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What Is the Connection between Fluoxetine and Weight Gain?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 17, 2024
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In roughly 1 percent of users, fluoxetine, an antidepressant principally used in the treatment of depressive and anxiety disorders, is thought to cause weight gain. The matter is more complex when the numerous clinical findings about fluoxetine and weight gain are considered. For example, there are a number of studies connecting the drug to weight loss. Additionally, it is often thought that weight gain or loss is more related to behaviors associated with the conditions the drug treats and recovery from them.

Many antidepressants are associated with weight gain. The ones most like to cause increased weight do not usually belong to the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) class, of which fluoxetine is a member. One exception is the drug, paroxetine, which is an SSRI. Most of the other antidepressants known for weight gain are older types such as amitriptyline, mirtazapine, and trazodone. Even with these medications, gaining weight is a possible adverse effect, but it isn't assured, and some patients will use them without weight troubles.

Sometimes individuals are worried about fluoxetine and weight gain because they think of all antidepressants as causing elevated weight in a high number of users. This perception is incorrect, and it's harmful. Fear of gaining weight should not stop people from treating depression or anxiety disorders.

Serotonin is also thought to inhibit appetite and SSRIs may be beneficial in this respect. Certainly, for some people fluoxetine and weight gain aren't connected at all, and the drug may cause weight loss. It has even been prescribed in higher amounts with antipsychotic medications that are typically associated with pronounced increases in weight. This has been done to prevent weight gain, and studies have found it effective.

One explanation for the fluoxetine and weight gain correlation has to do with the conditions the drug treats. A potential symptom of depression is sudden, unexplained weight loss, and many anxiety disorders suppress appetite. Fluoxetine may improve these conditions and return people to a normal appetite. This can cause slight gain in weight. This gain ordinarily doesn't significantly elevate measurements of body mass index (BMI), and is usually not concerning in a patient with a healthy starting BMI.

Depression may also result in lack of energy to exercise. These patterns may persist with recovery. Alternately, fluoxetine, which isn't always effective, may not alleviate depression and poor eating and exercise habits could remain unaddressed. If patients are relatively inactive and they eat high sugar and high fat foods, the likelihood of gaining weight on fluoxetine is higher. Depression and anxiety can also cause insomnia, which has been correlated to larger waistlines and unhealthy BMI measurements.

The best advice for someone worried about fluoxetine and weight gain is to discuss this matter with a physician. The majority of people taking this drug will not experience this side effect. Still, if the drug is prescribed, it is important to commit to a healthy diet and regular exercise, as this may help prevent weight increases.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen , Writer
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.

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Tricia Christensen

Tricia Christensen


With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia...
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