Weight Gain Following Antidepressant Use Examined


Bottom Line: Modest differences exist between antidepressants with regard to weight gain among patients.

Authors: Sarah R. Blumenthal, B.S., Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, and colleagues

Background: Previous work has suggested an association between antidepressant use and weight gain. The potential health consequences could be significant because more than 10 percent of Americans are prescribed an antidepressant at any given time. Obesity is associated with a host of medical conditions, including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.

How the Study Was Conducted: Electronic health records from a large New England health care system were used to collect prescribing data and recorded weights for adult patients (age 18 to 65 years) prescribed one of 11 common antidepressants.

Results:  The authors identified 22,610 adults _ 19,244 adults treated with an antidepressant for at least three months and 3,366 who received a nonpsychiatric intervention. Compared with the antidepressant citalopram, patients treated with bupropion, amitriptyline and nortriptyline had a decreased rate of weight gain.

Discussion: “Taken together, our results clearly demonstrate significant differences between several individual antidepressant strategies in their propensity to contribute to weight gain. While the absolute magnitude of such differences is relatively modest, these differences may lead clinicians to prefer certain treatments according to patient preference or in individuals for whom weight gain is a particular concern.”

(JAMA Psychiatry. Published online June 4, 2014. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2014.414.

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