016 study found that people being treated with bupropion would lose around 7 pounds more than those who were prescribed other antidepressants. However, the weight reduction effect was only discovered in those who didn’t smoke. The study was conducted for two years.
So, while there are very few antidepressants that cause weight reduction, weight increase with antidepressant use is much more common. Therefore, those with weight problems could ask their doctor if bupropion would be a better option for them with their treatment.
Drug Classes and Specific Antidepressants That Cause Increase in Weight
There are a variety of drug classes of antidepressants that cause various levels of weight increase. Below are some of the drugs that fit into this category:
1. Tricyclic Antidepressants
Also known as cyclic antidepressants and TCAs, these drugs include:
- · Nortriptyline (Pamelor)
- · İmipramine (Tofranil-PM)
- · Protriptyline (Vivactil)
- · Amitriptyline (Elavil)
- · Desipramine (Norpramin)
- · Doxepin (Adapin)
- · Amoxapine
- · Trimipramine (Surmontil)
TCAs were among the first commonly prescribed antidepressants. However, they aren’t used so often these days because there are new drugs that treat what TCAs used to treat that also come with much fewer side effects.
2. Specific Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs)
First-class antidepressants that were developed, some monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), are among those that might cause weight increase. These are:
- · İsocarboxazid (Marplan)
- · Phenelzine (Nardil)
- · Tranylcypromine (Parnate)
According to research conducted in 1988, from the three we counted above, Phenelzine is the most likely to make patients gain weight.
3. Certain Atypical Antidepressants
Although less likely to cause weight gain when compared with TCAs, Mirtazapine is an atypical antidepressant that was recurrently found to be the reason for weight increase.
Mirtazapine also comes with many other side effects, some of which are:
- · Sexual dysfunction,
- · Nausea
- · Vomiting
4. Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)
Treatments that last more than six months are named “long-term treatments.” Long-term use of specific SSRIs, most commonly prescribed antidepressants, take the lead when answering the question, “which antidepressants cause weight increase?”
There is a varying degree of weight increase SSRIs cause, but the ones that cause the most can be counted as follows:
- · Fluoxetine (Prozac)
- · Paroxetine (Paxil, Pexeva, Brisdelle)
- · Citalopram (Celexa)
- · Sertraline (Zoloft)
When drugs in the above list are considered individually, Paroxetine is the one that causes the most weight increase both in short and long-term use.
Compared with all the drugs on this list, escitalopram Lexapro has a lesser chance of causing weight increase. Not a non-existent chance and one to be ignored, but comparatively much less than the ones listed above.
Lexapro Weight Gain and Loss
SSRIs are predicted to affect your appetite and indirectly cause weight gain in most patients. Lexapro is one of them.
Lexapro is usually associated with weight gain rather than weight loss. The important note is that it isn’t regarded among the SSRIs that cause the most weight gain; instead, gaining weight on Lexapro is moderate. Of course, this doesn’t mean a weight loss effect can be expected with Lexapro treatment. However, it can at least be said that the possibility of maintaining your healthy weight while on Lexapro exists.
Managing Your Weight While Taking SSRIs
Avoiding weight increases while taking SSRIs is possible if you have a healthy lifestyle. Some essential tips can help you manage your weight while taking SSRIs.
· Focus on the quality of foods and how you choose to eat them. The Mediterranean diet is deemed the healthiest, and eating your meals while seated at a table, having company, and chewing your food slowly and mindfully will elevate your experience.
· Making emotional eating a thing of the past will help immensely. Eating for gratification, out of boredom, or overeating to punish yourself can lead to a dual diagnosis (if you aren’t already diagnosed with one) related to eating disorders.
· Research to see if any weight loss medicine can help you. If there is any that your doctor can advise, it might be beneficial to try it out.
Anyone on an antidepressant should never forget that taking your meds is very important. The side effects of potential weight increase shouldn’t be focused on, but if you can’t help but worry about it, the tips above can help you.
Exercising While on Lexapro
Physical activity guidelines for Americans suggest that a minimum of 150 minutes of physical activity per week is a need for every adult.
Exercising can be crucial when you are on an antidepressant like Lexapro. It can also reduce stress and anxiety and improve your sleep.
Dividing 150 minutes into slices that suit your lifestyle can also be easy. For example, taking 30-minute walks five days a week can fulfill this need.
Based on the broader philosophy of mindfulness, mindful eating has been widespread for centuries and is used in many religions. It focuses on your thoughts and feelings about food, eating experiences, and body-related sensations with heightened awareness in a judgment-free context.
