Semaglutide and Mental Health

banner image

Semaglutide (also known as Wegovy, Ozempic, Rybelsus) is a medication used to treat type 2 diabetes. It belongs to a class of drugs called glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists. While the primary purpose of semaglutide is to help manage blood sugar levels in people with diabetes, many clients recently have been taking this medication for help with weight loss. I have received many inquiries from current clients about the pros and cons of semaglutide and the impact the medication could have upon their mental health.  With semaglutide, there can be potential mental health impacts, both positive and negative. It’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional for personalized information and to monitor any effects.

Positive Mental Health Impact:

Improved Glycemic Control: By helping to regulate blood sugar levels, semaglutide can reduce the physical and psychological stress associated with uncontrolled diabetes. This may lead to an overall improvement in mental well-being.

Weight Changes: Semaglutide can lead to weight loss, which can have a positive mental health impact. Some individuals may experience improved self-esteem and mood due to weight loss.  

Negative Mental Health Impact:

Gastrointestinal Side Effects: Some people taking semaglutide may experience gastrointestinal side effects such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or abdominal pain. These side effects can be distressing and affect one’s mental health, causing anxiety or frustration.

Hypoglycemia: While less common with GLP-1 receptor agonists like semaglutide compared to some other diabetes medications, hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) can still occur. Severe hypoglycemia can lead to confusion, irritability, anxiety, and other mood disturbances.

Weight Changes: As noted above, semaglutide can lead to weight loss, which can have negative mental health implications. Some individuals may develop body image issues or disordered eating habits. Or, these medication-induced weight changes can re-trigger past disordered eating.  Those with a history of disordered eating should proceed with caution and work closely with their doctor and therapist as they consider the pros and cons of semaglutide.

Injection Anxiety: Semaglutide is administered through subcutaneous injections, and some individuals may experience anxiety or fear related to self-injections. This could impact their mental health if not adequately addressed.

It is essential to discuss any mental health concerns or changes with your healthcare provider while taking semaglutide. They can help you manage any side effects, monitor your mental well-being, and make necessary adjustments to your treatment plan if needed. Additionally, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise, a balanced diet, and stress management, can also have a positive impact on mental health.  

By Wendy Galyen, LCSW, BC-TMHOwner of Thrive for Life Counseling LLC