Antidepressants make you fat

Taking Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI) antidepressants promotes weight gain in individuals with a Western diet, sedentary lifestyles and smokers.

Published in the British Medical Journal, this study included 2,300 adults who were followed for more than 4 years. Data concerning eating habits, lifestyle, weight and prescribed treatments were provided.

Among this population, 188 subjects (8.1%) had 1 to 2 annual antidepressant prescriptions and 212 (9.1%) more than 2 prescriptions. The SSRIs were the most prescribed since 225 people (56.3%) received this type of molecule. The other psychotropics were represented by tricyclic antidepressants (ATC) or other molecules.

Antidepressants and Western diet: guaranteed weight gain

In this study, nutritional habits were also analyzed using a food questionnaire. Subjects not taking antidepressants had a healthier diet than those with more than 2 annual prescriptions of Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors.

The latter thus had a diet closer to a Western diet (high consumption of processed meat, snacks and fast foods with little fruit and vegetables). Energy intake was also higher, rising from 2050 to 2200 kcal/d.

A healthy lifestyle reduces the risks

Subgroup analysis indicates that patients who had 2 annual SSRI prescriptions associated with:

– a Western diet took 0.840 kg more than those who did not have antidepressants,

– a sedentary lifestyle took 1.01 kg more than those without treatment,

– tobacco consumption took 0.660 kg more than those without SSRIs.

In view of these results, it would be appropriate to ensure the management of depression by appropriate psychological monitoring and, if necessary, drug treatment which should also be accompanied by lifestyle and dietary recommendations (nutritional advice, physical activity and reduction of smoking).

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Shi Z, SSRI antidepressant use potentiates weight gain in the context of unhealthy lifestyles: results from a 4-year Australian follow-up study BMJ 7:e016224


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