Coming off Sertraline: A Guide to Post-Antidepressant Weight Loss

Antidepressants are more prevalent now than ever. Mental health problems like depression, bipolar disorder, and PTSD are now given the same importance as physical illnesses, which was not the case only a decade ago.

In the US, one in ten adults takes an antidepressant. The rate of antidepressant use has seen an increase of over 400% between the 1990s and the 2000s. Drugs like Sertraline, Amitriptyline, and Citalopram are the most commonly prescribed antidepressant medication.

But one of the problems of antidepressant use is dealing with its side effects. And one of the most common problems with long-term antidepressant use is weight gain. Users of Sertraline have reported anywhere from 5 to 30 pounds of weight gain. So what’s the solution?

In this article, you’ll get to know why antidepressants like sertraline cause weight gain and how to prevent it. So let’s find out the secrets of coming off sertraline weight loss.

What is Sertraline?

Sertraline is an antidepressant medication popularly known by its commercial name, Zoloft. It belongs to a class of antidepressant drugs called Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors or SSRIs.

coming off sertraline weight loss

One of the essential hormones that affect our mood is Serotonin. It is a neurotransmitter that has varied and complex functions. But in simple terms, it excites the brain and stimulates nerve reactions that promote happiness and the feeling of wellbeing.

SSRIs extend the activity time of Serotonin in the nervous system. This helps with regulating mood and treating illnesses like depression and PTSD.

Side Effects of Sertraline

Sertraline is used for the treatment of a wide range of mental health problems. It is prescribed for anxiety, depression,  panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive disorder, social anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, outline tracing disorder, and many other conditions.

Using sertraline can also come with some side effects. These may include:

  • Indigestion
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Tremors
  • Loss of coordination and confusion
  • Sexual dysfunction

Another problem with the long-term use of Sertraline is that it causes weight gain. It can be especially problematic for people suffering from depression and other health issues like obesity, diabetes, hypertension, etc. No wonder coming off sertraline weight loss is such a popular topic on the internet.

So, let’s first look at the reasons why antidepressants like SSRIs cause weight gain.

Why do SSRIs cause weight gain?

There are many theories as to why antidepressants like SSRIs cause weight gain. But the exact mechanism of how it leads to weight loss is still unknown.

Depression itself can be the cause

Weight gain can occur from depression itself. Overeating is a huge problem for people suffering from anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder. In these cases, sometimes taking antidepressants and mood management can lead to weight loss.

Regain of Apetite

Another simple reason could be that people suffering from chronic depression lose their appetite. They can also develop eating disorders that lead to weight loss.

Taking antidepressants improves their condition and brings their appetite back. And as a result, they tend to eat more and gain weight.

Chemical Changes in the Brain

There might be a more direct way that antidepressants cause weight gain. This might be caused by chemical changes in the brain, the effect of neurotransmitters on feelings of hunger and satiety, alteration of the state of metabolism of the body, etc.

There is no evidence yet to suggest taking antidepressants directly causes you to put on weight. But the correlation between the two is undeniable.

coming off sertraline weight loss

So, one way or another, SSRIs cause weight gain. But are they the only option? Are there alternatives you can take? Or do all antidepressants inevitably cause weight gain? What about the stories of coming off sertraline weight loss?

Ways to come off Sertraline weight gain

Dealing with any mental health illness is daunting in itself. And coming off sertraline feel awful also.

Balancing such a condition while maintaining a job, social life, and living day-to-day is an ordeal that can only be understood by those who live through it. Trying to lose weight at the same time might seem impossible. But patience and perseverance are the keys to success against all odds.

Don’t worry and just follow these easy tips. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll find it simple to keep your calories in check and your weight under control.

Here are the ways for coming off sertraline weight loss.

Don’t skip meals

The first instinct that most people have when trying to lose weight is to skip a meal. Not only is it very harmful to health, but it can also backfire and cause weight gain.

Skipping meals means leaving your stomach empty for long. This can cause problems like gas, acidity, ulcers, GERD, etc. Again, if you suddenly start skipping meals, you might tend to start snacking in between meals. This result is you taking more calories instead of less. Thus causing weight gain.

