It’s not uncommon for prescription medication to come with side effects, but oftentimes those side effects take the form of an unseen feeling (think nausea, headaches or drowsiness) as opposed to a physical change or ailment that’s visible to the eye. However, a new study published in The BMJ has found that there’s one drug that can lead to a physical change in quite a few users, leaving patients able to visibly see the side effects of their daily medications.
According to the study, antidepressants have been linked with weight gain, Time reports. To come to this conclusion, researchers gathered information from the UK Clinical Practice Research Datalink, pulling health records of 295,000 people of all different weights. Then, the health records were examined for antidepressant use and weight gain over time, keeping in mind other weight influences like age, disease diagnoses, and lifestyle choices like smoking or other drug use.
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After examination, researchers found that those who were prescribed antidepressants during the first year of the study had a 21 percent higher chance that they’d gain a minimum of 5 percent of their beginning body weight over the 10 years that were tracked. It was also found that weight gain peaked during the second and third year of taking the medication, continuing to increase over the following years.
“Patients who were normal weight were more likely to transition to overweight, and overweight patients were more likely to transition to obesity if they were treated with antidepressants,” the study’s co-author Rafael Gafoor, a primary care and public health researcher at King’s College London, told Time.
While this study generalizes antidepressants as a singular category with the same results, the outcomes were discovered to be more profound in people taking mirtazapine (also known as Remeron) and Citalopram (also known as Celexa).
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Although, it’s important to note that this study comes with quite a few limitations. The most noteworthy being that the study only examines those who were prescribed antidepressants, not necessarily those who regularly take them. So, because it wasn’t possible to monitor whether or not the patients studied were actually taking their medications as directed, the results may be skewed.
Ultimately, these findings shouldn’t deter people from taking antidepressants. After all, mental health is extremely important, and as long as patients research and discuss their options with a medical professional, treatment results will generally be more favorable.
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