antidepressants and weight gain

With waistlines increasing across the globe, the race is on to find the cause and the cure. Many fingers are pointing at this or that; some rightly, some not so much. 

One evidence-based fact is that long term antidepressant use is associated with weight gain. A study of more than 280,000 people comparing those taking antidepressants with those that didn’t, found an increased likelihood of weight gain among those taking the prescription medication.

‘Weight gain’ was defined as more than 5% of the person’s initial weight. And the rate at which study participants moved from normal to weight to overweight, or from overweight to obese remained the same.

With the rate of antidepressant prescription roughly doubling between 2005 and 2011 in both the UK and the USA, more and more people may be faced with this aspect of their health. And gaining weight may in turn further contribute to a declining mental state and greater need for antidepressants. It could be a very unhealthy downward spiral.

In addition, the purely physical negative health impacts of carrying extra weight can be disastrous.

I think it’s relevant to include likely weight gain in the list of potential side effects when someone is initially prescribed antidepressants.

It’s not just the effect to the person that’s worth consider here either. The long term economic impact of a population with increasing weight, is a cost the Australian community just cannot bear.

Read the study here.


Dr Carmen Hunwardsen owns and operates Carmen’s Spinal Care, a busy North Brisbane chiropractic clinic in Everton Hills.