Medical Breakthrough: Anti-Depressant Diet Pill

Wednesday, September 8th 1999, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Imagine taking a pill and POOF! Your hunger goes away. The pounds melt off. Best of all, you feel great, not anxious like with some appetite suppressants. That's what doctor are finding by using an old pill a new way. Jan Lucas has dropped five dress sizes in one year. "I weighed 217, and now I weigh 145," Lucas says. She did it by eating 1,600 calories a day, just slightly less than average for most women. However, she also took an anti-depressant pill called bupropion SR.

Before long, Lucas knew this diet would be different. "Other times when I lost weight, I really wanted to eat more food," she says. "I was never satisfied. Now, I feel like it's the answer to my prayers. I just don't have the cravings." Dr. Kishore Gadde, M.D., a psychiatrist at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C., came up with the idea after he noticed obese patients taking the anti-depressant lost weight more successfully. He studied about 30 women who were overweight but not depressed. Dr. Gadde reports, "The people who received bupropion SR did four times better than those who received a placebo."

After eight weeks, women taking the drug lost an average of 14 pounds. Those on a placebo lost only three-and-a-half pounds. The drug triggers the release of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain. "It's a brain chemical or a brain hormone we normally associate with pleasure feeling," says Dr. Gadde. He hopes more studies will show why the drug is so helpful to dieters. Lucas remains in the study counting calories and loving her new look. "I feel like I can do this for the rest of my life," she says.

So far, the only side effect of the drug seems to be a dry mouth. It could be two years before the drug is cleared for use as a diet aid. Right now, many doctors prescribe it to help smokers kick the habit (Zyban). If you would like more information, please contact:

Rebecca Levine
Duke University Medical Center
Box 3354
Durham, NC 27710
(919) 684-4148