Can Lexapro Cause Weight Loss?


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If you’ve been diagnosed with major depressive disorder or a form of anxiety, your mental health provider may prescribe the medication Lexapro.

Lexapro is an antidepressant that can improve your mood and make symptoms of depressionanxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder and other mental health issues less severe, helping you to focus on recovery and enjoy a higher quality of life.

Many antidepressants are associated with changes in weight, and Lexapro is no exception. For some people, Lexapro can cause weight loss, while for others, it may cause an increase in food intake and weight gain.

Below, we’ve covered what Lexapro is, as well as why your mental health provider may suggest using this medication.

We’ve also looked at the potential links between Lexapro and weight loss, weight gain and other changes in your appetite, eating habits and body composition.

Finally, we’ve explained how you can maintain a stable, healthy weight while you take Lexapro or similar antidepressant medications. 

What Is Lexapro?

Lexapro, which contains the active ingredient escitalopram, is an antidepressant that belongs to a class of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). It’s available as a brand name medication and in generic form as escitalopram. 

Currently, Lexapro is approved by the FDA as a treatment for major depressive disorder (MDD) and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) in adults.

Like many other medications, Lexapro is also used off-label (i.e., for non-FDA-approved uses) to treat other conditions, includingsocial anxiety disorder, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, premenstrual dysphoric disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.

It’s also used to treat some vasomotor symptoms (i.e., symptoms caused by fluctuations in the diameter of the blood vessels) that can develop during menopause, such as hot flashes, night sweats and changes in blood pressure levels.

Your mental health provider may recommend using Lexapro if you’ve been diagnosed with any of the conditions above. 

As an SSRI, Lexapro works by modifying levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin in your brain and body. Serotonin plays a key role in regulating your moods, including feelings of happiness and anxiety. Research suggests that low levels of serotonin are associated with depression.

Like other antidepressants, the effects of Lexapro aren’t immediate. It can take several weeks to begin working, and it may take one month or longer for the full mental health benefits of Lexapro medication to become apparent.

Does Lexapro Cause Weight Loss?

SSRIs such as Lexapro belong to a modern class of antidepressants, most of which came onto the market in the late 1980s to the 1990s, respectively. These replaced older medications for depression, many of which were well known for causing significant side effects.

Although Lexapro and other SSRIs are usually less likely to cause side effects than monoamine oxidase inhibitors, tricyclic antidepressants and other older drugs, they can still potentially cause issues, one of which may be a change in your appetite and weight. 

In general, antidepressants are more commonly associated with an elevated risk of weight gain than undesired weight loss. For example, a large-scale cohort study from the UK found that the risk of weight gain was slightly higher in people who used antidepressants than their peers.

However, not all antidepressants are equally likely to cause weight gain, and some are linked to weight loss in certain groups of people.

For example, another study published in the International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology in 2011 compared the effects of escitalopram and nortriptyline, a tricyclic antidepressant, on the body weight of people undergoing treatment for moderate-to-severe major depression.

The researchers found that while nortriptyline was associated with moderate weight gain over a period of six months, the people who were treated with escitalopram only gained 0.14kg (under a third of a pound) over the same period of time.

Because of its mild effects on weight, the researchers concluded that escitalopram is a suitable option for people with depression at risk of weight gain.

A separate study of escitalopram found that it helped to reduce weight and lower the severity of symptoms in people with binge-eating disorder (BED) and obesity. However, it’s not clear if the same effects occur in people without eating disorders.

Overall, escitalopram’s effects on body weight appear to be mild. In some research, it’s linked to a tiny increase in average body weight in people with depression, while other research suggests that it may help to promote weight loss in people who are overweight or obese.

(RelatedCan Sleep Affect Weight Loss?)

Other Side Effects of Lexapro

In addition to potentially affecting your appetite, eating habits and weight, Lexapro and similar antidepressants may also cause other side effects. Most potential side effects of Lexapro are mild, and many improve gradually as your body adjusts to the medication. 

Common side effects of Lexapro include:

  • Insomnia

  • Nausea

  • Fatigue

  • Drowsiness

  • Increased sweating

Lexapro can also cause sexual side effects, including a reduced level of interest in having sex and either difficulty reaching orgasm or delayed orgasm during sexual activity.

Men who use Lexapro may also develop other forms of sexual dysfunction, including difficulty ejaculating even with significant sexual stimulation.

Lexapro may also cause other adverse effects, including some that may affect your wellbeing and quality of life. It can also interact with other medications, potentially resulting in symptoms such as serotonin syndrome.

To reduce your risk of developing side effects or drug interactions, it’s important to inform your healthcare provider about your medical history and your current or recent use of any drugs or dietary supplements before using Lexapro. 

How to Maintain a Stable Weight While Using Lexapro

Although antidepressants like Lexapro are often linked to changes in weight, it’s still possible to avoid any unwanted decrease or increase in weight while using antidepressants by maintaining the right habits. 

