September 5


Say Goodbye to Antidepressants and Hello to a Slimmer You: How Long Does it Take to Lose Weight After Stopping

By Joshua Turner

September 5, 2023

Antidepressants are commonly prescribed for the treatment of depression and anxiety. However, one of the side effects of these medications is weight gain. It can frustrate those struggling with their mental health and body image. Many people wonder how long it takes to lose weight after discontinuing them.

The answer to this question is not straightforward. The time it takes to lose weight after quitting them depends on several factors, including the individual’s metabolism, dosage and duration, and diet and exercise habits.

Weight loss should not be the primary focus here. The priority should be managing symptoms and working with a healthcare provider to ensure a safe and gradual tapering process.

Key Takeaways

  • The time it takes to lose weight after stopping varies depending on individual factors.
  • The focus should be on managing symptoms and working with a healthcare provider for a safe and gradual tapering process.
  • Diet and exercise habits play a role in losing weight after discontinuing them.

Understanding Antidepressants and Weight Gain

Antidepressants are commonly prescribed for individuals with depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as Paxil, Escitalopram, Citalopram, Prozac, Fluoxetine, Zoloft, and Sertraline are among the most commonly prescribed antidepressants.

They work by increasing neurotransmitters in the brain, such as serotonin, which can improve mood and reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.

However, one of SSRIs’ most common side effects is weight gain. It can be a frustrating and discouraging experience for individuals who are already struggling with their mental health. Some people may gain a few pounds, while others may gain a significant amount.

It is not entirely clear why SSRIs can cause weight gain, but it is thought to be related to changes in appetite and metabolism. In some cases, the medication may increase cravings for high-calorie foods or decrease metabolism, making it easier to gain weight.

Other types, such as serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) like Venlafaxine and Duloxetine, and tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) like Bupropion (Wellbutrin), may also cause weight gain. However, the risk may be lower than with SSRIs.

If you are experiencing weight gain while taking these, talk to your doctor. They may be able to adjust your medication or provide other strategies to help manage your weight.

The Process of Stopping Antidepressants

Work closely with your doctor or physician to develop a plan that’s tailored to your specific needs. This plan may involve tapering off the medication slowly over weeks or months, which can minimize the risk of withdrawal symptoms.

Withdrawal symptoms can occur when you stop taking them ranging from mild to severe. Some common symptoms include dizziness, nausea, headache, irritability, and insomnia. Your doctor may recommend other treatments to help manage these symptoms.

Weaning off antidepressants can be complex, and following your doctor’s instructions is necessary. The medication’s half-life can also affect how long it takes to stop taking it fully. Your doctor can guide you on the best way to taper off based on its half-life and your needs.


There are some risks associated with stopping, including the risk of relapse. Working closely with your doctor to monitor your symptoms and make any necessary adjustments to your treatment plan is vital. With the proper support and guidance, it is possible to stop taking them and manage any associated symptoms successfully.

Physical Symptoms of Stopping Antidepressants

Stopping can cause various physical symptoms, including fatigue, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and electric shock sensations. These symptoms can be uncomfortable and may last several weeks or months.

Insomnia is another common physical symptom. You may find it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep, leading to fatigue and irritability during the day. Headaches are also common and can be caused by changes in neurotransmitter levels in the brain.

Many people report experiencing “brain zaps” or “brain shivers” when they stop taking them. These sensations can feel like an electric shock or jolt in the brain. They can be accompanied by dizziness and confusion. Mood swings, irritability, and suicidal thoughts can also occur, especially if you stop taking your medication abruptly.

Everyone’s experience is different. Some people may not experience any physical symptoms at all, while others may experience several. If you are considering quitting your medication, talk to your doctor first and make a plan to do so safely and gradually.

The Role of Diet and Exercise

Losing weight  is not easy, but it is possible. Diet and exercise are components in helping you shed those extra pounds. A balanced fiber, protein, and carbohydrate diet can help you maintain a healthy weight.

Regular physical activity can burn calories and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Engage in activities you enjoy, such as walking, jogging, or swimming. Even a simple 30-minute brisk walk daily can significantly impact your weight loss journey.

Keep track of your calorie intake. Avoid snacking and try to eat a healthy breakfast every day. If you have food cravings, opt for fruits and nuts. Consider joining a gym or hiring a personal trainer if you need help.

Supplements can also help support your efforts to lose weight but should not be relied upon as the sole solution. Maintain good eating habits and avoid water retention.

Incorporating vitamins in your diet can also provide health benefits and support weight loss. A balanced diet that includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins can provide all the necessary vitamins and minerals for a healthy body. The key to losing weight is to stay committed to a healthy lifestyle that includes a balanced diet and regular exercise.

Mental Health and Weight Loss

Maintaining a healthy weight can be challenging for anyone but tough for those with mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety. These conditions can affect mood, appetite, and motivation, making it harder to stick to a healthy diet and exercise routine.

Some medications used to treat mental health conditions, such as mood stabilizers and antidepressants, can cause weight gain as a side effect. This can be frustrating for those trying to lose weight, as it may feel like an uphill battle.


Mental health should always be the top priority. If you are struggling with depression or anxiety, seeking treatment from a qualified mental health professional is essential. This may include medication, psychotherapy, or cognitive-behavioral therapy.

While losing weight may be a goal for some, approach it healthily and sustainably. This may involve working with a registered dietitian or nutritionist to develop a balanced meal plan and incorporating physical activity into your daily routine.

The key to successful weight loss is to focus on overall health and well-being rather than just the number on the scale. Taking care of your mental health and making positive lifestyle changes can achieve a healthy weight and improve your overall quality of life.