Try a balanced diet

Instead of skipping meals or fasting, try a balanced diet. Try targeting an optimal calorie intake for every meal, but make sure you get a good variety of quality food components. Try eating more protein and fewer carbs and fats.

Eat plenty of greens like fruits and veggies as they provide essential nutrients. Make sure you’re getting enough fiber. It helps you feel fuller for longer and adds no extra calories.

Drink enough water

Water is an essential component required for metabolism. So make sure you are well hydrated. Drinking water can also quell the hunger. So whenever you get the munchies in between a meal, drink a tall glass of water instead.

Read the fine print

Reading the nutrition facts on food packing and the information on the labels can save you a lot of extra calories.

Sometimes we walk into a store and grab a bag of chips for a quick snack. Reading the label can give you a quick reality check and encourage you to look for healthy alternatives.

Use a smaller plate

This is a pretty neat trick. Instead of having lunch or dinner on a full-sized plate, take a smaller plate or bowl instead. This makes sure that you eat smaller portions, thus reducing the calories that you eat.

Another advantage is that it tricks your mind into thinking you’ve had a full meal. And give you a sense of fullness and satisfaction.

Avoid Junk food

Try to avoid eating junk food as much as possible. Junk food is delicious, but that’s because it’s packed with fats, oils, and sugar. A cheeseburger with a side of fries and a milkshake and set you back almost a thousand calories. To burn that amount, you’ll need to run for 8 miles!

Look for healthier alternatives. Next time you’re out for brunch, try a caesar salad instead of bacon and toast.

Get more active

Weight loss is impossible without exercise. Luckily, there is an optimal exercise for any age, body type, and state of health. A brisk walk for 30 minutes a day is a great way to start. If you can do more, try hitting the gym.

Ask your doctor before starting any extensive exercise program. Don’t attempt to do any heavy exercise if you are suffering from any serious medical condition.

Take the stairs

Find ways to keep active in your day-to-day life. Climb the stairs instead of taking the elevator. Walk to the store instead of taking the car.

Keep track of your daily steps. Most modern smartphones can count your steps for you. Fix a target according to your physical conditions and weight goal, and then try to reach that target each day.

Cut the alcohol

Alcohol is one of the sneaky ways that calories can creep into your diet. Alcohol is metabolized into fat by the liver. This ultimately builds up in the body and causes weight gain. So avoid alcohol as much as possible.

Stay Positive

Weight loss isn’t an easy task. It takes time and effort. Try to stay positive and set realistic goals and expectations.

Keep your family and loved ones close. Their support might help you to cross the finish line and achieve your goal finally.

What other antidepressants cause weight gain?

Here we have some good news and bad news. The good news is that not everyone who takes antidepressants will gain weight. But the bad news is that almost all antidepressants are related to some degree of weight gain.

But some antidepressant drugs are more likely to cause weight gain than others.

  • Tricyclic Antidepressants (TCAs): Amitriptyline, Amoxapine, Doxepin, Imipramine, Nortriptyline, Trimipramine
  • Monoxime Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs): Phenelzine, Isocarboxazid, Tranylcypromine
  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs): Sertraline, Fluoxetine, Citalopram
  • Atypical antidepressants: Escitalopram, Duloxetine, Bupropion. Venlafaxine, Desvenlafaxine, Vilazodone, Vortioxetine

But whether you will gain weight after taking antidepressants depends on several factors. These factors include your age, sex, overall health, illnesses like metabolic disorders, genetic predispositions, etc.

So, it seems that antidepressants cause weight gain after all. But as with all kinds of illness, prevention is better than cure. There are things that you can do to prevent putting on weight while on antidepressants. It’s a much better option than trying to lose weight after you already gained the pounds.

How to avoid gaining weight while taking antidepressants?

Weight gain is a problem on its own. But weight gain while on psychiatric medication can be even worse. People on drugs such as antidepressants are already vulnerable to anxiety.

