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If you’re considering taking Celexa (citalopram) for your mental health, it’s important to understand the potential side effects. A frequent question for many is “does Celexa cause weight gain?” Though there’s no definite answer, certain selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants — including Celexa — have been found to potentially contribute to increased body mass and body weight change.  

Here we’re looking at Celexa and weight gain and how to manage it if it’s a side effect you experience. We’ll also discuss weight loss strategies while still taking Celexa, so you can decide whether this SSRI antidepressant medication and its common side effects are right for you.

How Much Weight Do You Gain on Celexa?

Slight weight gain is a common side effect when taking an SSRI antidepressant such as Celexa. While the weight gained varies from person to person and depends on many factors, it’s usually minimal — some research suggests weight gain in people taking antidepressants is typically no more than 6 pounds over the course of 2 years. 

That said, it’s difficult to predict how much, if any, Celexa weight gain you may have because everyone responds differently to medications and has different body chemistry and lifestyle habits that could impact weight. Studies show that people who are initially underweight when they start taking antidepressants are more likely to gain weight as a result of their treatment plan. Also, unsurprisingly, in studies, those with an unhealthy lifestyle might be more prone to significant weight gain after starting antidepressants. 

What causes more weight gain — Celexa or Lexapro?

Celexa and Lexapro are two commonly prescribed antidepressants to manage depression symptoms. They’ve both been known to potentially cause slight, but usually minimal, weight gain as a Celexa side effect. However, The National Library of Medicine has linked decreased appetite to Lexapro, which in theory, might lead to Celexa having more potential to cause weight gain. More a more in-depth comparison of these two medications, check out our article on Celexa vs. Lexapro.

“While patients on Celexa or Lexapro have reported weight gain, it’s always important to work closely with your prescriber to understand why. SSRIs boost serotonin, which impacts behavior and has been shown to increase appetite, which may result in weight gain but not necessarily cause it. When taking any new medications, remember well-established routines can help promote optimal effect and also overall health.”

Talkspace therapist Elizabeth Keohan, LCSW-C, LICSW, LCSW

Possible Causes of Weight Gain from Celexa

It’s not always easy to pinpoint the exact cause of this Celexa side effect, but some factors are widely believed to be possible contributors. 

Increase in appetite

One possible cause of Celexa weight gain is an increase in appetite. People who take Celexa often report feeling hungrier and craving more food than usual. This can lead to overeating and, consequently, weight gain over time. Additionally, certain foods can trigger cravings, contributing to unwanted body weight change if not appropriately managed.

Metabolic changes

Another potential factor for gaining weight on Celexa is metabolic changes caused by the drug itself. Some people experience slowed metabolism due to their medication use which means that calories are burned off more slowly, leading to gradual but steady increases in body mass index (BMI).

Sluggishness

Many individuals report weariness or sluggishness when taking this drug, making exercising tough in some cases. Coupled with increased appetite and slowed metabolism, lack of exercise may cause additional, and even significant weight gain. 

Can You Lose Weight While Taking Celexa?

Yes, it’s possible to shed pounds while on Celexa. Managing weight gain on Celexa may seem difficult, but with the right resources and knowledge, maintaining or losing weight is possible.  

How to Manage Weight Gain on Celexa

With the following tips, you can get a hold on managing weight gain from Celexa.

First, maintain a healthy and balanced diet. Eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains will help maintain your metabolism and prevent unhealthy cravings. 

You also want to be sure to get enough sleep each night. Lack of sleep can lead to increased hunger hormones like ghrelin which can cause overeating or binge eating.

Stay active, as physical activity helps boost mood-regulating neurotransmitters like serotonin which may be affected by the medication. For optimal mental health, strive for 30 minutes of moderate physical activity, such as walking or swimming, daily.  

Finally, consider talking to a mental health professional about how best to manage any changes in appetite or Celexa and weight gain. A therapist can help you learn to use healthy coping strategies when dealing with cravings or stressful eating behaviors that may contribute to weight gain. With the right combination of lifestyle modifications and psychological support, you can manage any potential side effects from Celexa use, including weight gain.

If you’re concerned about the side effects of Celexa, please talk to a doctor first. You should always consult with a licensed professional before you consider stopping any medication, as withdrawal from Celexa can occur.

“We must remember that any new medication’s goal is to decrease negative symptoms. I always encourage clients to remember that healthy routines beget optimal outcomes. Even when symptoms improve, we still have to do the “work” to remain healthy, which includes sleep, exercise, and nutrition, and requires self-education outside of our providers. It is not impossible to manage things effectively, using the tools and support from therapy, together with a thoughtful routine.”

Talkspace therapist Elizabeth Keohan, LCSW-C, LICSW, LCSW

Find Out If Celexa is Right for You with Talkspace

Getting control over Celexa weight gain can be difficult, but it’s possible with the right resources and knowledge. If you’re considering taking Celexa for your mental health needs, Talkspace can help. Our online psychiatry and therapy platform provides a convenient and safe way to access quality care from home. We offer personalized treatment plans tailored to your needs, including medication management services, so you can confidently consider getting Celexa online if your doctor recommends it to treat your depression or other mental health condition.

Sources: 

Arterburn D, Sofer T, Boudreau D, et al. Long-term weight change after initiating second-generation antidepressants. Journal of Clinical Medicine. 2016;5(4):48. doi:10.3390/jcm5040048. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4850471/pdf/jcm-05-00048.pdf. Accessed March 1, 2023.  

Uher R, Mors O, Hauser J, et al. Changes in body weight during pharmacological treatment of depression. The International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology. 2010;14(03):367-375. doi:10.1017/s1461145710000933. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20716398/. Accessed March 1, 2023.  

Shi Z, Atlantis E, Taylor AW, et al. SSRI antidepressant use potentiates weight gain in the context of unhealthy lifestyles: Results from a 4-year Australian follow-up study. BMJ Open. 2017;7(8). doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2017-016224. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5629701/. Accessed March 1, 2023.  

Escitalopram. MedlinePlus. https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a603005.html. Accessed March 1, 2023. 

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