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Do Weight Loss Drugs Like Saxenda Cause Suicidal Thoughts?

Recent media coverage has focused on weight loss drugs, with many people asking if they’re safe and effective. One such drug that has been in the spotlight is Saxenda, which is commonly prescribed for people with diabetes. In spite of the fact that it has helped people lose weight, there are concerns about its long-term safety. It has been reported that these drugs may contribute to suicidal thoughts and self-harm. F.D.A. officials, however, have stated that this claim is unsubstantiated. In this blog post, we will explore the safety of the medication and what you need to know before taking it. In addition, if you want to manage a healthy body weight, you can buy Saxenda online.

How Does Saxenda Help Losing Weight?

Saxenda contains liraglutide, a type of drug called a glucagon-like peptide (GLP-1) agonist. Unlike a quick fix, it is a long-term solution for weight management, requiring a lifelong commitment. The medicine doesn’t address the root causes of obesity but helps in its management. It mimics the effects of a hormone called GLP-1, released after eating. By triggering signals in the brain and slowing gut movement, it makes you feel fuller and less hungry. This effect lasts throughout the day because it breaks down more slowly than natural hormones.

For effective results, it should be combined with lifestyle changes, as it influences hormones related to the body’s natural weight regulation processes. Understanding the challenges of the body’s weight set point, Dr. Elizabeth Mann, a pediatric endocrinologist at U.W. Health Kids in Wisconsin states that lifestyle modifications become more effective with the support of these medications.

Is Saxenda Associated with Suicidal Thoughts?

According to a CNN news report published on July 11, 2023, the European Medicines Agency (E.M.A.) is investigating potential links between popular weight-loss drugs, Ozempic and Saxenda injections and suicidal thoughts or self-harm. It was triggered by three cases reported by the Icelandic Medicines Agency. One after semaglutide and the other after liraglutide. The agency stated that a clinical trial on liraglutide reported nine adults with suicidal ideation out of 3,300. One of the adults attempted suicide. In a pediatric trial, one suicide occurred among 125 participants, but the causation of liraglutide remains unestablished. 

Does Saxenda Cause Suicidal Thoughts According to F.D.A.?

The Food and Drug Administration (F.D.A.) conducted a review on weight loss drugs like Saxenda to address concerns about potential suicidal thoughts. The preliminary update on F.D.A.’s ongoing evaluation of reports of suicidal thoughts or actions in patients taking a certain type of medicines approved for type 2 diabetes and obesity was released on January 11, 2024. It indicates that there is no clear evidence linking these GLP-1 drugs to suicidal thoughts. As per the F.D.A.’s Adverse Event Reporting System (FAERS), among over 35,000 reports of adverse reactions to liraglutide, there were 71 cases of suicidal ideation, 28 suicide attempts, and 25 suicides. FAERS cautions users that the data may be duplicated or incomplete, that rates of occurrence cannot be established with the data, and that reports have not been verified.

The F.D.A. examined multiple patient reports and several clinical trial data, stating that while a small risk can’t be definitively ruled out, the benefits of these medications generally outweigh potential risks. A similar conclusion was reached in a study that was published in Nature Medicine in January 2024 and was funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health. It analyzed the medical records of nearly 1.6 million patients with type 2 diabetes and 240,618 patients with obesity. The study concluded that the use of GLP-1 receptor agonists like Saxenda and Ozempic was not associated with an increased risk of depression or suicide. However, these drugs may have become cultural touchstones, popular with influencers but often short on supply, resulting in knockoffs and sales from pharmacies copying them.

E.M.A. Investigations on Saxenda Link with Suicidal Thoughts

The European Medicines Agency (E.M.A.) is currently reviewing glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists used for treating type 2 diabetes and weight loss due to reported cases of suicidal thoughts. The Pharmacovigilance Risk Assessment Committee (PRAC) initiated the review on July 3, 2023, expanding it to include various GLP-1 receptor agonists. Around 150 reports of self-harm thoughts in patients using drugs like Saxenda injections are under analysis. It is not yet clear whether the reported cases are linked to the medicines themselves or the patients’ underlying conditions or other factors,” the agency said. 

However, as a precaution, the medical director of bariatric and robotic surgery at Jersey Shore University Medical Center at Hackensack Meridian Medical Group in New Jersey, Dr. Seth Kipnis, says that patients may wish to undergo psychological testing before they’re prescribed these medications.

According to Penny Ward, a visiting professor at King’s College in London with expertise in E.U. drug safety monitoring, the investigation is likely to result in a change to the drug’s label in the European Union. There should be a warning about suicidal thoughts as a possible side effect. 

Novo Nordisk Statement on Saxenda and Suicidal Thoughts

Novo Nordisk, in a statement to A.B.C. News affirms its ongoing commitment to patient safety. The company conducts continuous surveillance of data and real-world usage to ensure the well-being of patients using drugs like liraglutide. Patient safety is a top priority, and Novo Nordisk takes adverse event reports seriously. The statement highlights the long-standing use of GLP-1 receptor agonists, including semaglutide and liraglutide, in treating type 2 diabetes and obesity. In the U.S., where the F.D.A. mandates warnings for medications affecting the central nervous system, Saxenda carries a caution about suicidal behavior, a known occurrence in weight management product trials. Novo Nordisk expresses confidence in the benefit-risk profile and remains dedicated to ensuring patient safety through collaboration with authorities.

