Free & Confidential Drug Hotline. Call NOW:

Does Trazodone Cause Weight Gain: The Real Facts

Last Updated: January 11, 2022

Authored by Nena Messina, Ph.D.

Reviewed by Michael Espelin APRN

Trazodone is an antidepressant that works in the brain to help treat anxiety and depression. It does this by decreasing the levels of serotonin, noradrenaline, dopamine, acetylcholine, and histamine which are responsible for arousal. Low-dose Trazodone antagonizes 5-HT-2A receptor, H-1 receptor, and alpha-1 adrenergic receptors to produce a sedative effect. The medication has several side effects including people complaining of fattening up, though it is not common. However, does Trazodone cause weight gain? Studies show that second-generation antidepressants can be linked to long-term weight gain during treatment for anxiety or major depressive disorder. Compared to other antidepressants, Trazodone weight gain is common. But what causes it? Read on to find out more about Trazodone weight gain. Discover how the medication causes obesity in users.

Does Trazodone Cause Weight Gain?

When it comes to Trazodone classification, this antidepressant is from the drug class which is called serotonin modulators, which means that it stimulates serotonin, a natural brain chemical responsible for maintaining mental balance. This is accomplished by inhibiting the reuptake of serotonin using the same mechanism of action that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) use. Serotonin modulators are alternatives to SSRIs and SNRIs and have similar response rates.

Both Trazodone weight gain or loss are reported side effects, but the patients should be aware that this should not make them abruptly stop medication or change the dose. Stopping abruptly may result in serious health consequences. It is advisable to seek help in tapering off the medication to avoid inconveniences.

Here Are The Reasons Antidepressants Cause Weight Fluctuation:

  • Increase in appetite
  • Craving carbohydrates
  • Fat storage
  • Drug Interaction
  • Better taste
  • Hormone levels
  • Sedation
  • No motivation
  • Side effects
  • Social eating
  • Slow metabolism

Depression itself can lead to plumping up or losing some kilograms depending on the patient. Some people who are depressed may experience an increase in appetite leading to fleshing out. Others may lose their appetite which can lead to emaciation. Also, depression may cause tiredness and lack of activity which may, in turn, cause patients to put on extra pounds.

Trazodone pills and apple on the white backgroud.

Trazodone and Weight Gain: How Trazodone Causes An Increase in Weight

Trazodone weight gain is a rare side effect. The medication is more likely to cause weight loss than plumping up according to research. Other antidepressants make patients put on extra pounds as well. The research on why the medicine makes patients flesh out is limited, however, researchers have found some valuable information.

There are many factors that can lead to gaining extra pounds while on Trazodone and these include changes in appetite, fat storage, sedation, or a slowed metabolism to mention a few.

Increase in Appetite

Trazodone can increase or decrease the appetite of a patient. Some people report loss of appetite during treatment while others report an increase. Trazodone weight gain may occur because the loss of appetite is a usual symptom of depression. Once the condition is relieved, the patient’s taste is also restored, therefore gradually putting on extra flesh is possible. Other patients might experience cravings for specific types of food, such as carbohydrates or fat. Available information indicates that some patients experience an unusual craving for carbs while on treatment. This might be possible because the drug acts as a reuptake inhibitor and serotonin antagonist that might increase carbohydrate cravings, such as junk food, sugary food, or pasta.

Fat Storage

The drug might alter the body’s fat-storage mechanism, thereby disrupting the body’s homeostatic processes, resulting in more fat storage than before the treatment. This is similar to the fleshing out caused by ingesting antipsychotics. Information on the exact way it works is limited, but scientists believe it is related to the hormones sent from the fat(adipose) tissue and the stomach to the hypothalamus. Other information seems to suggest that the inhibition of serotonin, histamine, and dopamine receptors plays a major role in altering the mechanism that stores fat.

Drug Interaction

Any other medication taken while on Desyrel could interact synergistically and amplify a particular side effect such as getting heavier. It is therefore advisable to consult a medical doctor before mixing Desyrel with other medications. This is to avoid serious future health complications.

Better Taste

Depression might affect the taste and make people think that food is not tasty. Studies have established a strong connection between depression and altered tastes in adults 40 years above. It was concluded that major depressive disorder can cause altered smell and taste. Scientists believe it is caused by a reduction in serotonin and noradrenaline. Once on the treatment, patients usually experience an improvement in taste, leasing them to eat more and seek out food. Improved taste coupled with increased appetite indeed leads to gaining extra pounds.

Hormone Levels

The drug can cause hormone changes especially when taken for an extended duration. Available information has established the fact that Trazodone has negative effects on the reproductive system of adult males. The medication increases the testosterone levels of males by disrupting the hypothalamic-pituitary-testicular axis leading to testicular oxidative stress. Although the changes can be gradual and subtle, they can still affect the weight. Though there are no studies to back this claim.

