Whether you are seeking treatment for depression and don't want to gain weight, or you want to consider using an antidepressant to help with weight loss, knowing how these medications affect metabolism and appetite can help guide your decision making process. Medications do not replace the need to eat fewer calories than you expend each day, and they are not equally effective for all people.
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Wellbutrin and Weight Loss
Wellbutrin, or bupropion, was approved by the FDA in 1985 for the management of depression and for smoking cessation, under the name Zyban. It has been used by many people for weight loss as well.
A Duke University team, writing in the July 2002 issue of "Obesity" reported that when taking 400 milligrams of Wellbutrin SR each day for six months, the men and women in the study lost an average of 10.1 percent of their weight. Just as importantly, they maintained their weight loss for at least an additional 48 weeks.
Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors, or SSRIs, work to correct a chemical imbalance in the brain associated with depression. SSRI antidepressants normally cause weight gain, whether by increasing appetite or slowing the metabolic rate, but one, Prozac, may have the opposite effect in the first six months of use.
In an analysis of multiple clinical studies of Prozac's efficacy in achieving and maintaining weight management, University of Louisiana researchers, George Bray, M.D. and Frank Greenway, M.D. wrote that Prozac can induce a weight loss of approximately four to eight pounds, over 24 weeks, but Prozac is not appropriate for long term use because 50 percent of the weight lost was regained during the next six months, even on the medication.
While Prozac does not appear to help people lose weight, it can serve as an effective antidepressant for those who can not afford to risk additional weight gain from other antidepressants.
Zoloft, or sertraline HCl, is approved for the treatment of depression, anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Though no current studies have found Zoloft to help people without obsessive eating patterns to lose weight, the manufacturer, Pfizer, reports a one to two pound weight loss as a complication of Zoloft.
Zoloft is particularly well suited to the management of obsessive-compulsive disorders in children over age six, and among the most prevalent of these obsessive-compulsive disorders is overeating, leading to obesity, according to the International OCD Foundation. When used with cognitive behavioral therapy or health coaching for the child and family, control over eating can be achieved and weight loss can begin, according to the American Pediatrics Association. In addition, Zoloft can be used for premenstrual dysphoric disorder, or PMDD, and to treat post traumatic stress disorder without causing the weight gain common to other approaches.