Ozempic Personality: How weight loss drugs can affect your behavior

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Can weight loss drugs like Ozempic, Wegovy, and Zepbound really alter your personality? FreshSplash/Getty Images
  • Ozempic personality is a side effect reported by some users of popular GLP-1 obesity and diabetes medications.
  • The term refers to a set of mental health problems, including increased anxiety, depression and anhedonia.
  • Experts contacted by Healthline disputed the term and reaffirmed that GLP-1 medications are safe and effective.

First, there was Ozempic face, then Ozempic ass, and now there is a new side effect known as Ozempic personality, which is reported among users of the popular drug, but what is it, and there any scientific support?

Terms like Ozempic face and Ozempic butt have gained traction among the general public to describe the profound weight loss effects of Ozempic and similar drugs. These drugs (which include Wegovy, Mounjaro, Zepbound, and others) belong to a class of drugs known as glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists (GLP-1 RAs).

These drugs work by simulating a hormone secreted in the gut that slows digestion, makes you feel fuller, and increases the brain’s sense of satiety.

The drugs have proven to be incredibly effective for weight loss, with some patients losing 20% ​​of their body weight.

Such a powerful drug has created a whole new vocabulary for how people talk about their experiences, giving rise to terms like Ozempic butt. While these terms are certainly not valid scientific terms, they can potentially be indicators of side effects.

The latest term, personality Ozempic, which has been reported on social media and has appeared in various media outlets, including the NY Posyou The Daily Mail, suggests that patients using GLP-1 drugs may experience changes in their mood and behavior. Some have gone on to say that the drugs have caused increased anxiety, depression and even suicidal ideation.

It should be noted that despite these anecdotal reports, a large to study recently found no link between GLP-1 medications and suicidal ideation. Additionally, experts contacted by Healthline refuted many of the claims made about Ozempic’s personality and denounced the negative light he casts on people who use drugs.

Whoever makes this stuff up really doesn’t understand, Caroline Apovian, MD, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and co-director of the Center for Weight Management and Wellness at Brigham and Womens Hospital, told Healthline.

Sun Kim, MD, associate professor of endocrinology at Stanford Health, told Healthline:

GLP-1s can change your relationship with food. Food is an integral part of social activity, and when it’s less important to you, it can change your social interactions. My patients, especially those with diabetes or significant comorbidities associated with obesity, are mostly happy with their new GLP-1 lifestyle. They can care less about food; they can be more active.

Although there is no single definition for the term, it encompasses a set of symptoms or feelings. The most common symptoms of the Ozempic personality are:

  • Worse mood
  • Increased feelings of anxiety and depression
  • Feelings of anhedonia or lack of interest in previously enjoyed activities
  • Decreased libido (less interest in sex)

These negative feelings are usually attributed to changes in the dopamine or reward center of the brain. But it’s not entirely clear how GLP-1 drugs interact with dopamine in the brain.

Derek Daniels, PhD, professor and chair of the Department of Biological Sciences at the University at Buffalo, has studied the effects of GLP-1 medications on thirst and drinking behavior in animal models.

As they get these signals from the eating or drinking process, it all feeds back into the dopamine systems, making them less responsive to more eating or drinking, he told Healthline.

Whether GLP-1 makes an animal feel full faster and then those signals are what lowers dopamine, or whether GLP-1 acts directly on dopamine receptors so they respond less, I don’t know the answer to that, Daniels said. .

But there might also be a simpler answer: Eating less, losing weight, and giving up the foods you love is hard.

You’re calming yourself down with all those bad foods and developing obesity, so now you don’t feel like rewarding yourself with sugary foods and you’re in a bad mood. Ozempic is not the one who did this. It was addiction in the first place. That’s how I think people should look at this, Apovian said.

By directly or indirectly affecting the dopamine system, GLP-1 drugs such as Ozempic and Wegovy may play a larger role in reducing cravings of all kinds.

I am not surprised that there are general changes in people taking these drugs. “I think some of it is probably subtle, but in animal models, these drugs reverse almost any motivated behavior that we can imagine,” Daniels said.

Researchers have looked at the role these medications may play in other addictive disorders, such as drugs, alcohol and tobacco.

A review of the medical literature published in 2022 found that GLP-1 drugs resulted in powerful reductions in alcohol and substance use.

The report also states that people with obesity and people with addiction have overlapping brain dysregulations, and the antiobesity effects of GLP1 receptor agonists support the potential utility of GLP1 receptor agonists for the treatment of substance use disorder and alcohol use disorder.

Another study that same year found that GLP-1 drugs could also represent an important step in the development of new drug therapies for cocaine use disorder.

Experts agreed that they don’t like the negative connotations of the term Ozempic personality, but that doesn’t mean people using GLP-1 drugs aren’t dealing with real mental health issues.

I don’t like this headline. I don’t think it’s a personality change. I think it’s changing the way people think about food, said Rachel Goldman, PhD, a licensed psychologist in private practice in New York and a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry at New York University.

Goldman, who works with obese patients and those who have undergone bariatric surgery, understands the challenges, both mental and physical, that patients face during weight loss.

It will help you be healthier. It will help you on this health journey, but depending on what is going on in your life, it may or may not improve these depressive symptoms. It is unrealistic to think that just losing weight will make everyone happy and healthy.

He encourages anyone taking weight loss medication who has mental health issues to discuss them with a health professional.

Daniels adds that it’s also important to look at the big picture with any course of treatment:

They are really promising drugs. I think you have to balance the risks and benefits of the drug you are trying to treat. Clearly, obesity is a huge health problem that comes with all kinds of horrible risks. So, even if these drugs have a downside, you have to take it in the context of all the advantages.

Reports of the so-called Ozempic personality have begun to appear on social networks and through various media.

The term is not scientific, but characterizes a sense of worsening mental health, including anxiety, depression, and anhedonia in people taking GLP-1 medications such as Ozempic and Wegovy.

Experts interviewed by Healthline expressed frustration with the term’s negative connotations and reiterated that GLP-1 drugs are safe and effective.

People experiencing mental health problems should address them with health professionals.

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