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My antidepressant turned my natural lean muscle tone into fat and its not getting better :(

Community Member

Hello there,

I’m a 34 year old male who started taking medication to treat my anxiety and depression in early December 2018. I took one tablet a day for just a month before stopping.

Although I could definitely feel the treatment was helping my mood, I noticed that the composition of my body began to change quickly. I began to lose my naturally lean muscle in my arms and chest and grow a layer of fat (giving me a man boob look). My stomach muscles also became incredibly soft and lost all their natural tone. It actually seemed like all of the muscles in my body softened considerably in just a matter of weeks.

I did not make any modifications to my diet or exercise habits during this period, leading me to believe that these changes can only be related to this medication. Also, rather than putting on weight (which was what I was initially concerned about), I have lost several kilograms. I assume this is because I have lost muscle mass but I cannot be sure.

I was worried that this medication may have affected my hormone levels (mainly testosterone), but all my tests have apparently come back normal. My doctor is perplexed at what has happened to my body in such a small space of time as there is no mention of muscle determination/fat accumulation in the listed side effects. Also, other than a couple of anecdotal reports, there is very little information about this phenomenon online.

It has now been over 2 months since I have stopped this medication, and despite my regular cardiovascular exercise, weight training and healthy eating the problem has not resolved.

I feel very self-conscious about what has happened to my body (particularly my chest) and feel even worse than I did before starting the medication. I worry that my body composition may have now permanently changed or will at least remain in such a state for a long time.
Has anyone experienced or come across anything like I have described? If so, what more can I do to try and recover from this?

Thank you


29 Replies 29

Community Member
So I had some further blood work done including having my estrogen levels checked, and again, everything is normal. I have made an appointment with an endocrinologist for next week to look deeper into the issue. Maybe they won't be able to help me, but I think it's worth a try as the problem is not resolving nearly 3 months later. Will keep you updated.

Community Member

So after having further blood work done and being examined my an endocrinologist (including having an ultrasound on my chest) the conclusion is that I do not have gynecomastia (man boobs), but apparently just have normal levels of fatty tissue in my chest. This finding seems bizarre to me as I definitely feel and look very bulky up there compared to before I started the meds, and my arms are much bigger too. The endocrinologist told me that if these changes are a result of taking the drug (which they definitely are) then they may or may not resolve in time. I am have been doing vigorous exercise almost every day and nothing really seems to be resolving except my muscles (or what I have left of them) appear a little bit firmer. I don't think there is really much left I can do other than to wait and hope for the best. Sigh

Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hi Rixon

Good on you for seeing your specialist despite the results being not what you expected

Since there is no such question as a dumb one, can I ask if you have asked your humble GP (again) about your situation? I still see my doc every 4 weeks for a 'tune up' He has more talent than some psychologists I have seen

As you know the most knowledgeable specialist is our psychiatrist as they have the best understanding of the meds we take (or used to) compared to anyone. 8 to 12 years at University

I did ask my own psychiatrist about my metabolism and he mentioned that the meds do reduce our adrenaline flow by increasing our serotonin levels to curb the anxiety attacks/depression we have (had)

For anxiety attacks to occur we are in a partial state of fear and thus will burn calories at a very fast rate and yes you mentioned that you have stopped your meds for your own reasons and fair enough

In our 30's our metabolism slows down too Rixon.......and then there is genetics as well which another subject altogether!
I understand that you are doing everything you can and kudos to you......please dont be too hard on yourself.

Your posts are appreciated Rixon and even though I exercise every day I am in the same boat as you

I wish I could have been of more help....Any questions are always welcome

my kind thoughts


Community Member
Hey, just adding my experience - I’ve noticed I’m getting soft and weak one year in to my SNRI I’m tapering off it)It’s quite alarming as I’m in a physical job. My physio actually noticed it first in my legs - the lack of muscle tone. I’m female and was already on an AD (so it can’t be attributed to being new to ADs)

Hello flameprincess...Welcome! (and a wave to Rixon who wrote this thread)

I havent been on SNRI's... yet have on a SSRI's for a while now and I never had a problem as they were orginally prescribed as an anti anxiety med

Have you spoken to your GP about your physical feelings with your SNRI's?

I hope you are doing okay flameprincess

my kind thoughts


Community Member

Although things have improved a little 18 months later, my muscles are still pudgy and bloated (despite having a good diet and regular exercise).

I recently went to a muscle neurologist and had nerve conduction testing, blood tests and an MRI. Apparently, everything is normal! (but I look and feel otherwise!)

What has happened has been incredibly frustrating and depressing. Who would have thought that taking an SSRI for only 4 weeks could break all of one's muscle down and dramatically change their body composition.

Community Member

Hi everybody i have same situation can build muscles and very weak .. just dont feel muscle engaging when working out like it doughy .. hair thining out and dry skin .. anybody figure out the solution ?

i took medicattion for a month only and suddenly happened

Community Member

Cant build muscle

Community Member

anybody figure out the issue ?


ist related to some hypothyroid symptoms that caused by hashimotos?


just wondering 

Hey lyad,

Thank you for sharing an update here. We hope you don't mind us popping in, we just wanted to let you know that it might take a while to hear back on a discussion like this, as it was started a few years ago. We’d like to suggest starting a thread of your own if you’d like to share more of your story and your perspectives. 

We would ask if you could focus on your mental health and wellbeing journey, rather than specific health issues and symptoms. This community is great for discussions about managing a long term health issue, and coping when diagnosis isn't a clear or linear journey. However, it's not possible for community members to request or give specific medical advice here. For medical advice we always recommend starting with the GP, and finding another if needing a second opinion.

Thanks again for sharing, it’s not always easy so we hope you can be proud of having taken this step.

Kind regards,

Sophie M