Helen asks…

Does anti-anxiety medication cause hair loss or weight gain?

I want to take anti-medications but they say it might cause hair loss or severe weight gain as much as 50lbs. I don’t want to go through that. Also is the hair loss permanent or does it grow back?

Which brand of anti-anxiety medication don’t have these side effects?

Helen answers:

A good friend of mine (female) has been going through a major depression over the last couple of months, during which time she has been taking a high dose of Effexor (an antidepressant) and a low dose of Klonopin (an anti-anxiety). I’d say for the last 5 weeks she has been losing hair everyday at an alarming rate. Her once thick, long brain hair has now thinned out and is beginning to recede.

The professional school of thought so far is that it’s her own depression and anxiety that is causing the hair to fall out but I can’t help see a connection with the medications she’s taking. Both Effexor and Klonopin can cause hair loss but these side effects are rare.

I was on a celexa another antidepresant that helps with anxiety and didnt experience any hair-loss. It has some sexual side effects, talk to your psychiatrist about it.

Lisa asks…

I need help from a medical expert about a possible side effect?

I take the following medicines,
vitamin B,
fish oil,
Allegra D,
Magnesium Glycinate 400,
and citalopram

once every day, and lately i have had abnormal amounts of hair loss and it is very concerning. It has been going on for 2-3 weeks and it NEEDS to stop! I will see a doctor if i can’t figure it out on my own, but If you could help me, please do! Thank you!

Helen answers:

The most probable culprit here is the Celexa. This anti-depressant , as with many SSRI’s, can have an “uncommon” side effect of hair loss/thinning.

Vitamin B, Fish oil, Allegra D all would not cause this.

Magnesium is an unlikely candidate, but an imbalance of your magnesium to calcium ‘ratio’ in the body can create problems with the hair (and skin for that matter, among other things). I would definitely look to your anti-depressant first.

But, it would also be safe to discontinue the vitamin B, fish oil, magnesium (and even the Allegra is you can handle your allergies for a bit) to determine if they are the culprit first. With hair loss, you need to give it a bit of time, and you should be able to tell by the amount coming out slowing and not waiting on it to re-thicken as this can take many months.

I suggest these variables first because I assume the Celexa is having a positive impact on your life and it can have withdrawal/dependence symptoms or worsening of depression/anxiety if discontinued. Though it may be the culprit. Then again it could also be none of these, and sheer anxiety. Though you have to eliminate likely variables in a scientific fashion to derive an answer.

Good luck,

Jenny asks…

could citalopram make my periods irregular?

I have been taking citalopram for a month and i cant remember my last period.( i was always a bit useless with remembering when it was anyway.) But it has definatly been 5 weeks since the last one.

Helen answers:

You’ll notice under Common side effects “painful menstruation”, under Less Common “loss of menstruation”, and under Rare many serious conditions.

Keep in mind ALL medications must list any and all side effects that took place in all studies, even if a very small number showed these symptoms. Even Tylenol has a long list of serious possible side effects, all medications do. I’d see your doctor and explain what’s going on though, based on the list containing “loss of menstruation”, because I’d be concerned about any other more serious side effects you may not notice or could develop. Don’t stop taking the medication before seeing your doctor.


Celexa ( Citalopram ) Important
DO NOT STOP without consulting your physician.

Celexa ( Citalopram ) ( Symptoms or Effects )

Common: Abdominal pain, agitation, anxiety,diarrhea, drowsiness, dry mouth, ejaculation disorders, fatigue, impotence, indigestion, insomnia, loss of appetite, nausea, *****painful menstruation, respiratory tract infection, sinus or inflammation, sweating, tremor, and / or, vomiting.

Less Common: Amnesia, attempted suicide, confusion, coughing, decreased sexual drive, depression, excessive urination, fever, gas, impaired concentration, increased appetite, increased salivation, itching, joint pain, lack of emotion, *****loss of menstruation, low blood pressure, migraine, muscle pain, rapid heartbeat, rash, skin tingling, taste disturbances, visual disturbances, weight gain, weight loss, yawning

