Most antidepressant medications cause weight gain as a side effect. However, bupropion is an antidepressant that can cause weight loss in some people.

Antidepressants are a common form of treatment for depression. However, some people with the condition may encounter issues managing their weight.

These issues are sometimes due to the symptoms of depression that may affect appetite. They may also result from antidepressant use, which could lead to weight gain as a possible side effect.

In this article, we discuss antidepressants that cause weight loss. We also look at the benefits and risks of antidepressants for weight loss and consider alternative options.

If a person is considering taking medication for weight loss, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional, as not everyone will benefit from these drugs.

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Antidepressants may cause some people to have problems with managing their weight.

Buproprion is a common antidepressant medication, and its brand names include Aplenzin and Wellbutrin. It comes as an immediate and extended-release pill.

Buproprion works by altering chemical levels in the brain. It disrupts the enzymes that regulate the hormones norepinephrine and dopamine.

Buproprion is an atypical form of antidepressant, which means its class differs from other types of antidepressants, such as serotonin reuptake inhibitors.

While it can help with depression, some people may also take bupropion to stop smoking, as the drug can reduce nicotine cravings.

A 2016 study found that people who took bupropion lost around 7 pounds more than those who took other antidepressants over 2 years. However, the researchers only discovered this effect in nonsmokers.

A 2019 review of 27 studies in children and adults who took antidepressants found that only those taking bupropion lost weight, while people who took other antidepressants gained weight.

Studies show bupropion is an effective treatment for depression. Therefore, it may be a suitable option for people with depression and concerns about possible weight gain.

For example, taking bupropion may be useful for those with depression and obesity. If people take another type of antidepressant, it could cause further health problems in these situations.

People without depression should not take antidepressants for weight loss, as there is no evidence bupropion causes weight loss in individuals without this condition.

Additionally, a person who takes bupropion increases their risk of the following side effects:

In rare cases, bupropion can trigger serious side effects, including:

  • seizures
  • confusion
  • fever
  • rashes or hives
  • swelling around the body
  • hallucinations and delusions
  • paranoia
  • changes in heart rate
  • difficulty breathing
  • chest pain

These signs could indicate a medical emergency or other serious health concerns. People who experience any of these side effects should stop taking bupropion immediately and contact a doctor.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also warns these drugs may increase the risk of suicide. Bupropion may cause unpredictable changes in mood and suicidal thoughts.

Suicide prevention

If you know someone at immediate risk of self-harm, suicide, or hurting another person:

  • Ask the tough question: “Are you considering suicide?”
  • Listen to the person without judgment.
  • Call 911 or the local emergency number, or text TALK to 741741 to communicate with a trained crisis counselor.
  • Stay with the person until professional help arrives.
  • Try to remove any weapons, medications, or other potentially harmful objects if it’s safe to do so.

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, a prevention hotline can help. The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is available 24 hours a day at 988. During a crisis, people who are hard of hearing can use their preferred relay service or dial 711 then 988.

Find more links and local resources.

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The best alternative for weight loss is a combination of a nutritious diet and exercise.

A person can follow a diet rich in vegetables and fruit and eat whole grains instead of refined grains or foods with added sugars. Some people may also need to reduce their calorie intake and portion sizes.

Regular exercise is another important step. People should aim to do at least 150–300 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week.

Here are some answers to common questions regarding antidepressants and weight gain.

Can you lose weight on depression medication?

Antidepressants can cause a variety of side effects, including weight gain and weight loss. Some forms of antidepressants have links to weight loss in some people.

Which antidepressant does not cause weight gain?

Some antidepressants will not cause weight gain — some can even cause weight loss.

A 2022 study found that fluoxetine could cause weight loss of up to 2.7 kilograms compared with a placebo. However, this may come with side effects such as nausea, dizziness, and fatigue.

Researchers have also associated bupropion with weight loss in some people. Additionally, health experts have found imipramine may cause weight loss in both acute and long-term treatments.

Why does Zoloft make you lose weight?

Zoloft may have links to weight loss, particularly among children.

This medication can cause a variety of side effects, and it is possible some of these may contribute to weight loss. Nausea and decreased appetite are both known adverse effects of Zoloft. If a person is taking Zoloft and experiences adverse effects, such as appetite issues or nausea, they may wish to consult a doctor.

Although most antidepressants can cause weight gain, bupropion is a medication for depression that can lead to weight loss. If people with depression have concerns about weight gain, this might be a suitable option.

People without depression should not take bupropion to lose weight. There is no evidence that this drug causes weight loss in those without depression, while there is a risk of serious side effects.

The best way for individuals to lose weight is to eat a nutritious diet and exercise regularly.