The added stress of weight gain and the problems that come with it can put immense pressure on the psyche. This can affect the whole treatment.

Sometimes people are so fearful once they start gaining weight, they might stop taking their medication. They think that suddenly coming off sertraline weight loss is a good idea.

But weight loss after stopping antidepressants is not that easy. This is very dangerous as it may cause their mental health to deteriorate drastically. So, it is a matter of great concern.

So the best way to solve this problem is to try to mitigate weight gain while on antidepressant medication as much as possible. Balancing physical and mental health is quite challenging. But you can do it with some patience and effort.

The steps you can take to avoid weight gain while on antidepressants are as follows:

Watch what you eat

As antidepressants begin to take effect, you’ll feel much better. Your appetite will return, and you will enjoy eating.

During this time, try to eat healthily. Avoid high-calorie junk food and sweets—snack on healthy alternatives like nuts, seeds, carrots, etc.

Exercise

Try to get some exercise every day. You can start simply by walking or running for thirty minutes a day. You can also work out at the gym a few times a week. Exercise ensures that you burn the calories that you consume, leaving nothing deposited as body fat.

Exercise can also help you feel better as it promotes the release of dopamine and serotonin.

Check your meds

If your weight gain seems too fast or out of control, consult your doctor. Ask for a revised dose or alternative medication.

Sometimes, drugs might affect a certain of people differently due to idiosyncrasies. Again, not all people are compatible with all kinds of medications. In this case, switching to alternate drugs might do the trick.

Hopefully, you can control your weight before it becomes a severe problem. But unfortunately, for the majority of people, this is not possible. Most people find it very difficult to maintain weight while on antidepressant medication. So weight gain becomes inevitable.

But the story doesn’t have to end there. You can lose weight and get healthy as long as you have the desire to succeed. Coming off sertraline weight loss stories are all over the internet. You’ll find how people have come back even from their lowest point.

So don’t lose hope, just follow these tips, and you’ll be on your post-antidepressant weight loss journey in no time.

Never quit Antidepressant Drugs cold turkey

Antidepressant medications affect your mind and your thoughts. So when it comes to using such drugs, the stakes are incredibly high. As these drugs can influence the core of your being, their abuse can have dire consequences.

Suddenly stopping antidepressant medication can cause you to get sick. You might experience symptoms like stomach aches, insomnia, headaches, depression, panic attacks, etc. And no one can tell how long do antidepressant withdrawal symptoms last in this situation.

If you are taking antidepressants for an extended period, suddenly stopping may cause withdrawal symptoms. In extreme cases, it might lead to self-harm and suicide ideation.

So if you are looking for how to get off antidepressants naturally, it’s better to consult with your doctor.

FAQ

How do I get off antidepressants naturally?

You can wean off antidepressants by gradually reducing the dose over some time. Your doctor will determine the doses which are safe for you.

Why do I feel awful after coming off Sertraline?

If you suddenly stop taking your antidepressant meds like sertraline, the amount of Serotonin in your nervous system will suddenly drop. This reduces the sense of happiness and wellbeing. So you might feel depressed or awful.

Will I lose weight coming off Sertraline?

No, your weight won’t just fall off just because you stopped taking your meds. You’ll need to adjust your diet and exercise after you’ve stopped taking Sertraline to lose weight.

Conclusion

Depression is a severe condition. Its treatment is long and trying. Weight gain is an added obstacle that can make this already complicated process even more daunting.

But balancing physical and mental health doesn’t have to be an uphill battle. The proper mindset with the support of our loved ones can help us accomplish anything. Hopefully, what you’ve learned here can help make you’re coming off sertraline weight loss journey a little easier.

Muhtasim Munir

As a doctor in the making, I feel fascinated by the advancements and expansion of medical science. This fuels my passion for trying to follow a health-conscious lifestyle. I love writing and sharing thoughts and ideas with the people I care about. If my work can reach out and help people to enjoy a healthy, happy life it will be an honor for me. Muhtasim Munir MBBS (3rd year) Armed Forces Medical College

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