Lexapro and Weight Gain or Loss

Medically reviewed by Lindsay Slowiczek, PharmD on March 30, 2017Written by Susan York Morris

Overview

Lexapro (escitalopram) is an antidepressant often prescribed to treat depression and anxiety disorders. Antidepressants are generally quite helpful. But as a side effect, some of these drugs may affect your weight. Let’s take a look at what’s known about Lexapro, weight, and other factors about this drug.

Lexapro and weight Lexapro’s effect on weight

Lexapro can cause changes in weight. There are some reports that people begin to lose weight when first taking Lexapro, but this finding is not well supported by research studies.

Another study found that Lexapro didn’t reduce the obsessive-compulsive symptoms linked to binge-eating disorder, but it did reduce weight and body mass index. This may be because study participants taking Lexapro had fewer binge-eating episodes.

More thorough research is needed on the topic of Lexapro and weight changes. But the current evidence seems to suggest that the drug may be more likely to cause weight loss than weight gain, if you have weight changes at all.

If either of these effects is a concern for you, talk to your doctor. They have the most insight on how this drug will affect you individually. They can also offer tips for managing your weight.

What it treats What Lexapro is used to treat

Lexapro belongs to a class of antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). These medications work by increasing the levels of serotonin in your brain. Serotonin is a key messenger chemical that helps regulate your mood.

Depression

Lexapro treats depression, a medical illness and a mood disorder that continues for longer than a few weeks. Most people with depression have deep feelings of sadness. They also lack interest in things that once gave them pleasure. Depression affects every aspect of life, including relationships, work, and appetite.

If Lexapro helps reduce your depression, it can reverse changes in your appetite caused by the condition. In turn, you may lose or gain some weight. But this effect is more related to your condition than to side effects of the drug.

Anxiety

Lexapro also treats anxiety in many anxiety disorders.

Our bodies are programmed with an automatic fight-or-flight response. Our heart beats faster, our breathing becomes rapid, and more blood flows into the muscles of our arms and legs as our bodies prepare to either run or stand our ground and fight. If you have an anxiety disorder, your body goes into fight-or-flight mode more often and for longer periods of time.

There are several different anxiety disorders, including:

Side effects Side effects of Lexapro

Although it is not completely clear how Lexapro can affect your weight, other possible side effects of this drug are clear. Most people tolerate Lexapro reasonably well. Still, the following side effects are possible when you take this drug:

Talk to your doctor Takeaway

It’s not likely you’ll have weight changes because of Lexapro. More importantly, if your doctor has prescribed Lexapro, it will likely be effective in reducing your symptoms of depression or anxiety. If you’re concerned about changes to your weight while taking Lexapro, talk to your doctor. You can also ask about lifestyle changes you can make to help counter any weight changes.

Also, be sure to tell your doctor about any other changes you experience when taking Lexapro. Chances are your doctor will be able to change your dosage or have you try another drug.

Keep reading: Safe diets and healthful weight loss »

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