Based on clinical studies that have been conducted on the anti-anxiety medication – Buspar, weight gain is one side effect that can occur. Very few people experience this effect, however.
This article will cover Buspar’s impact on weight gain and weight loss, side effects, and when to see a medical professional about issues relating to this drug.
What is Buspar (Buspirone)?
It also helps people relax, worry less, and think more clearly.
What Does it Treat?
Buspar is a commonly-prescribed anxiolytic medication used to treat anxiety disorders such as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).
Those with an anxiety disorder or who experience anxiety can have any of the following symptoms:
- Rapid breathing
- A feeling of impending doom or danger
- Weakness or tiredness
- Difficulty with concentration and sleeping
- Stomachaches and headaches
- An urge to avoid activities that trigger anxiety
Buspar is a daily, commonly prescribed in addition to other drugs you may already be taking, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which are frequently prescribed to treat depression.
While benzodiazepines like Xanax have sedative and muscle-relaxing effects in treating anxiety, Buspar doesn’t.
Can Buspar Cause Weight Gain?
Just between 0.1 and 1% of the people who use Buspar medication experience weight gain.
Most people who take the drug won’t experience a clinically relevant gain or loss in weight, which is defined as a 7% weight change from their baseline weight.
During an anxiety attack, there are a number of symptoms that you may experience, which can lead to weight gain. These include:
- Increased cortisol levels
- Fat deposit in the stomach
- More fat depositions, resulting in adiposity (being overweight)
- Recovery from loss of appetite during anxiety
Can Buspar Cause Weight Loss?
Just as anxiety can cause you to eat more, it can also cause you to eat less.
Anxiety symptoms such as low appetite and decreased metabolism can result in weight loss.
A change in weight is more likely to be due to the anxiety you’re experiencing, rather than as a side effect of Buspar.
If you’re already overweight, weight loss may be an indirect side effect of using Buspar to treat anxiety.
If you’ve been turning to food as a coping mechanism for anxiety and using Buspar has proven to be effective in treating it, the need to overeat would lessen. Subsequently, weight loss may occur.
Additionally, adverse effects of Buspar, such as nausea and mild stomach aches, could result in weight loss.
Other Factors That Can Cause Weight Gain
Although Buspar is unlikely to contribute directly to weight gain, other effects of improving anxiety may explain why you see a change in weight. These include:
- Mood changes
- Improvement of cognitive function
- Hormonal changes affecting prolactin and growth hormone
- Change in resting metabolic rate
Side effects of taking Buspar include:
- Nervousness or restlessness
- Swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
1-10% of people who take Buspar also experience side effects such as:
- Central nervous system effects (such as headache, nervousness, excitement, confusion, dizziness, drowsiness, and disturbed sleep)
- Gastrointestinal effects (such as nausea, diarrhea, or upset stomach)
- Chest pain
- Skin rashes
- Blurred vision
- Ringing in the ears
If you have a condition that affects the functioning of your liver, your liver may not be able to break down Buspar effectively, and this will lead to unwanted side effects.
If you have kidney problems, your body may not be able to excrete the drug properly.
To avoid preventable, unwanted side effects, tell your doctor about any medications or supplements that you’re taking to make sure that they won’t interact with Buspar.
When to See a Medical Professional
Before you take Buspar, a doctor will need to review your medical history to ensure that you don’t have any contraindications to taking Buspar, such as an allergy or hypersensitivity to the drug.
If you have diabetes, your doctor may choose not to prescribe Buspar since the drug can affect blood glucose levels.
Speak with your doctor immediately if you’re experiencing chest pain, shortness of breath, lightheadedness, or faintness after taking the medication.
Similarly, talk with a doctor if you’ve experienced an anxiety attack with any of these symptoms:
- Feelings of danger, panic, or dread
- Rapid heart rate
- Trembling or severe chills
- Nervousness or restlessness
- Tiredness or weakness
- Difficulty with focusing and concentration
If you overdose and experience any of the following symptoms, call the Poison Helpline at 1-800-222-1222.
Buspar overdoses have not resulted in any reported deaths, but symptoms may include:
- Drowsiness or sleepiness
- Upset stomach
If you’re having a mental health emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room. You can also get free 24/7 support from a suicide and crisis expert by calling or texting 988. If you’d prefer to chat online, you can chat with a suicide and crisis expert by visiting the Lifeline Chat.
How K Health Can Help
Think you might need a prescription for buspar (buspirone)?
K Health has clinicians standing by 24/7 to evaluate your symptoms and determine if citalopram is right for you.
Get started with our free assessment, which will tell you in minutes if treatment could be a good fit. If yes, we’ll connect you right to a clinician who can prescribe medication and have it shipped right to your door.
Frequently Asked Questions
K Health has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references.
A Review of the Neuropharmacology of Bupropion, a Dual Norepinephrine and Dopamine Reuptake Inhibitor. (2004).
Any Anxiety Disorder. (n.d.).
Bupropion: a systematic review and meta-analysis of effectiveness as an antidepressant. (2016).
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (n.d.).
Which anti-anxiety medication is right for me? (2019).