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Patients taking blockbuster weight-loss drugs are reporting an unusual added benefit — they are free from anxiety and depression that used to rule their lives.
Users across the country claim their jittery feelings became less intense when they started taking Ozempic. Others say their depression also disappeared.
The drug helps people lose weight by mimicking the GLP-1 hormone, which curbs hunger and slows the rate at which a person’s stomach empties, leaving them feeling fuller for longer.
Experts acknowledge it may also help reduce anxiety, although admit it is not clear whether this is due to the weight loss triggered by the medication or another factor.
An estimated one in 60 US adults now have a prescription for Ozempic, its bigger dose version Wegovy and another weight loss drug called Mounjaro.
Ozempic works by mimicking the GLP-1 hormone, which curbs hunger and slows the rate at which a person’s stomach empties, leaving them feeling fuller for longer
Researchers from Taiwan found that diabetic patients on GLP-1 medications had a reduced likelihood of being diagnosed with anxiety disorder compared to diabetics not on GLP-1 medication
A 2020 review of studies looking into the ability of GLP-1 hormone to alleviate depression found that ‘GLP-1 is a useful therapeutic modulator of depression’.
Dr Mary Jacobson, chief medical officer at telemedicine company Hello Alpha based in Palo Alto, California, told DailyMail.com that her patients on Ozempic have reported a decrease in anxiety.
She said: ‘About 20 percent of our patients who see us for excess weight also see us for mental health symptoms.
‘The patients who are on Ozempic seem to have improving symptoms with respect to their validated questionnaire scoring for depression and anxiety.’
But Dr Jacobson admitted it is not known why this might be the case, as some users might feel better because they have lost weight and as a secondary effect, their anxiety is reduced.
She said: ‘Is it they feel better because of the weight loss, so they have less anxiety in terms of stigma, in terms of going out into public, for example, in terms of being self-conscious?’
She added: ‘Some studies show a decrease in social anxiety or social phobia, as well as binge eating disorder and panic attacks.
‘It could be that they just feel better about themselves, but [there’s] no way to tell if it’s how they feel with respect to the actual weight loss and the effect that Ozempic has on the neural circuits in the brain.
‘We haven’t teased that out yet, but certainly it seems possible and probable.’
One 2020 study conducted at the China Medical University Hospital in Taiwan looked at diabetic patients who were on GLP-1 medications and those who were not.
They found that those on GLP-1 medications had a reduced likelihood of being diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.
But some users are reporting increased anxiety.
Dr Jacobson said: ‘When you think about people who have severe obesity, how does that change their life once they lose all that weight? Are they prepared for that?
‘That’s why behavior modification is so important and work with coaches and others is so important because it’s really a major change in your life.’
Users on TikTok have reported significant decreases in anxiety.
One user commented: ‘I have had so much relief from my anxiety and Ozempic. It’s unbelievable like it’s noticeable.’
Another said: ‘Pain and anxiety gone on Mounjaro. I’m in [a] Facebook group of 90,000 plus members. Many many say anxiety is better.’
There have also been a host of negative side effects of taking Ozempic and Wegovy.
Most recently, a growing number of patients detailing embarrassing and debilitating stomach and toilet symptoms – from severe constipation to losing control of the bowels.
The problems have become so common a Reddit group with more than 30,000 members has been created where users share their most embarrassing stories.
One user wrote in a thread: ‘I quite literally s**t myself while sleeping. That’s a first. Been tough few days of diarrhea after my first semaglutide injection.’
Meanwhile, a 43-year-old anonymous man taking Wegovy said ‘I just feel SO embarrassed being a grown adult who messed his pants!’
The drugs slow the digestive process, making people feel full for longer periods of time. This can lead to constipation. However, it can also signal to the brain that stomach contents need to be emptied sooner, resulting in diarrhea.