With mindful eating, you choose your foods with much attention by using your external and internal cues and your responses to them as your guide.
A 2014 research conducted with 309 participants showed a significant positive relationship between overall mental well-being and mindful eating. With mindful eating, the aim is to feel more joy while eating and deeply sense the environment of the experience.
- Expresses gratitude for food,
- Considers meal in a bigger picture and focuses on diverse aspects like the origins of where it came from, the people who prepared it, and the conditions it was prepared in,
- Pays attention to how our bodies react to the food in terms of the smells, looks, tastes, and feelings they bring up,
- Notices which external and internal cues determine the amount of food we eat,
- Gives importance to how the body feels post-meal,
- Might add in meditation or breathing after or before eating,
- May use deep breathing or meditation before or after the meal,
- Consider the effect of our food choices on the local and global environment.
Mindful eating is a great tool to help you manage weight change with antidepressant use by listening to what your body says and how it reacts to what you eat.
Healthy Eating on Antidepressants
Nutrient-dense foods can play a significant role in boosting your antidepressant treatment with their natural antidepressant qualities. A study conducted in 2018 found twelve antidepressant nutrients related to the prevention and treatment of depressive disorders. These were counted as:
- Vitamin C,
- Vitamin B6 and B12,
- Long-chain omega-3 fatty acids (DHA and EPA),
The foods which scored highest for their antidepressant nutrient content were bivalves like mussels and oysters, organ meats for animal foods, and various seafood. The highest-scoring plant foods were lettuces, cruciferous vegetables, peppers, and leafy greens for those who would opt for vegetarian or vegan options.
Mental health is highly affected by our food choices. Choosing healthy eating by avoiding a Westernized diet based on fast food, processed meat, and carbohydrates and taking the Mediterranean route can help.
Tips to Avoid the Extra Weight
Some tips you can apply to your life will help you avoid Lexapro weight gain. You can follow the following information:
1. Watch Your Sodium Intake
Processed, fast, and canned foods lead the parade in sodium content. So watch out and refrain from consuming these three categories.
2. Eat potassium-rich foods frequently
To decrease your sodium intake, make potassium-rich food your close friend. Beets, potatoes, black beans, bananas, avocado, edamame, spinach, and coconut water can be a few.
3. Try Intermittent Fasting
Also known to be a fantastic tip to decrease insulin levels, intermittent fasting is one of the most extensive and efficient ways to maintain or lose weight. Start small with the most essential 16-8, and work up to what your doctor sees fit when you are on Lexapro.
4. Consult A Medical Professional About Alternatives
If you have difficulty managing the weight gain you experience with SSRIs, ask if you can switch to an antidepressant that doesn’t have this side effect. For example, you might be advised to take a different path and be prescribed bupropion Wellbutrin instead.
5. Increase The Quality of Your Sleep
Sleeping less than 5.5 hours a day increased daily energy intake, carbohydrate, fat, and protein intake in a 2020 study. Therefore, quality sleep is necessary for anyone on any steroids for their condition.
Steroid use is found to come with the side effect of a quality decrease in sleep. This, in turn, increases the appetite for sugary foods as patients feel the need for the energy they provide.
How Much Weight Increase is Normal on Lexapro?
A study conducted with 22610 participants in 2014 concluded that patients prescribed Lexapro typically gain less than 0.5 of their body weight using this antidepressant.
Young men with a low body mass index before the treatment were the group who put on the most weight compared with other groups in the same study.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Any dose of Lexapro can cause a weight increase. But preventing it is possible. You can check some prevention tips above.
Lexapro withdrawal usually causes weight loss instead of weight increase. This stems from the fact that patients who discontinue their Lexapro treatment can experience loss in appetite, therefore eat less, and gradually lose some weight.
Although still debated and uncertain, theories suggest that antidepressants slow your metabolism and make it harder to burn calories. Thus, end up being the reason why you add more weight.
The second theory regarding antidepressant weight gain is that it increases your appetite. Increased appetite makes the patients eat more and be prone to putting on extra weight.
Thankfully not. According to a 2014 study, weight gained with antidepressants is usually lost within a year after the treatment.
Get Treatment Today With Doctor Alexa
Weight increase when on a mental health treatment could create even further depression symptoms if you had been struggling with weight problems before being prescribed Lexapro. You will require additional caution and taking stricter measures to reach higher standards for your health.
At Doctoralexa, we are here to help you make things easier. Our assistance makes reaching out for medical help relatively easy and accessible.
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