Weight Gain and Depression: Is there a Link?

Weight Gain and Depression

In honor of May as Mental Health Awareness Month, we at EVEXIA MEDICAL would like to share the link between weight gain and depression.

How many people are dealing with Weight Gain and Depression?

Depression is a prevalent mental health condition in the United States and affects more that 21 million adults annually. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, rates of Depression among adults vary over time and women are affected at higher rates than men. Over the course of their lives, approximately 21% of adults will experience a major depressive episode. In parallel, over 80% of the US adult population is affected by overweight or obesity. Obesity is linked with over 200 medical conditions. Studies have shown a close relationship between Depression and weight changes, where both conditions can influence each other. Adults with obesity have a 55% increased risk of developing depression, while adults with depression have a 58% increased risk of developing obesity1.


The link between weight gain and depression is complex and bidirectional, meaning that each condition can contribute to the development or exacerbation of the other. Here are some of the ways that can happen:

  1. Psychological Factors: Obesity can lead to low self-esteem, poor body image, and social stigma all of which contribute to Depression.
  2. Biological Factors: Obesity is associated with chronic inflammation and dysregulation of serotonin and dopamine, which are also implicated in Depression.
  3. Lifestyle Factors: Unhealthy eating habits, lack of Physical Activity, disrupted sleep patterns associated with Obesity contribute to Depression.
  4. Genetic Factors: There may be shared genetic predispositions for both diseases and researchers are investigating the exact mechanisms that link the two.
  5. Social Factors: Socioeconomic status, Access to healthcare, Cultural norms, Food and Housing insecurities all influence both Obesity and Depression.
  6. Medication Side Effects: Some medications used for Depression or other medical conditions can cause weight gain, which further enhances symptoms of Depression.


Yes, some antidepressant medications are associated with weight gain as a side effect. Here is a list:

  • Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs): TCAs including amitriptyline (Elavil®), imipramine (Tofranil®) and norptriptyline (Pamelor®)
  • Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs): MAOIs like phenelzine (Nardil®) and tranclycypromine (Parnate®)
  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs): While SSRIs are generally considered to have fewer weight-related side effects compared to TCAs and MAOIs, some individuals may experience weight gain with paroxetine (Paxil®) and sertraline (Zoloft®).
  • Mirtazapine (Remeron®): This antidepressant is notable for its side effect of appetite stimulation.

Not everyone will experience weight gain while taking antidepressants, and individuals may respond differently to various medications. Additionally, some newer antidepressants, such as bupropion (Wellbutrin®) are less likely to cause weight gain and may even lead to weight loss in some patients.

At EVEXIA MEDICAL, we perform a thorough medical evaluation and review all your current medications to determine if any may contribute to weight gain. By working with your primary care doctor, we suggest other medications that can help treat Depression that are weight neutral, meaning no additional weight gain, or suggest other medication that can also assist with additional weight loss, such as Wellbutrin®.


Yes, having Depression may indeed make it more challenging to lose weight. Several factors contribute to this difficulty such as changes in appetite, which may result in overeating. Decreased Physical Activity, because Depression can zap motivation and energy levels, making it harder to engage in, initiate and stay motivated. Stress levels can trigger emotional eating behaviors and one may turn to food for comfort or distraction from negative emotions leading to overeating, difficulty with sticking to a healthy meal plan or health goal. Depression can also disrupt sleep patterns, leading to poor quality and quantity of sleep. Sleep deprivation affects hormones that influence hunger and satiety, and leave us feeling tired, craving sweet and salty snacks, and making adherence to small portions a challenge. Have you ever had a rough day and felt like eating a whole pizza or a pint of ice cream would make you feel better?


It is essential for individuals struggling with depression and weight to seek support from a trained healthcare professional who can provide personalized guidance and support while understanding the complex relationship between these two medical conditions. Despite the link between Depression and Weight Gain, that does not mean you should give up on your health and weight loss goals. Start with making small changes. Losing weight and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can improve your mental health by reducing stress, boosting self-confidence, and increasing your energy levels.

  1. Lv N, et al. Integrated Behavioral Interventions for Adults with Comorbid Obesity and Depression: a Systematic Review. Curr Diab Rep. 2022 Apr;22(4):157-68.

EVEXIA MEDICAL is here to help. As part of our medical program, you are paired with a double board-certified Obesity Medicine Doctor, Wellness Coach, Smart scale + app that enables remote monitoring and an individualized treatment plan to help you reach your health goals. Our Medical Doctor performs a comprehensive evaluation to better understand your history and current health and weight loss goals. Appointments can be scheduled online or by calling 561-621-1096.

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