Do Antidepressants Cause Weight Loss?

Wellbutrin works much like Meridia, the most recent appetite suppressant approved by the FDA. However, it is less likely to cause an increase in high blood pressure than Meridia. It is also often covered by medical insurance, where Meridia rarely is. Wellbutrin is identical to Zyban, just marketed in a different container. For that reason, we often recommend Wellbutrin to cigarette smokers trying to lose weight. [1] [2]

In what could be hailed as a pharmaceutical triple crown, the antidepressant and smoking cessation drug bupropion SR has shown promising weight loss effects in nondepressed patients. At the 152nd Annual Meeting of the American Psychiatric Association, Duke University Medical Center psychiatrist Kishore Gadde, MD, presented results from a pilot trial. “The drug group lost four times more weight than the placebo group,” Dr. Gadde told Medcast News Networks. “The results were much more exciting than we expected initially.” The eight week, randomized, double-blind study involved 50 obese women, aged 24-51 years, who received bupropion or placebo while restricted to a 1,600 calorie diet. Bupropion showed a striking impact on weight loss in subjects who both dropped out of the eight week study, and those that completed it.

Women taking bupropion lost up to four times more weight compared with the placebo group. Among the women who completed the trial, 67 percent lost more than 5 percent of their body weight with the drug, compared to 15 percent of placebo recipients. The only side effect reported was dry mouth. The women who completed the study on bupropion lost an average of 13.7 pounds of their original weight, compared to 3.4 pounds for those taking the placebo. 32 percent of placebo patients withdrew from the study, but only 4 percent of bupropion takers withdrew.

Another study, published in 2002 [3], also showed significantly better weight loss among those taking Wellbutrin. In this study, some were prescribed the usual 300 mg/day while others took 400 mg/day. Those taking Wellbutrin lost an average of 13 lbs (5.8 kg) in 12 weeks compared to 6 lbs (2.8 kg) in the placebo group. 57% of patients taking Wellbutrin lost 5% or more of their weight compared to only 28% in the placebo group.

1 Weight Loss Results ‘Exciting, Promising’ in Widely Used Drug for Depression and Smoking Cessation 05/20/1999 PR Newswire (Copyright (c) 1999, PR Newswire)

2 Still, Researcher Refrains from Clinical Recommendations of Bupropion SR WASHINGTON, May 20 /PRNewswire/

3 Jain AK et. al. Obes Res. 2002;10:1049-1056.