Depression, Antidepressant Use and Weight Gain


Wehby, George L. & Yang, Muzhe (2012). Depression, Antidepressant Use and Weight Gain. International Journal of Applied Economics. vol. 9 (2) pp. 1-38


We examine the joint effect of diagnosed depression and antidepressant use on body weight in a nationally representative sample of young adults in the United States. We employ a first-difference model that accounts for individual-level time-invariant unobservables. We find that depression with antidepressant use could increase the Body Mass Index by about 1 point and the probability of becoming overweight or obese by about 9.2 percentage points. The effect is larger for the unmarried and individuals with relatively low socioeconomic status. Next, we aim at isolating the effect of antidepressant use by controlling for depression symptoms and find that the increase in body weight is driven mainly by the use of antidepressants, not depression. Our results suggest that population-level increases in depression and antidepressant use among young adults in the United States could explain at least 1.5 percent of the increase in the obesity rate over the past two decades.


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Journal Article

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International Journal of Applied Economics


Wehby, George L.
Yang, Muzhe

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