By Irfana
B.Sc (Psychiatry Ward)
17 May 2022 -
Medically reviewed by
Freny
D. Pharm
Does Lexapro cause weight gain?
Table of Contents

Being mentally healthy extends our life by allowing us to experience more joy and happiness. Mental Health is a person's condition in which a person identifies their abilities and tries to cope with each crisis.

But Nowadays, Mental disorders are rapidly increasing and are experienced by every age group. Mental illnesses diminish mental health stigma and take away the opportunity for a better life.

The WHO reported that anxiety disorders are more common mental disorders worldwide, with specific phobia, major depressive disorder (MDD) and social phobia being the most common anxiety disorders. According to WHO,1 in 13 globally suffers from anxiety.

In the U.S., Anxiety disorders are the most commonly occurring mental illness. Forty million adults are affected by an anxiety disorder in the United States, about 18 years and older, or 18.1% of the population, every year.

This study was conducted by adaa.org.com

So let's read further to know about Lexapro and how Lexapro results in weight gain.

What is Lexapro used for?

Lexapro is a prescribed medication under the brand name of Escitalopram. Lexapro is an antidepressant used to treat types of anxiety disorders and depression.

Lexapro is an over the counter medication which is used to treat depression and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). You can Buy Lexapro online from a certified online pharmacy but it is recommended to get doctor's prescription first.

Lexapro is used off-label to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder(OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder(PTSD), social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, and hot flashes in menopause.

How does Lexapro work?

Lexapro is one group of antidepressants called Selective Serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).

Lexapro works by increasing serotonin, a major neurotransmitter in your brain.

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter, a brain chemical messenger that helps regulate mood, sleep, pain, etc.

Low serotonin levels have been connected with depression and anxiety. When serotonin levels are normal in range, you feel happier, calmer, less anxious and more focused.

By increasing the serotonin levels, Lexapro helps to reduce depressive symptoms such as decreased mood, insomnia and fatigue.

Lexapro and weight gain

The majority of weight gain is possible by intake of Lexapro, and mild weight gain itself is the potential side effect of Lexapro. The weight gain observed is less than 0.5 per cent.

Lexapro is an antidepressant that causes changes in appetite. Many antidepressant SSRIs drugs like Paxil, Prozac and Zoloft can cause weight gain of 10 pounds(4.5kg) or more.

At the start of treatment, you will notice slight changes in weight that you will lose weight in the initial period and if Lexapro is consumed for a long term and more than 6 to 9 months can result in weight gain.

There is a link between depression and obesity; thus, many reasons behind weight gain. Lexapro increased the craving for food or rediscovered the pleasure of eating food which causes overeating or binge disorder and results in weight gain.

It affects the metabolism process and makes it low, and you are not able to burn calories quickly; this increases fats in the body. A person's lifestyle also plays an essential role in the weight gaining process.

If the person's Body Mass Index(BMI) is above 30, then he or she is obese or overweight. The weight gain by Lexapro is mainly seen among young adults.

The below study states that 2334 adults were under observation for four years, but they were separated into two groups. The weight gain was stronger among those who have an unhealthy or poor diet, sedentarism, smoking, etc. Overall weight gained was about 0.2kg. (Shi, Z., Atlantis, E., Taylor, A. W., Gill, T. K., Price, K., Appleton, S., Wong, M. L., & Licinio, J. (2017)

When people are depressed, their appetite changes; some people may not have the desire to eat, and others may overeat. The effect of Lexapro may be different for each person. People may experience weight gain, and some might lose weight.

Health Tips to manage your weight while taking Lexapro

If you gain weight through medication, it bothers you, and you think to stop the medication by observing changes in your body. Don't stop the drug immediately rather than follow some tips to manage your weight. It will not add extra fats and doesn't result in weight gain.

  • Keep a healthy routine to reduce extra weight, height without sacrificing Lexapro.
  • Many factors result in unintentional weight gain, so eat food which is not a source of fats, oils, etc. Avoid eating unprocessed foods, refined grains and sugar-sweetened beverages. Pay attention to your hunger level, bring yourself to the present moment, slowdowns while you eat and improve mindful eating habits.
  • Physical activity or Exercise reduces the symptoms of depression. So try to perform physical activity in your free time like jogging, going to a gym, playing any sport, which will help to keep your body moving. This is like eating green fruits and vegetables and consuming protein-related food when food craving increases by intake of Lexapro. In your daily routine, you should also invest your time in performing physical activity, etc.
  • You can switch your medication if the effect of Lexapro results in moderate weight gain. You can consult your healthcare provider for a better alternative option to replace Lexapro.

How to consume Lexapro?

  • Lexapro is available in oral tablets and oral solutions taken orally once a day with or without food.
  • Consume Lexapro at the same time every day to set a daily routine.
  • For children and adults with major depressive disorder(MDD), the usual dose is 10-20 mg once per day.
  • For older people and people with liver problems, the dose is 10mg taken a day.
  • Do not take a double dose or exceed the recommended dose.
  • If you forget to take the dose, take it when you remember or skip the dose altogether.
  • Lexapro may start working within four weeks or longer, so don't worry if you don't see improvement in your health immediately.
  • Don't stop consuming Lexapro when you feel better; your healthcare provider will gradually decrease your dose if necessary.
  • If you suddenly stop taking Lexapro, you will experience withdrawal effects like anxiety, changes in mood, irritability, confusion, etc.

What are the effects of Lexapro on the body?

Lexapro may affect each person differently. Besides weight gain, the most common symptoms of Lexapro are-

  • Insomnia
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Drowsiness
  • Headaches
  • Diarrhoea
  • Dry mouth
  • Dizziness
  • Stomach pain
  • Constipation
  • Heartburn
  • Sexual dysfunction(such as problems with ejaculation,decreased libido,etc)

When to consult a doctor?

If your symptoms are bothersome and worsen day by day, you immediately need medical advice. Below mentioned are some severe side effects which are dangerous and life-threatening-

  • Severe allergic reactions (swelling of the mouth, lips, tongue, and skin rash are swollen, itchy, red, or peeling skin).
  • Difficulty or Trouble breathing
  • Trouble talking
  • Hallucinations
  • Tightness in throat
  • Wheezing
  • Worsened depression
  • Suicidal thoughts and behaviours

Consult your healthcare provider if you have taken too much or overdosed on Lexapro because it can cause symptoms like vomiting, shaking, fast heart rate, etc.

Precautions

Before consuming Lexapro, your healthcare provider should know if you ever experience the following condition mentioned below

  • If you ever had an allergic reaction to other medication or Lexapro
  • If you are taking another antidepressant(SSRIs), other medicines or nutritional supplements.
  • If you have ever had epilepsy
  • If you ever had heart, liver or kidney problems.
  • If you are pregnant or trying to conceive a baby and breastfeeding mother
  • If you are older and above 65 years of age
  • Children younger than 12 years.

Conclusion

Weight gain or obesity is a natural factor affecting everyone's life. By consuming Lexapro, you may notice changes in your appetite. The effect of Lexapro on weight may differ from person to person, some people may experience weight gain, and some may not.

The weight gain by Lexapro is less than 0.5 per cent. So it doesn't make you overweight or obsessed. The risk of weight gain is more in adults who follow an unhealthy diet, sedentarism, smoking, etc. If the weight gain by Lexapro is more bothersome, don't stop immediately but consult a healthcare provider and follow the health tips to manage your weight appropriately.

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