How to Choose the Best Antidepressant for Weight Loss

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Millions of people in the United States are diagnosed as having anxiety or depressive disorders. Symptomatic relief often comes in the form of prescription antidepressant medications. Unfortunately, many patients soon find that physiological effects of some formulations lead to undesired weight gain. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs are especially noted for this particular side effect. Studies estimate that 25 percent of the patients using SSRIs experience a weight gain of 10 or more pounds. However, fluvoxamine or Luvox is a SSRI that does not cause weight gain or loss. The antidepressant fluoxetine or Prozac is actually equated with weight loss. There are many other antidepressant drugs that do not affect weight.


Also known as Wellbutrin, the medication belongs to the class of drugs referred to as norepinephrine-dopamine reuptake inhibitors or NDRIs. The pharmaceuticals act by inhibiting the brain from breaking down and reabsorbing dopamine and norepinephrine. Dopamine is responsible for many different cognitive and physical functions while also acting as the body's natural pain reliever. Norephinephrine is a natural stimulant. The average number of patients taking the pharmaceutical lose up to five pounds.

In addition to mental disorders, physicians sometimes prescribe bupropion for obese patients having difficulty losing weight. The medication effectively suppresses appetite and boosts metabolism. With increased energy levels, overweight individuals are more inclined to become more physically active and lose weight. Some of the weight loss experienced may be due to the side effect of nausea and subsequent loss of appetite.


The newer of the SNRIs or serotonin norephinephrine reuptake inhibitors. This category of antidepressants are reportedly neutral when it comes to gaining or losing weight. Many patients using these pharmaceuticals remain at their previous weight. However, on average, patients may lose one or two pounds. Some report experiencing significant weight loss and others complain of weight gain. Prescribed as a weight loss aid, the medication sibutramine is actually one of the SNRI pharmaceuticals.

Weight loss attributed to the medications may be a combination of the prolonged presence of the stimulant norephinephrine and the side effect of diarrhea. In addition to regulating mood, serotonin plays a major role in appetite control and satiety. The SNRIs help prevent food cravings or the impulse to eat excessively. Other medications in the SNRI family include:

• Cymbalta-duloxetine
• Pristiq-desvenlafaxine
• Savella-milnaciprain

Weight Gain Prevention

Regardless of the type of antidepressant medication used, health care providers advise that along with modifying eating habits, increasing physical activity prevents unwanted weight gain and offers a greater possibility of losing weight. With the symptoms of mood disorders controlled, patients naturally feel more inclined to be more physically active, which may be the major reason why patients taking certain antidepressants maintain or lose weight.

Cite this page: N., Sam M.S., "How to Choose the Best Antidepressant for Weight Loss," in, February 18, 2016, (accessed October 4, 2022).