Other Factors That May Affect Suicidal Thoughts while Losing Weight

Although Saxenda injections themselves are not associated with suicidal thoughts in people who lose weight using the injection. In addition to the drug itself, other factors can affect an individual’s mental health, including the risk of suicide:

1. Bad Mental Health

It can play a significant role in the development of suicidal thoughts while losing weight. When a person is dealing with bad mental health, like depression, bipolar disorder, or other conditions, the risk of having thoughts about hurting themselves or attempting suicide can increase. These mental health issues may make someone feel very sad or hopeless, especially when trying to lose weight. Feelings of despair, emptiness, or impulsivity can contribute to suicidal thoughts. It’s important to know that seeking help is crucial, and getting the right treatment for mental health conditions can make a big difference. Support from professionals and loved ones is essential for someone going through tough times.

2. Social Pressures

Societal expectations and judgments related to body weight can intensify feelings of inadequacy and contribute to suicidal thoughts. The constant comparison to idealized standards and societal scrutiny may lead people to extreme measures, such as weight loss drugs. This is without addressing the underlying social pressures that impact mental well-being. A study titled “Obesity: Psychosocial and behavioral aspects of a modern epidemic: Introduction to the special issue” was published in 2020 in the Journal of Health Psychology. It explored how societal pressures and the obese environment influence people’s attitudes toward weight loss. Interviews with 10 women in weight-loss programs revealed conflicting messages about weight norms. Media emphasized thinness, while changes in the food environment and social interactions undermined weight-loss efforts. The study suggests that addressing social and environmental factors supporting weight loss should be a key focus in obesity policy. This highlights the need for a systemic approach to promote healthier behaviors.

3. Weight Stigma

It is also known as sizeism and is a form of bias and discrimination against individuals because of their body size. The impact of weight stigma on mental health is complex, and it can exacerbate existing vulnerabilities. People attempting to lose weight may already face various challenges, and the additional burden of societal judgment can intensify emotional struggles. It can lead to psychological distress and increase your risk for mental health problems such as substance use and suicidality. According to the American Psychological Association, more than 40% of U.S. adults across a degree of body size report undergoing weight stigma at some point in their life. 

4. Weight Control Failure 

It can make some people feel really sad and hopeless. They might think about hurting themselves or even ending their life. The study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders in 2021 found that weight loss interventions were associated with a reduced risk of suicidal ideation among individuals with obesity. This means that individuals who underwent weight loss interventions were less likely to have suicidal thoughts. The study suggests that weight loss interventions could be an effective way to reduce the risk of suicidal ideation among individuals with obesity. 

How to Deal with Suicidal Thoughts While Losing Weight?

You may also experience the opposite effect after losing weight intentionally – depression. You’ve lost some weight, but perhaps not as much as you’d hoped. You may feel frustrated, hopeless, or discouraged if your weight loss has plateaued. It is possible for these feelings to negatively affect your mood as well as your general outlook. Advertisements, media, and loved ones often promote thinness as an indicator of happiness. As a result, when the life changes you envisioned fail to materialize, you might feel let down. You may feel depressed or suicidal. If this happens, then you need to take the following steps:

  1. Consult a Mental Health Professional

If you’re experiencing feelings of depression or hopelessness during your weight loss journey, reach out to a mental health professional. Discussing your emotions with a counselor or therapist can provide valuable insights and coping strategies to navigate the emotional challenges that may arise.

  1. Set Realistic Expectations

Understand that weight loss alone does not guarantee happiness or the resolution of other life challenges. It’s essential to set realistic expectations and recognize that personal difficulties, relationship issues, or workplace challenges may persist. Focusing on holistic well-being and addressing underlying concerns is key to mental health.

  1. Focus on Nutrition and Wellness

Emphasize the importance of overall health rather than just weight loss. Accepting your body as it is and adopting practices like mindful eating can improve your mood and self-concept. Ensure you are nourishing your body with a balanced diet, as malnutrition and severe calorie restriction can contribute to low energy, fatigue, and feelings of depression.

  1. Adapt Small Changes Gradually

If depression makes it challenging to handle daily responsibilities, start with manageable adjustments. Keep easy-to-grab, nutritious snacks readily available, and consider seeking assistance from friends or loved ones with grocery shopping or meal preparation. Focus on gradual changes to make the process more achievable until you feel more capable of larger steps.

  1. Try Light Exercise

Engage in regular physical activity, not solely for weight loss but for overall well-being. Exercise can boost energy levels, improve mood, and enhance brain health. Even activities like stretching, yoga, or walking can be beneficial. If you’re struggling with depression, consider seeking professional help to explore treatment options, including therapy or a combination of therapy and medication, to address both mental and physical symptoms.

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To Sum Up

While there have been concerns raised about the potential link between weight loss drugs like Saxenda and suicidal thoughts, the current evidence from F.D.A. evaluations and studies suggest that such a connection is not clear. The benefits of these medications in managing weight often outweigh the potential risks. It’s essential for individuals considering or using these drugs to be aware of ongoing investigations, adhere to prescribed guidelines, and communicate openly with healthcare professionals. 

Additionally, addressing mental health, social pressures, weight stigma, and providing mental health support is crucial, as these factors can significantly impact an individual’s well-being during weight loss journeys. If someone experiences depressive thoughts or struggles, seeking help from mental health professionals and adopting a holistic approach to wellness is vital for a healthier and happier life.

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