She Wei Lam

Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

King, Sondra L.

Degree Name

M.S. (Master of Science)

Legacy Department

Department of Family, Consumer, and Nutrition Sciences


Antidepressants--Physiological effect; Older people--Health and hygiene; Body weight; Older people--Nutrition


This study examined the effect of two different classes of antidepressants, tricyclic anti depressants (TCAs) and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), on weight change of the elderly. A retrospective chart review was used to analyze the weight-change pattern of long-term care residents who were under antidepressant treatment. Subjects were divided into two groups according to the class of antidepressant treatment and body weights were recorded. Nine of the ten subjects who received tricyclics treatment showed weight gain during the course of treatment. In the TCA group, an average weight gain of 1.7 lb (? 5.2 lb SD) compared to baseline weight was noted at 1 month, 1.4 lb (? 5.8 lb SD) at 2 months, and 2.1 lb (? 10.2 lb SD) at 3 months after the medication was initiated. Substantial weight gain of 5.5 lb (? 7.1 lb SD) and 8.5 lb (? 9.2 lb SD) was noted at 4 and 5 months respectively; however, the change was found to be statistically significant only at 5 months (t=2.27; p=0.036) after the drug treatment. In contrast, weight loss was noted in 15 of the 21 subjects who were under SSRI treatment. An average weight loss of 0.3 lb (? 9.1 lb SD) to 3.6 lb (? 14.9 lb SD) was noted over a period of SSRI treatment ranging from 1 to 16 months. Although substantial weight loss occurred in some cases, the average weight change compared to the baseline weight was not statistically significant. A significant correlation was found between weight change and duration of drug treatment in the TCA group (r=0.87) but not in the SSRI group. An association between weight loss and SSRI treatment was not established in this study. Other factors such as age, initial body weight, body mass index, and presence of obesity was not associated with weight change during antidepressant treatment. Most previous studies focused on a younger population. The unique characteristic of this study was its focus on the elderly population that might have a different metabolism and thus experience different consequences in side effect of antidepressants.


Includes bibliographical references.


50 pages




Northern Illinois University

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