If you found this page, you’re likely having problems with your weight.
And you might have a hunch that your weight problems are due (at least partially) to taking the prescription SSRI Anti-Depressant Zoloft.
Guess what, you’re probably right.
Does Zoloft cause weight gain? There’s good reason to believe it does (in some cases.)
If you are experiencing unexplained weight gain (more common) or weight loss (less common), it could be due to how Zoloft can stop the body from being able to monitor itself metabolically. Zoloft side effects of weight gain is a very common concern.
You take Zoloft to help relieve your anxiety and depression. Right?
So if in 4 months time after starting Zoloft you’ve gained 30 pounds and your clothes don’t fit anymore – well that can be pretty depressing in itself.
And if it happened without changing your diet or exercise routine at all? Well that’s really a bummer.
You work hard to stay healthy – so it really sucks if you continue to gain weight regardless of your efforts.
If this is you then ask yourself: is the way this drug regulates my emotions worth potentially feeling even worse about myself than before I started taking it? (due to the weight & other side effects).
One young man explains his challenge with weight gain on Zoloft below:
“When I first started taking it I was under weight because of my severe depression. After about 4 months I had never seen myself bigger. I was eating pretzels and salad and going to the gym, yet I looked like I was chowing down on multiple cheeseburgers during any free moment. The minute I switched to a different medication I started dropping the weight….
In the end many people decide that the negative effects of Zoloft and weight gain and try something else. Whether that something else be a different SSRI drug, or alternative ways to deal with emotional hardship.
As a caveat, some people decide that the positive effects on their emotional wellbeing far outweigh the weight gain issue. Gaining weight is fine for them as long as their mood is stable.
Also, some bodies just don’t respond to Zoloft by fluctuating weight wise. It all depends. Every body is different.
So, for you, do you think Zoloft is doing you more harm than good? You might already know the answer, but let’s take a closer look at the drug and the potential for related weight problems in this post. Hopefully you’ll be able to decide for sure by the end.
1.) Zoloft and weight gain – how does it work?
So why does Zolofy make us gain weight? What exactly is it doing to our insides?
Here’s (a simplified version) of what happens:
Zoloft alters the bodies serotonin signaling system by inhibiting the bodies re-uptake of serotonin in the blood. Serotonin levels effect your mood.
By altering this system, the drug is able to stabilize mood swings.
But, serotonin also effects your appetite. Many people experience these appetite changes by craving food. So they eat more, regardless of whether they need it or not.
And the type of cravings you’ll mostly get? Quick energy boosting foods like sugary / refined carbs / high calorie foods (due to blood sugar changes).
That right there is a recipe for weight gain.
… Now couple this with the fact that Zoloft itself can throw off your whole metabolic response and render your body unable to maintain regular weight – regardless of your diet.
Now we have a real problem.
You’re eating more AND your body can’t correctly manage itself metabolically.
2.) Why does Zoloft make us crave food?
It’s thought to stress the pancreas, among other organs and body regulatory systems, which in turn messes with your blood sugar and insulin levels.
When the brain is unsure about the amount of blood sugar coming to it, it makes you crave sugary/carby/high calorie food as a stress response.
With Zoloft in the mix, these cravings can be powerful and incessant.
You might experience wild fluctuations in blood sugar levels entering your brain. This in turn triggers strong food cravings as your body constantly tries to figure out what the drug is doing.
3.) How does it make your body confused like this?
We don’t know exactly.
There haven’t been reliable studies done to understand everything that’s happening.
Under normal circumstances the body should be able to find a sort of equilibrium with blood sugar levels. It must learn how to maintain the levels well because if our blood sugar is low we become weak, and when its high we tax our system.
Now add in the effects of anti-depressents like Zoloft and your body might not be able to tell where it’s “equilibrium” is anymore. It loses it’s ability to choose a good target blood sugar range and gets confused, letting its system go into disarray.
All this is happening while the drug itself is artificially altering blood sugar levels in ways which might be completely contrary to what the itself body would want to do.
(This is a wild simplification by the way. Systems effected in blood sugar disregulation include, leptin, insulin, and adiponectin systems as well. There are a lot of factors that go into Zoloft’s weight gain or loss.)
4.) Do women and men have different weight change patterns with Zoloft?
Zoloft and weight gain in women is thought to occur more common. But most of this information is anecdotal.
Typically, the tendencies of Zoloft to cause dysregulation of the metabolic system span to both men and women equally.
As a rule, weight changes are based more on individual body physiology rather than gender.
Some men gain loads of weight on Zoloft, some don’t.
Some women gain loads of weight too, some don’t.
5.) Are there ways to counter weight issues from Zoloft without getting off the medication?
One of the most common side effects of Zoloft is weight gain when taken in the long run.
Many times people don’t experience much of a change in their weight for months after starting the medication, but after 6 months to a year they start to see their body expanding.
This can prove a conundrum for many, as the medication might be helping their quality of life substantially, but they also get very upset when they’re continuing to gain weight. Long term this drug can also lead to IBS and other inflammatory diseases, especially if the higher appetite signals from Zoloft result in eating unhealthy foods.
If you are sure you want to stay on the med, maybe there are some ways to lessen the effects of weight gain?
- Cut out inflammatory / allergenic foods from your diet. The typical western diet is steeped with foods that cause detrimental side effects in the body. Foods like wheat (gluten), various grains, vegetable oils (too high in omega 6 fats), sugar (easily toxic in high amounts) should be avoided as much as possible.
- Zoloft is known to increase appetite regardless of your actual need for food. So if you are getting strong cravings to eat, develop a good discernment whether or not you actually need to eat.
- Get more balanced energy from healthy fat intake rather than carbs/sugars. This may seem contrary to what our culture has lead us to believe. Many people equate fat intake with being unhealthy, but that’s far from the truth. Fat (especially saturated fat and omega 3 fatty acids) are extremely important for healthy weight and energy. Saturated fat is needed for good brain health, great skin and proper energy expenditure. Carbs burn up quick and cause your blood sugar to spike. You’ll need to snack more and more frequently if you want to feel full. This only gets worse when Zoloft is altering your chemistry. Fat on the other hand is a slower burning fuel source. You can eat a fatty smoothie / meal for breakfast and you’ll be more likely to stay satiated and energized longer before needing to eat again.
- Be active – Get outside – Exercise! This is essential if you’re worried about packing on pounds. Being sedentary will only make Zoloft weight issues worse. Way worse! Get into a habit of working out or running. In the least, get outside and take a walk as often as you can!