Antidepressant weight loss?
September 20, 2010 12:37 PM   Subscribe

My fiancee, who is 5' 3" and used to weigh about 125 pounds, has recently lost her appetite and I'm starting to worry about her. In the past six months she has lost 10-15 pounds and is never hungry. Although she never ate much to begin with, I have noticed a big decline in how much she now eats. She also seems to be sleeping excessively and doesn't have much energy. I know that she recently started taking Celexa to treat anxiety, but could it really cause such drastic changes? Are there any alternatives that she could ask her doctor about?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (17 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Get a thyroid check.
posted by ducktape at 12:43 PM on September 20, 2010

I've lost almost 30 pounds since I started taking Celexa 5 1/2 months ago and for a while I was sleeping a lot more as well.

How much is she taking? My doc wanted to up me to 60mg, but that made me extremely groggy, and my online research found that there is no statistically significant improvement in mood in people taking 60mg over people taking 40mg, but for me personally there was a huge increase in unpleasant side effects.

Drinking a lot of water to help keep everything moving through my kidneys helps mitigate the grogginess, I've found.
posted by Jacqueline at 12:48 PM on September 20, 2010

I know someone who experienced exactly the same symptoms after starting on Celexa, so I think you've identified the culprit. I think your fiancee should consult with her psychiatrist and her physician. There are lots of anti-anxiety meds out there; Celexa may just not be the best one for her.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:49 PM on September 20, 2010

Another vote that these are probably side effects of the Celexa. If she feels it is impacting her lifestyle, she should talk to her doctor about trying a different anti-depressent. Sometimes trial and error is the only way to find a drug that works for you. Lexapro is the same active ingredient as Celexa but only the bio-active enantiomer so that might be something to ask the doctor about. Personally, I'm much happier on Welbutrin, but that has other side effects including some that may affect your sex life.

That said, I just want to emphasize that if she is comfortable with the side effects, then you may just have to adjust to some of the new behaviors. (Maybe she didn't really get enough sleep before!) Or there may be behavioral changes that she'll have to make in addition to the drugs. But going to the doctor to change medications should be HER decision. I appreciate that you are worried and trying to help, but besides making her aware of the changes in her behavior, this needs to be something she acts on.
posted by maryr at 1:07 PM on September 20, 2010

i've taken many ssri medications; celexa, zoloft, lexapro and others. they're notorious for weight loss side effects. ssri medications are super tricky, and personally i've never had a good experience with any of them.
posted by thistle at 1:09 PM on September 20, 2010

If she has a small frame, maybe the 10-15 lbs was extra weight. How does she feel about it? Does she think she ate emotionally before, or are you comparing what she eats to what you eat? Does she feel like she's okay? Also, is she getting her vitamins? Was she sleeping less before due to anxiety or depression?

You can ask her about all these changes rather than persuading/pushing her to get an alternative drug because you don't like the changes. If she's concerned and she feels unwell and groggy or unhappy with the side effects, then she can talk to her doctor who would most likely like to know how she's doing and would be most familiar with her drug history (what she's already tried, what she's uncomfortable with, etc.), and most qualified to suggest another drug.
posted by anniecat at 1:25 PM on September 20, 2010

I know that she recently started taking Celexa to treat anxiety, but could it really cause such drastic changes?


Are there any alternatives that she could ask her doctor about?


I would suggest talking to her about this. She's probably noticed the side effects, but if you tell her that you've noticed too and are concerned, she might feel less guilty about "quitting" the drug if she's unhappy about it. Guilt over stopping a medication happens to a lot of people who suffer from side effects; they think they should tough it out, and "giving up" means that they're not trying hard enough to be well. It comes from the "illness, especially mental illness, is a moral failure" attitude our society suffers from.

