Does Phentermine Really Cause Depression?

Published on May 13, 2024
grayscale photo of a woman's hand on glass - depicting depression

An astonishing **69%** of adults in the U.S. are a tad heavier than they should be, according to 2010’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys data (1).

The prevalence of childhood obesity has more than doubled or tripled in the past decades (1). These data should explain clearly why we should start to care about our weight.

Who doesn’t want to be healthy and fit right? Well, if only it were that easy, but it is not. If you struggle with weight loss, you sure know that there are no shortcuts.

The concept is simple – burn more calories than you eat. However, it is not just about making time in the gym or choosing to eat a healthy salad over your favorite burger; it is about making a full commitment to health every single day of your life regardless of the ups and downs.

And this is quite too much to ask for busy people, and so they would get help by taking weight loss medications.

Phentermine is one of the most popular weight loss drugs available in the market today. While it has been proven to be effective in curbing one’s appetite, people are also interested to know if it can really cause depression.

Let’s find out by discussing in full details how Phentermine works and the possible side effects.

What is Phentermine?

Phentermine is a prescription drug used along with exercise and diet for weight loss.

It can be classified as a sympathomimetic amine drug. It works by decreasing one’s appetite and increasing the amount of energy used by the body (2).

How to Use Phentermine Effectively?

Phentermine, regardless of which form you have, must be taken in the morning to prevent insomnia (3).

In most cases, tablets are prescribed to be taken once daily, a few hours before or after breakfast.

If you have the sustained-release capsules, you may wish to take it once a day before breakfast. Swallow it as a whole because crushing or chewing the capsule will release a high dosage all at once, which may increase the risk of side effects.

Tablets that are supposed to be dissolved in the mouth can be taken with or without food in the morning.

The dosage may be adjusted based on your medical condition and response to treatment. It’s your physician’s directive.

This medication is for short-term use only. It must not be taken with other appetite suppressants to avoid serious side effects (3).

What Are the Possible Side Effects of Phentermine?

Similar to other drugs, Phentermine can cause side effects too, especially if not used properly.

Dry mouth, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, and insomnia are the minor side effects of Phentermine (3).

As a stimulant, this drug can also raise your blood pressure. Regular monitoring of your blood pressure may be necessary.

Speak to your doctor immediately if you experience fast, irregular, pounding heartbeats, and uncontrolled muscle movements.

Stop taking this drug and visit the nearest hospital if you had an episode of slurred speech, allergic reaction, seizure, the unilateral body weakens, and vision changes.

Many people are aware of the above mentioned physical side effects of Phentermine, but less is being said about its psychological effects.

If you are taking Phentermine and you are experience effects like disinterest, sadness, low mood, hopelessness, you may wish to know that you are not the only one.

How does Phentermine Causes Depression?

There are three main theories to explain how Phentermine causes depression.

1. It Over Stimulates Neurotransmitters

Depression has been linked to imbalances in neurotransmitter levels, especially dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin (4).

Theoretically, activation or increased levels of these neurotransmitters would result in feelings of positivity and euphoria. However, overactivation may sometimes lead to negative effects like low mood and depression (5).

2. It Intensifies Emotional Responses

As a stimulant, Phentermine does not only increases energy levels. It can also magnify one’s feeling and emotions. This then affects a patient’s normal response to different situations, including extreme feelings like anger and depression.

Though anyone can suffer from this side effect due to Phentermine use, patients with a history of depression may be more susceptible (5).

3. It Fluctuates Hormone Levels

Several studies support the link between weight loss and decreased sex hormone levels (6, 7).

Neurotransmitters and hormones share common receptor sites and pathways in the brain linked to mood, especially through the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis (8).

Women presenting with episodes of depression is associated with low levels of estrogen.

Estrogen is thought to increase serotonin, which regulates mood and social behavior. Estrogen deficiency decreases serotonin levels, contributing to mood swings and depression (9).

This explains why most women suffer from this issue during PMS, pregnancy, and menopause.

Low levels of testosterone in men may also cause clinical depression (10).

Tips to Overcome Phentermine Depression

Listed below are steps to help you manage Phentermine depression:

1. Talk About It

Confide your feelings with someone you trust. There’s always a chance that your depression is due to some other reasons aside from Phentermine use.

While Phentermine may amplify your emotions, this does not make your depression less valid.

Voicing out your feelings and thoughts with someone who understands can help put things in perspective. This will also stop you from feeling alone.

If you do not want to discuss your weight loss journey with your family or friends, you can check out forums to connect with other Phentermine users. They might have the same symptoms as you.

2. Rest and Sleep

Sometimes, all we need is rest to overcome physical and mental exhaustion.

Studies have been done to correlate sleep and depression. One study showed that insomnia, which is one of Phentermine’s side effects, can increase one’s risk of depression up to 10 times (11).

Try to form habits that can help you fall asleep more easily. Make your sleeping environment pleasant and relaxing, take a warm bath, do relaxation exercises before bed, and stick to a regular sleep schedule, if possible.

However, if you think your sleeping patterns have changed tremendously and you feel more tired than you used to be, talk to your doctor immediately. Phentermine dosage may be adjusted to help minimize the side effects.

3. Exercise

Exercise can help boost your mood. A good workout releases more of feel-good endorphin.

One study revealed that aerobic exercises have helped patients improved their depression symptoms as much as those who had medications (12).

Exercise for at least 20 minutes daily. Find a routine that you’re interested in and you’ll be riding the highs of exercise for a longer period of time.

4. Munch on Feel-Good Foods

We are what we eat. There are several choices for feel-good foods aside from ice cream and the fried ones. The best examples are bananas, whole grain pasta, yogurt, Brazil nuts, and dark chocolate.

What makes these foods great for your mood is that they are rich in minerals like selenium and magnesium and vitamin B, which can help increase serotonin production (13).

Supplements are also helpful to keep you healthy while on a calorie-controlled diet. 5-HTP has been found effective in improving mood and increasing the effectiveness of Phentermine (13).

5. Look After Your Well-Being

Always put your health and well-being first, especially when struggling with negative emotions and low mood. Aside from eating feel-good foods, you can reduce stress by getting a massage, listening to your favorite music, or being crafty.

Avoid taking on too much. Learn how to say no to people if necessary and create a to-do list of your important tasks.

6. Ask for Professional Help

Depression, regardless of the cause, may sometimes require professional help.

Phentermine side effects usually go away after a few weeks. If your feelings of depression continue for a longer period of time, you may wish to visit a doctor immediately.

Dose adjustment may be considered to help minimize the side effects, but if depression is still persistent, you might be referred to a psychologist for further assessment.



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