Sedation

Desyrel is a relatively sedating antidepressant, usually prescribed for insomnia. The sedation level might be responsible for the patient getting heavier. The drug inhibits serotonin, noradrenaline, dopamine, and histamine which are neurotransmitters responsible for excitement. Being sedated the patient is less likely to exercise, leading to a slower metabolism.

No Motivation

Some patients experience a drop in motivation due to Trazodone, although their insomnia or physics improves. Trazodone is known to make patients feel lazy, especially in the first few days of treatment. This is due to the sedation effect which makes it difficult to work. The drug’s effect on the nervous system results in lethargy which encourages a sedentary lifestyle. This can then lead to putting on extra pounds since the patient does little to no work.

Side Effects

As already stated, one of the less common side effects of the drug is plumping up or emaciation. Trazodone weight gain can be induced by all the causes mentioned above. However, compared to gaining a few kilograms, Trazodone weight loss is slightly more common. Other side effects of this drug are fatigue, sleepiness, and feeling tired. Those who experience these symptoms will not be able to get enough exercise, also experiencing drug-induced lethargy.

Slow Metabolism

Many antidepressants also slow down metabolism. This is because antidepressants interfere with brain activity and body metabolism in the regulation of sugar and fat. Such interference is likely to increase when the patient has an episode of loss of appetite at the onset of depression. So, no matter how healthy the patient is eating and how much one exercise, they could still experience fleshing out.

Trazodone and Weight Gain: How Much Pounds Do People Gain On Trazodone?

As already discussed, Trazodone side effects weight gain occurs during the treatment of depression. However, how much weight does it add to the patient? No one can say precisely how much weight patients on Desyrel gain during the treatment. A study made on the medication showed that patients gained about 1.2-lb within the first six weeks of treatment. Although it might not seem a striking gain, taking the drug for a long time will also increase the chances of body mass increase. Trazodone side effects weight gain is mainly caused by the sedating effect and the urge to eat more while on treatment. Hormonal changes and alteration of fat storage caused by the medicine are also responsible for putting on flesh. To treat the addition of excess weight, patients are advised to seek help from a medical doctor. It is very risky to stop taking the medication cold turkey. Also, contact a physician before administering weight-inducing drugs together with Trazodone.

A woman asks a doctor about Trazodone and weight gain correlation.

Factors That Influence Plumping Up On Trazodone

Many factors influence mass gain in patients on Trazodone, such as dosage, duration of the treatment, genetics, habits, or if another medication is taken concomitantly. Some of these factors can be managed by switching medications. Other factors will need attention from a medical doctor. However, be sure to seek medical information before stopping a medication cold turkey due to fleshing out. This may have an adverse effect on your health.

Dosage

Trazodone includes tablets with immediate and extended-release that may make patients heavier. No matter which variation of the drug the patient is taking, a higher dose increases the chances of getting heavier. When a high dose is taken at once, there is more control of the drug over the neurochemistry and physiological functioning. This means that the body has difficulty in maintaining a normal appetite and healthy metabolism, which may even lead to Trazodone overdose.

Individual Factors

Individual factors such as dietary intake, stress level, overall lifestyle, genetics, baseline metabolism, physiology, and exercise habits also have an essential role when it comes to Trazodone and putting on extra flesh. The patient should evaluate these factors: if exercising was stopped, the level of stress has increased, or the dietary intake has changed since taking Trazodone. Many patients put the full blame on the medication, without paying attention to these factors.

Time Span

The duration of the treatment is also essential. Patients who have been taking Trazodone medication for an extended period, such as several years, are more likely to see a rise in pounds. Taking the pill for so long gives the drug more influence over the person’s psychology, which in time becomes more altered because of the drug. Therefore, the longer the treatment period, the higher the risk of alterations. Also, individuals who are on Desyrel for a long time usually end up increasing the dosage due to tolerance to a lower dose. As mentioned before, increasing the dosage and the drug-induced physiological alterations, lead to extra pounds.

Other Medications

Taking other medicines together with Desyrel might also be the cause for the extra pounds. There is the possibility that the other drugs also have side effects which include putting on extra pounds or that the two drugs develop a synergistic interaction leading to an increase in mass.

If the patient was already taking the other medication before Trazodone and did not experience any extra pounds, then the antidepressant can be the main culprit. But there is also the possibility that the other drugs could lead to gaining some pounds when used over time.

Trazodone and Weight Loss: Does Trazodone Emaciation?

The effect of the drug on the patient’s body mass cannot be predicted. In some patients, the drug causes fat loss and not fat gain. A study showed that 5.7 percent of 157 people who have been part of the study had lost weight while on Trazodone. In some patients losing weight is temporary and will eventually lead to getting heavier if the treatment extends over several months or years. There are several theories on Desyrel and melting off.

In some patients, the drug causes gastrointestinal side effects such as nausea, diarrhea, and loss of appetite. These symptoms will inevitably lead to slimming but fortunately, these side effects usually resolve over time.

How To Control Fattening Up On Trazodone?

