Does trazodone cause weight gain? (6+ factors)
In this article, we will explore whether trazodone causes weight gain or not. Furthermore, we’ll discuss the potential impact of trazodone on weight, what research suggests on this, the factors that may influence weight while taking trazodone and how to manage weight while using trazodone.
Does trazodone cause weight gain?
Yes, trazodone can make you gain weight. Alterations in weight are considered common and potential side effects of trazodone, however, individuals are different in terms of their brain chemistry and how they respond to medications, especially antidepressants. So if one person taking trazodone experiences weight gain, others don’t need to experience this side effect too. (1)
Trazodone is approved by the FDA for treating patients suffering from major depressive disorders. It is classified as a SARI (serotonin receptor antagonist and reuptake inhibitor). It exerts its effect by increasing the levels of serotonin in the brain which is a neurotransmitter responsible for mood regulation and boosting motivation in individuals to alleviate the symptoms of depression and anxiety. (1,3)
If you have any concerns regarding weight gain from trazodone, it’s best to discuss them with your healthcare provider. Keep in mind that weight gain from trazodone is reversible and usually occurs during the initial phase of treatment when the body is not yet adjusted to the medication dosage. It can go away on its own over time.
How does trazodone affect weight?
The exact mechanism behind weight changes associated with trazodone is not fully clear. However, it is believed that alterations in serotonin levels may contribute to potential weight changes. (3)
Trazodone exerts its effects by increasing the levels of serotonin in the brain. This neurotransmitter is responsible for changes in your appetite, making you eat more than usual and hence leading to increased weight. (1,3)
Other than this serotonin also plays a crucial role in metabolic regulation. Therefore, trazodone may have metabolic effects that affect the way your body processes and stores energy. This may contribute to changes in weight. Studies suggest that some individuals may also experience fluid retention as a side effect of trazodone, this fluid buildup may lead to temporary weight gain. (4)
It’s important to recognize that weight changes from trazodone among individuals can vary as everyone reacts and processes medications differently. Other antidepressants like Effexor, Pristiq, sertraline etc that influence serotonin levels are also associated with increased weight as a potential side effect. (4)
What does research suggest?
According to research, trazodone is considered to have a more favourable side effect profile regarding weight gain as compared to some other antidepressants. However, researchers conducted a study on depressed patients. They gave amitriptyline to group A, trazodone to group B and a placebo (fake pill) to group C, to determine how these medications affect people’s weight. (2)
They increased the doses of amitriptyline by 200mg and trazodone by 400mg after 4 days in 272 people and continued this regimen for 6 weeks. They further split the people into two groups based on their initial weight (normal, overweight, 20% above, underweight and 20% below). (2)
They found out that people taking amitriptyline gained more weight especially those who were in normal and overweight groups while those taking trazodone had a small weight loss in the overweight group and increased weight in the normal group, but it wasn’t significant. (2)
What factors influence weight gain while taking trazodone?
Here are some factors that may influence weight in a person taking trazodone: (1,3)
- Dosage: The dose of trazodone may play a crucial role in influencing the weight of a person. People taking higher doses are more likely to experience weight gain as compared to lower doses.
- Duration of use: Long-term use of trazodone may have different effects on your weight as compared to short-term use. It’s easier to manage weight changes associated with short-term use as these side effects go on their own once the body is adjusted to the medication.
- Metabolic effects: Like other antidepressants, trazodone also influences a person’s metabolic process. Changes in serotonin levels affect how the body processes and stores energy and metabolizes drugs, potentially leading to changes in weight.
- Fluid retention: Some people may experience fluid buildup in their body as a side effect of trazodone. This may contribute to weight gain which is reversible once the excessive fluid is drained from the body.
- Appetite changes: Trazone affects serotonin levels in the brain and fluctuations in serotonin levels in turn influence your appetite, leading to more food intake and increasing weight.
- Sedation and reduced physical activity: Trazodone is known for its sedative properties and fatigue or drowsiness is a common adverse effect of its use. Tiredness may lead to decreased physical activity and a person can put on weight.
- Pre-existing health condition: If a person taking trazodone has certain pre-existing health conditions like metabolic disorders or hormonal imbalances, then these may also contribute to weight changes.
- Interaction with other medications: Interactions with other medications and substances can also influence a person’s weight. If you’re taking multiple medications concurrently, this may exacerbate the side effects of trazodone.
- Diet and lifestyle: Your dietary habits can greatly impact your weight. Consuming too many calories in a day or excessively eating junk food may lead to increased weight. Changes in eating patterns and reduced physical activity will cause more weight gain.
- Individual variation: Everyone reacts differently to medications and certain factors like their genetic makeup and metabolic health may play a role in influencing weight.
How to manage weight while using trazodone?
It’s important to manage your weight while you’re on trazodone or any other antidepressants. Make sure to schedule proper follow-up appointments with your healthcare provider and inform them how your body is reacting to the medication. Be vigilant and keep an eye on your weight changes. If you’re experiencing persistent weight gain ask your doctor to adjust your dose or explore some other antidepressant with fewer side effects. (1)
Ensure to eat a healthy diet along with fruits, vegetables and portion-controlled meals to avoid weight gain. Avoid eating junk and other high-calorie food. Increase your physical activity by working out daily. Go on a walk or do some cardio to burn your calories and stay active. Exercise can positively regulate your weight, improve mood and reduce the feeling of drowsiness caused by trazodone.
If you have a pre-existing medical history or suffering from any other condition that can influence your weight, have open communication with your healthcare provider so they may assess your overall health and make a customized treatment plan as per your needs. Keep yourself hydrated and avoid overconsumption of alcohol and other substances that may exacerbate trazodone’s side effects. (1)
What are the additional side effects of trazodone?
Some common side effects of trazodone might include: (3)
- Drowsiness or fatigue
- Dry mouth
- Lightheadedness or dizziness
- Blurred vision
- Gastrointestinal distress (nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea or constipation)
- Nervousness or anxiety
- Sexual sides (changes in sex drive, reduced libido, erectile dysfunction)
- Low blood pressure
- Serotonin syndrome
- Priapism (unusually long and painful erection)
Keep in mind that these side effects may vary in severity and not everyone necessarily experiences them.
As a pharmacist, in my opinion, weight changes are common with the use of antidepressants and they are not harmful as can be managed effectively. Just stick to the recommended dose and follow the instructions provided by your doctor about healthy eating and lifestyle changes to positively complement your treatment.
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National Library of Medicine, MedlinePlus Drug Information. Trazodone, [Internet]. Available from: https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a681038.html
Hecht Orzack M, Cole JO, Friedman L, Bird M, McEachern J. Weight changes in antidepressants: a comparison of amitriptyline and trazodone. Neuropsychobiology. 1986;15 Suppl 1:28-30. doi: 10.1159/000118237. PMID: 3725001. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/3725001/