Try the following habits, lifestyle changes and techniques to maintain a stable weight while you use Lexapro:

  • Understand that small weight fluctuations are normal. If you’ve recently started to take Lexapro, it’s easy to get concerned when you get on the scale and see that you’re several pounds lighter or heavier than normal.

    Try to remember that it’s common and very normal for your weight to fluctuate by a few pounds on a daily basis, usually due to your food and fluids intake. Focus on long-term weight change, not short-term fluctuations.

  • Keep yourself physically active. If you experience weight gain while using Lexapro to treat depression or any other condition, try increasing your physical activity level to burn more calories.

    Not only can regular exercise help you to maintain your weight — it can also reduce the severity of depression symptoms by promoting the release of endorphins and improving your brain function.

  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet. Both depression itself and the effects of antidepressants can change your appetite and eating habits, causing you to eat less and lose weight or eat more and gain weight.

    Even when you’re feeling depressed or anxious, try to maintain a balanced, healthy diet most of the time. Occasional cheat meals are fine, but it’s best to build most of your diet around healthy, nutrient-rich foods. 

  • Adjust your food intake to maintain your target weight. If you’re beginning to lose or gain too much weight while using Lexapro, try adjusting your calorie intake to bring your body weight up or down towards your optimal weight.

    The National Institutes of Health has a body weight planner that you can use to calculate your target food intake based on your optimal weight, age, height and activity level.

  • If you find it hard to control your diet, talk to your healthcare provider. Many people with depression experience changes in their appetite and weight, such as weight gain or loss. Some medications for depression may also contribute to these issues.

    If you find it difficult to eat a normal amount while using Lexapro, don’t hesitate to talk to your healthcare provider. They may recommend adjusting your dosage or switching to a different type of medication.

(RelatedWeight Loss Medications: Are They Effective?)

Learn More About Dealing With Depression

It’s far from uncommon for your weight to change when you’re depressed or anxious, either as a result of changes in your eating habits caused by depression or anxiety or as a side effect of the medication you’re prescribed.

For the most part, research suggests that any changes in your body composition or weight loss from Lexapro are mild, especially when compared to older antidepressants. 

If you currently use Lexapro and think it could be affecting your appetite and weight, it’s best to talk to your mental health provider. 

This article originally appeared on and was syndicated by

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Weight Loss Medications: Are They Actually Effective?

Weight Loss Medications: Are They Actually Effective?

It’s common knowledge that managing your weight keeps you healthy now and as you get older. In fact, obesity contributes to several health conditions, including heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer.

Not only was the prevalence of obesity in U.S. adults nearly 42 percent in 2017, but the estimated medical costs for adults with obesity were almost $2,000 more each year than for adults who do not have obesity .

Those who have a body mass index (BMI, or the measurement of fat based on height and weight) between 25 and 30 are considered overweight, while those with a BMI over 30 are considered to have obesity.

You’ve probably heard of a few weight loss medications, or at least their brand names, like Ozempic® and Wegovy®. However, there are several other prescription drugs available that are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and frequently prescribed off-label for weight loss.

Healthcare providers may prescribe these medications to someone who has obesity or is overweight with a weight-related health problem like high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes.


You’re probably familiar with one of semaglutide’s brand names, Ozempic — other brand names for this drug include Wegovy and Rybelsus®.

Ozempic is approved by the FDA to treat type 2 diabetes and may be prescribed off-label for weight loss, in combination with lifestyle changes like diet and exercise or with other diabetes medications like insulin or metformin.

Wegovy, meanwhile, is a prescription medication approved for use for weight loss in people who have obesity or who are overweight.

Ozempic and Wegovy are in a class of medication called GLP-1 receptor agonists, which mimic the hormone glucagon-like peptide-1 and target areas of the brain that regulate appetite.

Ozempic was approved by the FDA in 2017, while Wegovy was granted approval to pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk more recently, in 2021.


Although only approved by the FDA to treat diabetes, metformin is often used off-label for weight loss, as well as gestational diabetes (a type of diabetes that develops during pregnancy) and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

It isn’t exactly clear how metformin helps people lose weight, but researchers think the drug works as an appetite suppressant. Similarly to Ozempic, metformin may increase how much GLP-1 hormone your body makes. This can send a signal to your brain that you’re full, which means you eat fewer calories.

Read our blog to learn about Ozempic vs. Metformin for weight loss.

(Related: Metformin For Weight Loss: Does It Work?)

Tatsiana Niamera/istockphoto

If you’ve dealt with depression or looked into medication to quit smoking, bupropion may sound familiar to you.

For weight loss, it can be combined with the drug naltrexone, which is used to treat alcohol and drug dependence, to curb your hunger or make you feel fuller sooner. Together, these medications work on two areas of the brain, the hunger center and the reward system, to reduce appetite and help control cravings.

