Does Sertraline cause sugar cravings? (+7 tips that can help)

In this article, we will discuss sugar cravings associated with Sertraline. We will also discuss some research studies on the effects of Sertraline on appetite and weight gain. We will also discuss some tips that may help if this side effect occurs.

Does Sertraline cause sugar cravings? 

Sertraline may cause sugar cravings in some individuals. However, it is not a common or frequently reported side effect. Sertraline is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) and these medications are known for causing weight in people (1). 

Sertraline, however, may not cause significant weight gain and some cases of appetite suppression have also been reported. If you are taking Sertraline and you constantly find yourself craving sugary foods, please discuss this with your healthcare provider. 

Giving in to such sugar cravings can lead to stubborn weight gain, which can further deteriorate your mental health by affecting your confidence and self-esteem. So, it is important to discuss these side effects with your doctor to prevent further complications. 

What does research suggest?

There is limited research on the effects of Sertraline on appetite and sugar cravings. Some studies have indicated that Sertraline may cause sugar cravings due to its mechanism of action. primarily works by increasing the availability of serotonin in the brain (2). 

Serotonin is known to play a role in mood regulation and appetite control. Some studies suggest that the alteration of serotonin levels can impact the brain’s reward system, leading to cravings for foods high in sugar and carbohydrates – which can potentiate weight gain (3).  

However, the exact pathways and mechanisms involved are not fully understood, and more research is needed to establish a definitive link. The incidence of increased sugar cravings as a side effect of Sertraline varies from person to person. 

Not everyone taking this medication experiences this effect, and its severity can also differ. Some research studies, however, have indicated that Sertraline can reduce appetite and may lead to weight loss, as compared to other SSRIs (4). 

What to do if Sertraline triggers sugar cravings?

If Sertraline triggers sugar cravings, talk to your healthcare provider. Sertraline-induced side effects generally begin to fade away as your body adjusts to the medication. However, some people may experience persistent side effects. 

If Sertraline is affecting your eating patterns and making you gain weight, your doctor may try and reduce your dose to see if it makes any difference. In general clinical practice, patients are advised to opt for a healthy diet and give the antidepressant some time to settle in. 

However, if Sertraline continues to make you crave sugary foods or make you gain weight, your doctor may safely switch to another medication. Just make sure you do not make any changes to your prescription on your own.

Important tips to manage Sertraline-induced sugar cravings

Some helpful tips to manage Sertraline-induced sugar cravings include:

  • Instead of indulging in processed sugary snacks, opt for naturally sweet alternatives like fresh fruits. Fruits provide natural sugars along with essential nutrients, making them a healthier choice.
  • Explore recipes for healthy desserts that use natural sweeteners like honey or agave syrup in moderation. These can satisfy your sweet tooth without the added calories of refined sugar.
  • Try keto-friendly desserts. These are designed to be low in carbohydrates and sugars, making them a suitable option for those trying to reduce sugar intake.
  • Replace sugar with stevia, which is a natural, calorie-free sweetener derived from a plant (5).
  • Engaging in regular physical activity can help balance the calories you consume. Exercise also releases endorphins, which can improve mood and reduce cravings.
  • Ensure your overall diet is well-rounded and includes all essential nutrients. A balanced diet can help reduce cravings by providing your body with the nutrients it needs.
  • Stay away from sweetened beverages like soda, energy drinks, or excessive fruit juices. Opt for water, herbal tea, or sparkling water with a splash of citrus for a refreshing, low-sugar alternative.

Remember, giving in to your sugar cravings can make you gain weight, which can affect your mental health. Discussing your concerns with your doctor is important to make the most out of your antidepressant.


In this article, we have discussed sugar cravings associated with Sertraline use. We have also discussed what one should do if this side effect occurs and some tips that can help you manage your sugar cravings without gaining a tremendous amount of weight.


  1. National Library of Medicine. Sertraline: MedlinePlus Drug Information [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): U.S. National Library of Medicine. Available from: 
  1. Singh HK, Saadabadi A. Sertraline. 2023 Feb 13. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan–. PMID: 31613469. Available from: 
  1. Shi Z, Atlantis E, Taylor AW, Gill TK, Price K, Appleton S, Wong ML, Licinio J. SSRI antidepressant use potentiates weight gain in the context of unhealthy lifestyles: results from a 4-year Australian follow-up study. BMJ Open. 2017 Aug 11;7(8):e016224. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2017-016224. PMID: 28801419; PMCID: PMC5629701. 
  1. Fava M, Judge R, Hoog SL, Nilsson ME, Koke SC. Fluoxetine versus sertraline and paroxetine in major depressive disorder: changes in weight with long-term treatment. J Clin Psychiatry. 2000 Nov;61(11):863-7. doi: 10.4088/jcp.v61n1109. PMID: 11105740. 
  1. Arumugam B, Subramaniam A, Alagaraj P. Stevia as a Natural Sweetener: A Review. Cardiovasc Hematol Agents Med Chem. 2020;18(2):94-103. doi: 10.2174/1871525718666200207105436. PMID: 32031079. 

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