Does Metformin Work for Depression, Anxiety, and Weight Loss?
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Q:  Does Metformin Work for Depression, Anxiety, and Weight Loss?

Dear Doctor,

           I was diagnosed with Bi-Polar disorder, ADHD, OCD, depression & anxiety. I have been prescribed too many meds to even mention. You name it I am sure I was taking it at some point in time. Nothing seems to make me feel better. I have had a back fusion (surgery) and after 2 yrs reinjured it again with now having nerve damage. I am very depressed, have gained about 40/50 lbs because of not being able to exercise as I used to do alot, and the depression & anxiety keeps me down that I don't want to go out or do anything because my life as changed so much I feel hopeless. What I am trying to get at is this. I have been told and read articles about Metformin. Is it true that it works for depression, anxiety & weight loss? I am now taking Prozac, Klonapin & Strattera. Still don't feel happy. Can I take Metformin? Is it only for those with diabetes? Will it harm me if I take it? I appreciate a reply.

Thank you.

Dear DK --

Two thoughts: if you do indeed have bipolar disorder, you are not currently taking the standard medications for it, which raises the possibility in my mind that you may never have had the standard medications for it. In my view, the standard medication approach (and then there are non-medication approaches as well, some of which are described in the first several bullets on my education website home page; see, for example, dark therapy and psychotherapy for bipolar disorder) Ö ahem, letís see, ah yes, the standard medication approach includes combinations and mood stabilizers without an antidepressant in the picture at the time. If most of the mood stabilizers you took were used in conjunction with an antidepressant, then you have not yet necessarily had all the standard treatments for bipolar disorder.  Indeed, you may have had relatively few of them, to find in that way.  I run into this quite often, where people think that they have had everything, but most of the time, there was an antidepressant around.  The good news is that this means many options are still to be tried.

As for metformin, my suspicions about this medications capacity to have a mood effect can be found on my page about metabolic syndrome and mood; there is a specific section about metformin and mood.  Youíll also see a link to some basic information I think is useful about metformin itself.  I hope something here in this letter proves to be useful; if not the first paragraph, then at least this one.  Good luck with that --

Dr. Phelps

Published November, 2008


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