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Weight Gain and Mood Stabilizers like Prozac and other SSRI drugs and Lithium

Abstract: There is a risk of weight gain with some (not all) SSRI medicines and Lithium.

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Weight Gain and Mood Stabilizers like Prozac and other SSRI drugs and Lithium

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Written by: Martin Winkler
First version: 22 Jul 2008.
Latest revision: 29 Jul 2008.

What is the effect of mood stabilizer on weight ? I am concerned about a possible weight gain due to my mood-stabilizer (valproate). Any tips?


Mood stabilizers (lithium, valproate, carbamazepine) can be used in a highly effective therapy for recurrent types of depression and bipolar mania and have been useful in treating some other indications of deficient impulse control.

However, many patients are concerned about possible side effects or weight gain.

A recent study (Oct 2002) investigated the changes of body weight and body mass index among patiatric patients receiving lithium, valproate or a new mood stabilizer called topiramate. This was not a randomised study, but the results might be interesting:

A total of 214 patients (123 men, 91 women with an average age of 39,4 years) were included.

Patients on Lithium or Valproate had a weight gain of 6.3 (9.0) kg, while patients receiving Topiramate had a weight reduction of 1.2 kg. Lithium and valproate treated patients had an increase of Body Mass index (BMI) of 2.1, while the topiramate group had a reduction of BMI of 0.5.

Not all patients will be possible candidates for a topiramate medication. But it might be an idea to address the possibility to change to this medication if severe weight problems have occurred.

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