Along with a reduced calorie diet and exercise plan, naltrexone-bupropion can also help keep excess weight off.


Phentermine-topiramate is actually two separate medications that are combined in Qsymia, but are offered separately in other applications. 

While phentermine is considered an anorectic and topiramate is an anticonvulsant, both help with appetite suppression.

Topiramate offers the added benefit of helping you feel fuller longer after you eat.

When used specifically with a healthy exercise regimen and a reduced calorie diet, these medications — either together or separately — have been shown to help people lose weight and keep it off.


Orlistat, which belongs to a class of medications known as lipase inhibitors, reduces the amount of fat your body absorbs from the food you eat.

Orlistat is used for weight loss in conjunction with exercise and a reduced-calorie diet, as well as after weight loss to help people keep from gaining back that weight.

While the brand name Xenical requires a prescription, another brand called Alli is available in a lower dosage without one.


Like Ozempic and Wegovy, liraglutide is an injected weight loss medication. It works as a GLP-1 receptor agonist to suppress appetite, similarly to semaglutide.

Also available under the brand name Victoza at a lower dose, this drug is FDA-approved to treat type 2 diabetes.

(Related: Weight Loss Injections: Are They Safe?)


These weight loss drugs are all available with a prescription from a healthcare professional, but how effective are they really?

  • One study found that when people without diabetes took a weekly semaglutide injection they had a higher average weight loss — almost a 15 percent average decrease in weight — than people who took a placebo.

  • Metformin has also demonstrated clinically significant weight loss. A 2020 meta-analysis of 21 trials testing metformin found the drug had a modest impact on lowering BMI, especially for those who are considered to have obesity.

  • smaller study on metformin also found that the average amount of weight lost in 154 patients was between 5.6 and 7 kgs (that’s roughly between 13 and 15 pounds).

It’s also worth mentioning cost here — if you can’t afford the drug you need to take, it’s effectiveness essentially drops to zero percent. That said, there’s some wide price disparity between weight loss drugs. 

For instance, injectibals like Ozempic and Wegovy are generally more expensive than orals like metformin — namely because metformin is a generic medication that’s been around for decades, and Ozempic and Wegovy are newer. 

Liudmila Chernetska/istockphoto

Because everyone’s weight loss journey is different, weight loss medications may work slowly for some people and faster for others.

How long you need to take a weight loss prescription drug depends on various factors such as what side effects you experience, how much weight you need to lose, whether the drug helps keep the weight off and more.

Generally, as found in the studies noted above and clinical trials, weight loss will occur within the first few months of using the medication.

Sometimes your health care professional may recommend long-term use of the medication, while other people may be advised to stop the drug if they don’t lose a certain amount of weight after 12 weeks.

If you’re taking a weight loss medication, your healthcare provider will likely suggest that you also increase your physical activity and make healthy lifestyle changes like eating lots of protein and fiber and getting enough sleep. These medications are the most effective when combined with healthy habits.

Jorge Elizaquibel/istockphoto

Just like any medication, weight loss drugs also come with the possibility of side effects.

When it comes to injectibal drugs like Ozempic and Wegovy, there are some broad side effects that apply to all injectibals — like swelling, redness or other discomfort at the injection site — but generally, the side effects profiles of these drugs are similar regardless of delivery method.

The most common side effects of many of these weight loss medications include:

  • Stomach pain or constipation

  • Diarrhea

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

Some, like liraglutide and naltrexone-bupropion, may cause an increased heart rate or headaches.

Liraglutide and semaglutide may also increase the risk of pancreatitis (swelling of the pancreas). You may also have a higher risk of developing tumors or thyroid cancer when using liraglutide or semaglutide, although these serious side effects are very rare.


There’s a good chance you’ve heard of weight loss medications like Ozempic or even Wegovy, but there’s also a good chance that the headlines and celebrity-focused articles didn’t answer all your questions. Here’s what you need to know about whether they’re effective.

  • There are several FDA-approved weight loss drugs, including semaglutide, orlistat, phentermine-topiramate, naltrexone-bupropion and liraglutide. Metformin is another common medication used off-label for weight management.

  • These drugs all work slightly differently, but many decrease your appetite and help you stick to a lower-calorie diet. Healthcare providers often recommend they be used alongside regular exercise and healthy habits to maximize sustained weight loss.

  • However, there are side effects such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and constipation and, for the injectibals, injection-side irritation, injury or discomfort. Often, these are mild and serious side effects rarely happen.

  • Cost is also worth considering. Injectibals like Ozempic and Wegovy can generally cost anywhere from $800 to $1,000 per prescription, where a generic like metformin can be had for a fraction of that — usually for under $100 a month.

There’s no one “best weight loss medication” — there’s only what’s best for your particular needs. If you’re curious about medication for weight loss, you can talk to your healthcare provider for medical advice and to explore your options. And if you’re interested in other weight loss treatments online, we can help. 

This article originally appeared on and was syndicated by



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