MEDICALLY REVIEWED

Exploring Semaglutide’s Effects on Mental Health: Key Insights

Semaglutide, primarily known for its use in treating type 2 diabetes and obesity, has also been observed to have implications for mental health. 

This exploration delves into the intricate relationship between Semaglutide, a medication primarily used for diabetes management, and now weight loss, and its effects on mental health, offering new perspectives for healthcare professionals and patients alike.

Semaglutide’s and its Mental Health Side Effects

Semaglutide, a medication primarily used for treating type 2 diabetes and obesity, has been associated with a range of side effects, including potential impacts on mental health. While it’s known for lowering blood sugar and aiding in weight management, its mechanism involves affecting the brain’s neural pathways that regulate appetite and energy expenditure, which could influence mental health in various ways.

Physical and Psychological Side Effects:

  1. Common Side Effects: The most frequently reported side effects include nausea, stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhoea, and constipation. In some cases, it may lead to acute pancreatitis​​. Up to 20% of people taking Semaglutide for type 2 diabetes have reported nausea, with higher doses for weight loss being even more likely to cause this side effect​​.
  2. Mental Health Concerns: There is a growing awareness of the potential severe mental health issues associated with Semaglutide, especially among those taking it for weight loss. European drug regulators have started investigating the safety of these drugs in light of reports of severe mental health side effects​​. Specifically, it may cause some individuals to be agitated, irritable, display abnormal behaviours, and experience suicidal thoughts and tendencies or increased depression. Users are advised to report any sudden or strong feelings, including feeling nervous, angry, restless, violent, or scared​​.
  3. Other Side Effects: Anxiety, blurred vision, confusion, depression, dizziness, increased hunger, nervousness, nightmares, seizures, skin rash, slurred speech, unusual tiredness or weakness, and more have also been reported as side effects of Semaglutide​​.

The psychological and mental state of patients taking Semaglutide for weight loss versus diabetes management may differ. This could also play a role in the side effects experienced. However, it is important to consider these potential side effects, especially in the context of mental health, and to consult healthcare providers for individual assessment and management.

The Link Between Semaglutide and Mood Alterations

The link between Semaglutide and mood alterations is an emerging area of interest in the medical community. The observed mood changes in patients undergoing Semaglutide treatment suggest a notable neurological impact. This is critical to understand for a more comprehensive approach to diabetes and weight management.

Nature of Mood Alterations: The mood changes associated with Semaglutide can vary. Patients might experience increased irritability, agitation, or other abnormal behaviours. In some cases, there are reports of severe mental health issues, including depression and suicidal thoughts. Such alterations can significantly impact a patient’s quality of life and treatment adherence​​.

Possible Mechanisms: Semaglutide primarily works by affecting the brain’s neural pathways that regulate appetite and energy expenditure.

The drug’s interaction with the central nervous system has the potential to influence mood regulation pathways. However, researchers have not fully understood the exact mechanisms yet. Mood changes could also be influenced by the drug’s effect on hormones that regulate appetite and blood sugar, as these hormones are known to impact mental health.

Individual Variability: The mental health effects of Semaglutide can differ based on individual factors, including the patient’s psychological state prior to starting the medication. For instance, the mental health implications for patients using Semaglutide for weight loss may be different from those using it for diabetes management. This variability underscores the importance of personalised medical care when prescribing and monitoring Semaglutide treatment​​.

Semaglutide and Depression: Case Reports Illuminate Concerns

Case Reports:

Two compelling case reports have documented instances of depression linked to Semaglutide use. The first case involved a middle-aged man with no prior history of depression. The second involved a middle-aged woman with recurrent depressive disorder. 

Both individuals experienced depressive symptoms approximately a month after starting Semaglutide, and these symptoms improved upon discontinuing the drug. These cases highlight the importance of considering potential psychiatric adverse effects when prescribing Semaglutide.

Mechanism of Action and Mental Health Implications:

According to the same source, Semaglutide, a GLP-1 receptor agonist, interacts with various GLP-1 receptor subtypes in the brain. This interaction has the potential to influence neural pathways responsible for food intake, reward, and energy expenditure. Interestingly, it may also impact dopaminergic neuron activity. This is known to play a crucial role in regulating mood and can be implicated in depression.

Short-Term Effects on Eating Patterns:

A study published on “PubMed” delved into the short-term effects of Semaglutide on emotional eating and other abnormal eating patterns among individuals with obesity. The study revealed a significant reduction in emotional eating and related patterns after three months of Semaglutide use, suggesting its potential influence on emotion regulation.

Advancing Understanding of Semaglutide’s Broader Impacts

The exploration of Semaglutide’s effects on mental health opens new avenues in diabetes care, emphasising the importance of addressing psychological aspects in chronic disease management. Ongoing research and clinical observations will continue to shape our understanding, offering hope for more comprehensive and effective treatment strategies.

References

  1. Nicolau, J., Pujol, A., Tofé, S., Bonet, A., & Gil, A. (2022, December 1). Short term effects of semaglutide on emotional eating and other abnormal eating patterns among subjects living with obesity. Physiology & Behavior. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.physbeh.2022.113967
  2. Li, J., Cao, J., Wei, J., & Geng, W. (2023, August 29). Case Report: Semaglutide-associated depression: a report of two cases. Frontiers in Psychiatry. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2023.1238353
  3. Semaglutide (Subcutaneous Route) Side Effects – Mayo Clinic. (n.d.). https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/semaglutide-subcutaneous-route/side-effects/drg-20406730?p=1
  4. Semaglutide Side Effects: Common, Severe, Long Term. (n.d.). Drugs.com. https://www.drugs.com/sfx/semaglutide-side-effects.html
  5. Semaglutide for weight loss – what you need to know. (n.d.). UCLA Health. https://www.uclahealth.org/news/semaglutide-weight-loss-what-you-need-know

 

Share via

Also worth reading

People also read:

Thailand Covid-19
Promising Thai mRNA COVID-19 Vaccine With Longer Fridge Storage Advancing to Next Trial Phase

A new mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, ChulaCov19, developed in Thailand, has shown promise in Phase I trials for its durability and ability to be stored at fridge temperatures for up to three months. The development of a potentially more effective and locally-grown vaccine could have significant implications for vaccine distribution in low- and middle-income countries in the region, where storage and transport can be challenging.

Read More »
COPD
An Overview on COPD

Professor Paul Jones shares his years-long experience treating patients with COPD. Get to know its symptoms, causes and how it affects Asians

Read More »