Knowing beforehand that fleshing out is a potential side effect of Desyrel, the patient can make better choices when it comes to exercise and meals. Here are some of the options a patient has to prevent any changes in weight during the time of the treatment:

  • Exercise: If the current condition of the patient allows it, training is an excellent way to avoid any changes and to maintain overall health. Activity does not have to be intensive to show results. Walking or light yoga does not imply much effort, but still improves health and mood and keeps the patient mobilized.
  • Food cravings: Food cravings can be a side effect of Trazodone but giving in to sugar or carbs will make the situation worse. The patient should have proper portions of carbohydrates, proteins, and good fats that include fish, lean meat, olive oil, canola oil, beans, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
  • Small, frequent meals: In some patients, the appetite might increase while on Trazodone so instead of eating more, the patient should have smaller, more frequent meals. This will make the patient feel like consuming more calories because there is little time between meals to feel hungry.
  • Switching medication: In some cases, no matter what the patient might do, the mass changes still happen. Sometimes, talking to a doctor and changing the drug might be the solution. Usually, there are alternative treatment protocols or medicines, with the same effect on depression without influencing the patient’s weight.

Switching medication may offer the proper symptom control avoiding the mass change issue. If switching medications is impossible due to the developed dependence on the drug, substance abuse treatment is required. The trained professionals from drug addiction centers can help the patients overcome their dependence on this medication.

Hope Without Commitment

Find the best treatment options. Call our free and confidential helpline

Most private insurances accepted

Marketing fee may apply

Page Sources

  1. M. Fava, MD. (2000). Weight Gain And Antidepressants. J Clin Psychiatry. https://www.psychiatrist.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/18681_weight-gain-antidepressants.pdf
  2. P. Hadad. (2017). Antipsychotic Medication and Weight Gain. British Association for Psychopharmacology. https://www.bap.org.uk/articles/antipsychotic-medication-and-weight-gain/
  3. Blurt. (n.d). How Depression Can Affect Our Senses. Leaving With Depression. Managing Depression. Blurt. https://www.blurtitout.org/2019/04/11/depression-senses/
  4. NHS. (2018). Trazodone: A Medicine to Treat Anxiety and Depression. NHS. https://www.nhs.uk/medicines/trazodone/
  5. S. Wharton, L. Raiber, K. Serodio, J. Lee, R. Christensen. (2018). Medications That Cause Weight Gain and Alternatives in Canada: A Narrative Review. US National Library of Medicines. National Institutes of Health. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6109660/
  6. R. Weisler, J. Johnston, C. Lineberry, B. Samara, R. Branconnier, et al. (1994). Comparison of Bupropion and Trazodone for The Treatment of Major Depression. PubMed. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8027413
  7. N. Dusi, S. Barlati, A. Vita, P. Brambilla. (2015). Brain Structural Effects of Antidepressants in Major Depressive Disorder. Current Neuropharmacology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4850471/
  8. OAC. (2013). Prescription Medications & Weight Gain. OAC. https://www.obesityaction.org/community/article-library/prescription-medications-weight-gain/
  9. L. Sun. (2013) Trazodone Antidepressant, Used by Aaron Alexis, Described As ‘Very Safe’. The Washington Post.https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/trazodone-antidepressant-used-by-aaron-alexis-described-as-very-safe/2013/09/18/4336c044-20ae-11e3-966c-9c4293c47ebe_story.html
  10. M. Sakulsripong, H. Curran, M. Lader. (1991). Does Tolerance Develop To The Sedative and Amnesic Effects of Antidepressants?. Springer. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF00315137
  11. Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance. (n.d) How Can Lose Weight While on Antidepressants?. Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance. https://www.dbsalliance.org/education/ask-the-doc/how-can-i-lose-weight-while-on-antidepressants/
  12. R. Gafoor, H. Booth, M. Gulliford. (2018). Antidepressant Utilisation and Incidence of Weight Gain During 10 years’ Follow-up: Population-based Cohort Study. National Library of Medicines. National Institutes of Health. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5964332/
  13. University of Michigan Health. (n.d). Trazodone. University of Michigan Health. https://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/d00395a1
  14. D. Arterburn, T. Sofer, D. Boudreau, A. Bogart, E. Westbrook, et al. (2016). Long-term Weight Change After Initiating Second-Generation Antidepressants. Journal of Clinical Medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4850471/

Published on: April 1st, 2019

Updated on: January 11th, 2022

About Author

Nena Messina, Ph.D.

Nena Messina is a specialist in drug-related domestic violence. She devoted her life to the study of the connection between crime, mental health, and substance abuse. Apart from her work as management at addiction center, Nena regularly takes part in the educational program as a lecturer.

Medically Reviewed by

Michael Espelin APRN

8 years of nursing experience in wide variety of behavioral and addition settings that include adult inpatient and outpatient mental health services with substance use disorders, and geriatric long-term care and hospice care.  He has a particular interest in psychopharmacology, nutritional psychiatry, and alternative treatment options involving particular vitamins, dietary supplements, and administering auricular acupuncture.