How Long It Takes to Lose Weight

Losing weight can be a slow and challenging process. The time it takes to lose weight varies depending on several factors, such as the individual’s metabolism, diet, exercise routine, and lifestyle habits.

Studies have shown that individuals taking antidepressants for a long time tend to gain more weight than those who have been on them for a shorter duration. It is because they can slow down metabolism, making it harder for the body to burn fat.

To lose weight, adopt a healthy and balanced diet. It means eating foods low in fat, sugar, and calories and high in protein, fiber, and nutrients. Regular exercise, such as cardio and strength training, is also necessary to help burn calories and build muscle.

Losing weight too quickly can harm your health. Aiming for 1-2 pounds per week is recommended. This gradual loss of pounds will be healthier and more sustainable in the long run.

Losing weight can be challenging and requires patience and dedication. Adopting a healthy diet and exercise routine can help individuals gradually lose weight and improve their health.

Managing Side Effects and Symptoms

Be aware of potential side effects that may occur. These can include nausea, dizziness, fatigue, and headaches. If you experience these symptoms, you must speak with your doctor or physician to manage them effectively.

One common side effect is changes in appetite. Some people may experience increased hunger, while others may lose their appetite. Monitor your eating habits and discuss any concerns with your doctor or pharmacist.

It’s also important to know the risks of stopping them without proper medical supervision. Abruptly stopping medication can lead to withdrawal symptoms, including mood swings, irritability, and flu-like symptoms. Your doctor can help you develop a plan to taper off your medicine safely.

In some cases, pill splitters or timers can help manage medication schedules. Your pharmacist can also guide you on taking your medication correctly and any potential drug interactions.

Managing side effects and symptoms requires open communication with your doctor or physician. Working together can develop a plan to address potential side effects and ensure a safe and effective transition off your medication.

The Role of Serotonin and Other Neurotransmitters

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood, appetite, and sleep. Antidepressants work by increasing the levels of serotonin in the brain, which helps to alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety. However, when you stop taking them, your brain’s serotonin levels can drop, leading to withdrawal symptoms and a decrease in mood.


Dopamine and norepinephrine are other neurotransmitters that can be affected. These neurotransmitters are involved in regulating motivation, pleasure, and alertness. When you stop taking them, your brain may have trouble regulating these neurotransmitters, which can decrease motivation and energy.

The effects on neurotransmitters can vary depending on the individual and the type of antidepressant they are taking. Some people may experience more severe withdrawal symptoms than others, while some may not experience any symptoms at all.

Work with a healthcare provider to slowly taper off medications to minimize the risk of withdrawal symptoms and to ensure that your brain has time to adjust to the changes in neurotransmitter levels.

Serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine in the brain are complex, and the effects of quitting them can vary. Work with a healthcare provider to develop a plan for tapering off them and to monitor your symptoms closely during the process.

Benefits and Risks of Stopping Antidepressants

Understanding the potential consequences before changing your medication regimen is vital.


  • Short-term side effects such as nausea, dizziness, and insomnia may improve.
  • Sexual dysfunction, a common side effect, may resolve.
  • They can cause weight gain, and stopping them may help with their efforts to shed some pounds.
  • Some people may feel more like themselves and regain their emotional range.


  • Withdrawal symptoms, including irritability, anxiety, and flu-like symptoms.
  • Depression and anxiety symptoms may return or worsen, leading to a relapse.
  • In some cases, stopping them can be dangerous, especially if the person has severe depression or is at risk of suicide.
  • Quitting them can also affect wellness, decreasing quality of life and social functioning.

Abruptly stopping medication can be dangerous and can lead to severe withdrawal symptoms. Monitor symptoms closely and seek medical attention if symptoms worsen or new symptoms develop.

The Role of Hormones in Weight Loss

Serotonin, the neurotransmitter targeted by antidepressants, is also responsible for regulating appetite and metabolism. When you stop taking them, your serotonin levels can fluctuate, impacting your weight.

Another hormone is cortisol, the stress hormone. Cortisol can increase blood sugar levels and insulin resistance, making it harder to lose weight. Stress can also lead to emotional eating and cravings for high-calorie foods, sabotaging your efforts.

Blood sugar levels also contribute to weight loss. When blood sugar levels are high, insulin is released, which can lead to fat storage. Eating a diet high in refined carbohydrates and sugar can cause blood sugar levels to spike and crash, making it harder to lose weight.

Hormones and blood sugar levels are factors that can be affected by antidepressants. Maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly is necessary to support your efforts.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take for the weight to normalize after stopping antidepressants?

The time it takes for weight to normalize varies from person to person. Some people may experience it within a few weeks, while others may take several months or years. Maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly is vital to support weight normalization.

What are some successful strategies for losing weight after stopping antidepressants?

Some successful strategies for losing weight include increasing physical activity, eating a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, drinking plenty of water, and getting enough sleep. It may also be helpful to seek support from a healthcare professional or a support group.

Can you lose weight after stopping antidepressants?

Yes, it may take time and effort to achieve weight loss goals. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and seeking support from a healthcare professional or a support group is critical.

Why does weight gain occur after stopping antidepressants?

Weight gain may occur due to appetite, metabolism, and hormonal balance changes. It is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle and seek support from a healthcare professional or a support group to manage weight gain.

What are some tips for managing weight after discontinuing antidepressants?

Some tips for managing weight include maintaining a healthy diet, engaging in regular physical activity, getting enough sleep, and seeking support from a healthcare professional or a support group. It may also be helpful to track food intake and exercise using a journal or app.

How long does it typically take to see weight loss after stopping antidepressants?

The time it takes to see weight loss varies from person to person. Some people may experience it within a few weeks, while others may take several months or years. It is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle and seek support from a healthcare professional or a support group to achieve your goals.

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