That said, if she feels like Celexa's benefits outweigh the side effects, she might want to continue on it. She should definitely talk to her doctor about the side effects either way, though, especially with the weight loss. Lack of appetite can make lack of energy worse. I used to drink Ensure when I had no appetite but needed nutrition, but that was years ago and I bet there are tastier options on the market now.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 1:28 PM on September 20, 2010

This sounds like classic first few weeks side effects. If they persist past a month, however, I would have her talk to her doctor about them.

Don't stop taking any SSRI or related med suddenly, however, no matter how bad it is making her feel. The side effects of that can be very bad.
posted by strixus at 1:31 PM on September 20, 2010

I took celexa for a brief period. It made me feel nauseous all the time. Like morning sickness even.

There are plenty of alternative meds she could take, or she can talk to the doc and it's possible she can take something for the side effects themselves. Not a bad idea to talk to the doc in any case.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 1:37 PM on September 20, 2010

Celexa can definitely make you sleepy. "Head falling on the desk can't keep your eyes open whoa an hour and a half has passed???" sleepy, even.

The weight loss/appetite changes wouldn't be shocking, either.

DO NOT suggest she stop. Suggest she bring this up with the prescribing doc. They have a freaking syndrome to describe what happens when you stop an SSRI abruptly.
posted by SMPA at 1:53 PM on September 20, 2010

I was on Celexa and slept a lot more than I did before Celexa. I would find myself having to nap during the day and I could easily get 10-12 hours per night versus the eight hours prior to Celexa.

I gained weight with Celexa. As with weight loss, weight gain is not uncommon.

Drowsiness, low libido, difficulty with reaching orgasm, and weight gain is what propelled me to stop Celexa. Unfortunately I cannot share an alternative drug that has worked for me. I decided to quit Celexa and all SSRIs since my diagnosis is not dire. I am not on any medicine at the moment. I have been exercising regularly and this has helped with my mild depression and anxiety.
posted by Fairchild at 2:03 PM on September 20, 2010

I've never been on Celexa, but I've been on a few different SSRI's and had similar symptoms: nausea/loss of appetite (although I somehow managed to GAIN weight despite these obstacles), and extreme fatigue.
posted by kataclysm at 2:45 PM on September 20, 2010

When I started taking the SSRI I am on (not Celexa, though), I lost my appetite for about a month, and lost about 10 pounds. It came back eventually, though (the appetite and the pounds). And when you aren't eating enough, you get tired really easily. I find myself getting sleepy and tired whenever I forget to eat a meal.
posted by lollusc at 4:44 PM on September 20, 2010

Probably the anti-depressant. When I was on an SSNRI, my appetite just about disappeared. I'm used to eating when I'm hungry (which is very often) so I lost a significant amount of weight. During the week, I was used to having set times to eat, but on the weekends I practically wouldn't eat unless someone invited me to - or else I'd completely forget. That in turn made me weaker and would lower my blood pressure, which would cause drowsiness/extended naps.
posted by Neekee at 5:06 PM on September 20, 2010

take-home message: she should ask her doctor about this and NOT STOP the Celexa cold-turkey without a doctor's approval. SSRI Discontinuation Syndrome is no joke! Even if Celexa isn't one of the drugs listed on that page.
posted by barnone at 6:06 PM on September 20, 2010

Just an alternative viewpoint. Depression can cause lack of appetite/weight loss and fatigue, and frequently co-occurs with anxiety. If the timing for medication and her behavior change doesn't match up, my next guess would be depression.
posted by gilsonal at 7:10 PM on September 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

I had the same problem when I started on Celexa. I dropped about 10-15 lbs over three months on my already rather small frame. I've been on it for over a year, and my appetite still hasn't come back. However, I did use some work-arounds to stop the weight loss, including adding Ensure to my meals and setting reminders to eat meals. I haven't gained back the weight, and I'm ok with that.

She should talk to her doctor about this, and about how she feels about the weight loss. Her doctor will likely be able to help her with suggestions for coping with side-effects and/or suggest a different medication, if she so desires.
posted by betty botter at 8:31 PM on September 20, 2010

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