Rare: Abnormal dreams, acne, aggressive behavior, alcohol intolerance, angina ( chest pain ), arthritis, belching, bone pain, breast enlargement, breast pain, bronchitis, bruising, chills, conjunctivitis (pinkeye), decreased muscle movements, delusions, dermatitis, difficulty breathing, difficulty swallowing, dizziness, drug dependence, dry eyes, dry skin, eczema, emotional instability, excessive milk flow, excessive muscle tone, eye pain, fainting, feeling of well-being, flu-like symptoms, flushing, frequent urination, gum inflammation, hair loss, hallucinations, heart attack, heart failure, hemorrhoids, high blood pressure, hives, hot flashes, inability to hold urine, inability to urinate completely, increased sex drive, increased urination, involuntary muscle movements, leg cramps, mouth sores, muscle weakness, nosebleeds, numbness, painful erection, painful urination, panic, paranoia, pneumonia, psoriasis, psychosis, ringing in the ears, sensitivity to light, skin discoloration, slow heartbeat, stomach and intestinal inflammation, stroke, swelling, teeth grinding, thirst, uncontrollable muscle movements, unsteady or abnormal walk, vaginal bleeding.

See physician always: An allergic reaction (difficulty breathing; closing of the throat, swelling of the lips, tongue, or face, or hives), an irregular heartbeat or pulse, low blood pressure ( dizziness, weakness ), high blood pressure ( severe headache, blurred vision ), or chills or fever.

See physician if severe: Headache, tremor, nervousness, anxiety, nausea, diarrhea, dry mouth, or changes in appetite or weight, sleepiness or insomnia, decreased sex drive, impotence, or difficulty having an orgasm.

See physician NOW: An allergic reaction ( difficulty breathing; closing of the throat, swelling of the lips, tongue, or face, or hives ), an irregular heartbeat or pulse, low blood pressure ( dizziness, weakness ), high blood pressure ( severe headache, blurred vision ), or chills or fever.

Tell your doctor if you:

* Have liver disease.
* Have kidney disease.
* Suffer from seizures.
* Suffer from mania or have suicidal thoughts.

Take With: With or without food and with a full glass (8 ounces) of water, it the same time everyday.

Full Benefits In: Several months.

Missed Dose(s): If within one hour take, if over an hour skip and then continue on your normal schedule.
Never Take a Double Dose

Overdose symptoms include: Nausea, vomiting, tremor, drowsiness, dizziness, sweating, and a fast heartbeat.

Ken asks…

Can anyone suggest anti-anxiety, antidepressant medication with low side effects?

I have been on Effexor XR for 4 months and am moderately satisfied aside from experiencing hair loss and weight gain due to increased appetite.
I would like to try something more effective without those side effects–maybe there is something that will lessen my appetite as well? I suffer from bipolar disorder, marked significantly with major depression and anxiety disorder. I am looking to try medication that will help control my panic attacks and calm violent manic episodes. I don’t want to be a med-dependant zombie, but I need something to “sedate” me enough to live a normal life.
I was on Celexa several years before and it didn’t help me at all. I have Xanax but it makes me so sleepy that I refuse to take it unless I am having an unbearable panic attack or feel that I won’t be able to control my anger. Please tell me what experiences you have had with antidepressant/anti-anxiety meds so I can suggest something new to my doc.

Helen answers:

Effexor works well for me. I also take Wellbutrin, which I started two months ago. It is known to cause at least a five pound weight loss. I’ve lost five pounds so far.

I’m surprised you are not taking a mood stabilizer for bipolar. I take Lamictal which works wonders & is not known to cause weight gain like so many others. I know many people who are bipolar that take Lamictal and they too are doing great.

The mood stabilizers that I did try & that didn’t work were Depakote, Lithium, Tegretol, Abilfy, Risperdal & I can’t remember the other one, but it’s relatively new.

Depakote caused rapid weight gain of 12 pounds in three weeks and I lost half my hair. Tegretol caused rapid weight gain, Lithium caused dizzieness, weight gain and acne, Abilify caused me to feel really spaced out & trouble keeping my eyes open. Risperdal caused weight gain as well.

It took me a year to find the right combination of drugs to work for me. All drugs work different for different people, so don’t rely on what my side-effects are. It’s all trial and error.

I take Ativan sometimes if I feel stressed, but I rarely need it. It does not make me sleepy & is not addictive like xanax.

George asks…

Whay will this drug combo do to me?

I have to take vitamin D, celexa, and ambien. What kind of side effects should I expect.

Helen answers:

Abdominal pain, bloating, sore throat, constipation, drowsiness, abnormal heart rate, suicidal thoughts, aggressive mood swings, thinning hair & hair loss, brittle fingernails, bad breath, jaundice, exessive sweating & body odor, tender breast, bleeding gums and blurred vision.

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