Weight Gain

Fight Mirtazapine cravings: Advice from a Registered Dietitian

November 14, 2023

Written by Chandana (Chandy) Balasubramanian

Medically reviewed by Suzanna Thoe, RD

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Key Points

  • Antidepressants like Mirtazapine may lead to weight gain.
  • Reasons for weight gain include changes in various chemicals and hormones in our body that regulate our appetite.
  • Eating mindfully with a diet rich in whole foods, drinking more water, physical activity, and distractions may help curb cravings.
  • A Registered Dietitian and a personalized nutrition plan can be a powerful ally to help you fight cravings on Mirtazapine.

Mirtazapine, a common antidepressant, is prescribed to treat clinical depression and other mental health conditions. While it helps manage symptoms of depression, some people experience strong food cravings while on the drug.

Dealing with these uncontrollable cravings to eat high-carb, high-sugar, and highly processed foods can be extremely challenging. 

When these intense urges cannot be controlled, many get distressed from the resulting weight gain and the impact on their health.

How does Mirtazapine cause weight gain?

Mirtazapine is an atypical antidepressant sold as a generic and under the brand names Remeron and Remeron SolTab. It is used to treat anxiety, clinical depression, and other mental health conditions. It also works off-label as an appetite stimulant.

study published in the peer-reviewed BMJ (British Medical Journal) found that people on antidepressants were over 20% more likely to gain weight. The study also found that people on Mirtazapine experienced higher weight gain.

The exact reasons for this weight gain are still unknown, but there are several theories.

Mirtazapine stimulates appetite

One theory is that because Mirtazapine stimulates appetite, people may eat more food and gain weight. As a result, people on mirtazapine find it hard to fight hunger cravings and may tend to eat more carbohydrates and sugary foods.

Mirtazapine increases body mass

Research also shows that Mirtazapine increases fat storage across the body by altering levels of leptin. One theory for weight gain is that since leptin is a hormone that suppresses our appetite, lower levels due to Mirtazapine may lead to more fat mass.

Mirtazapine may lead to a hormonal imbalance

Most people also report experiencing craving foods rich in sugar, refined carbohydrates, and highly processed foods. This may be due to an imbalance of neurotransmitters and glucose levels that lead to cravings.

Regardless of why Mirtazapine may make you gain weight, it can be extremely frustrating and demotivating to fight cravings all day long. 

The weight gain may even lead some people to question whether the drug is worth it, even if it helps with their symptoms of depression. 

However, there may be ways to handle these food cravings.

Tips to manage Mirtazapine food cravings

Suzanna Thoe, RD, a Registered Dietitian, offers advice on how to manage food cravings while on antidepressants like Mirtazapine.

1. Choose nutrient-rich foods in your diet

Foods rich in fiber can help you feel full longer and reduce the likelihood of cravings. This includes whole grains, whole fruits and vegetables, and lean proteins.

Sugars and starchy foods break down easily in your body and elevate your blood sugar levels. This leads to an insulin spike (insulin clears the sugar out of your bloodstream), which can lead to low blood sugar.

To compensate for this low blood sugar, your brain may crave sugary foods and refined carbs for an energy boost. Unfortunately, this vicious cycle and extremes of blood sugar levels can lead to insulin resistance, which can also lead to weight gain.

Whole grains and whole vegetables take longer to digest due to the fiber and nutrients in them, which allows a steady trickle of glucose in the bloodstream. 

Eat your proteins together with nutrient-rich carbohydrates for optimal nutrition.

2. Eat at regular intervals

Whether you are hungry or not, try to eat at regular intervals. If not, the resulting low blood sugar levels may increase your urge to eat high-sugar and high-carb foods.

Balancing your blood sugar levels has been proven to help you feel more energetic and reduce cravings. Eating carbohydrates like whole grains and vegetables can help you maintain steady blood glucose levels throughout the day.

Try and keep nutritious but easy-to-grab snacks on hand. This can include whole fruit, nuts, boiled eggs, hummus and cucumber slices, and peanut butter with apple slices.

3. Drink more water

You may crave sugar-rich drinks or sodas, but try and drink water at regular intervals during the day. Sometimes, thirst can be mistaken for hunger and can lead to the urge to eat foods low in nutritional value.

If you would like an alternative to water, you could try herbal teas, green tea, or decaf teas.

4. Engage in physical activity

Research shows that exercise like running or strength training can help delay hunger. More importantly, while exercise does not help you lose weight, it brings loads of health benefits and can serve as a distraction from cravings.

You could try joining a group class or walking with friends or co-workers to help distract you from your food cravings, even temporarily.

5. Consult a licensed Registered Dietitian

Remember, everyone's experience with antidepressants is unique. Your body may respond differently to antidepressants compared to another person.

Weight gain is an incredibly complex process and not a simple calories-in, calories-out concept as the common myth tells us. Also, fighting cravings involves balancing various chemical, hormonal, and nutritional factors. 

Apart from these issues, dealing with changes in weight can be difficult if you have a history of disordered eating or issues with gut health.

Be kind to yourself; it is extremely challenging to deal with depression as well as the side effects of your medication. Consider getting support right from the start.

At Fay, our Registered Dietitians will first understand your unique challenges and create a personalized nutrition plan, just for you. What's more, your Registered Dietitian can offer guidance as you adjust to your new medication and help you get the right nutrition you need.

Fay can help you find a Registered Dietitian near you, covered by your insurance.

The views expressed by authors and contributors of such content are not endorsed or approved by Fay and are intended for informational purposes only. The content is reviewed by Fay only to confirm educational value and audience interest. You are encouraged to discuss any questions that you may have about your health with a healthcare provider.


Fay Nutrition has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references.

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Chandana (Chandy) Balasubramanian

Written by Chandana (Chandy) Balasubramanian

Chandana Balasubramanian is an experienced healthcare executive who writes on the intersection of healthcare and technology. She is the President of Global Insight Advisory Network and has a Master’s degree in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA.

Suzanna Thoe, RD

Medically Reviewed by Suzanna Thoe, RD

Suzanna is a Board Certified and Licensed Registered Dietitian. She completed her Bachelor of Science degree at Purdue University and completed her clinical internship and Masters of Business Administration at Dominican University. Suzanna has been a RD for almost 4 years and helps her clients understand the ‘why’ behind science-backed action items to move them towards their goals.