GLP-1s change your brain chemistry. That’s how they work to curb food cravings. They tap into the brain center responsible for appetite. But these drugs also have the potential to impact mood and mental health. Here’s what to know and what to look out for.
How do GLP-1s affect mood?
GLP-1s may affect the part of the brain that regulates emotions, with mixed effects.
A number of studies have shown GLP-1s to improve depression symptoms, however some users report more depressive symptoms. Others have reported an increase in anxiety.
More rarely, some users have reported suicidal ideations. This possible link is being investigated in Europe and Canada. However, as of now there does not appear to be a causal link.
You also may experience an improvement in mood linked to weight loss. Many people find that taking GLP-1s quiets stressful “food noise” that previously occupied their thoughts. And if you’ve experienced weight stigma or low feelings of self-worth related to weight, losing weight through GLP-1s may also improve your mood.
What to watch out for
If you already experience mood disorders, talk with your doctor. This information might influence which GLP-1 drug they prescribe. They will also be able to suggest what to look out for and when to reach out for help.
Monitor your mood. Notice if you experience changes in thoughts, and track symptoms of depression and anxiety.
What to do
If you feel like you’re experiencing new or worsening symptoms of anxiety or depression, reach out to your doctor and your mental health counselor, if you have one.
If you don’t already have a therapist, consider working with one. GLP-1s are most effective for weight loss when paired with support in other areas, including guidance on nutrition, physical activity and mental health. A therapist or coach can help you work through changes in mood and mental health, and help you succeed in your weight loss journey.
If you are experiencing thoughts of self-harm or suicide, call the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline immediately at 988. They can provide free and confidential support.
Success on GLP-1s is a dynamic process between you and your healthcare provider. They can adjust your medications or help you find other solutions for weight loss if you’re experiencing negative side effects.