One of the unwanted side effects that users complain about antidepressants is that the medication causes them to gain weight. A new study, however, claims that there are certain antidepressants that could result in minimal weight gain.

For the study "An Electronic Health Records Study of Long-Term Weight Gain Following Antidepressant Use" which was published in the JAMA Psychiatry on June 4, Roy Perlis, from the Center for Experimental Drugs and Diagnostics of the Department of Psychiatry at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and colleagues examined the changes in the body weight of more than 22,000 individuals who were prescribed with different antidepressant medications. The objective of the study was to determine the weight gain associated with the use of certain antidepressant drugs.

The researchers found that after 12 months of taking antidepressants, patients who take citalopram (Celexa), a type of antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and which includes Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft, were the ones who were most likely to gain weight while patients who take nortriptyline (Sensoval), amitriptyline (Elavil), or bupropion (Wellbutrin) gained significantly less weight compared with those who take Celexa.

Rohan Ganguli, from Toronto's Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, said that although Wellbutrin is associated with minimal weight gain, it isn't always the first choice as treatment for depression because it can interfere with sleep and intensifies anxiety. Ganguli nonetheless considers discussing the results of the study with patients who are concerned about gaining weight.

The study, which was funded by the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health, also found that although there are concerns that using antidepressant drugs can make people fat, the weight gain is actually modest and gradual.

"Really, these antidepressants are very similar in their potential to cause a small amount of weight gain," Perlis said. "We're talking, on average, of a gain of about one to two pounds over the course of a year. So it's not huge amounts."

Still, the researchers said that their findings could be helpful for physicians when prescribing treatment for individuals who are very concerned about gaining weight.

"Our results clearly demonstrate significant differences between several individual antidepressant strategies in their propensity to contribute to weight gain," the researchers wrote. "While the absolute magnitude of such differences is relatively modest, these differences may lead clinicians to prefer certain treatments according to patient preference or in individuals for whom weight gain is a particular concern."

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