GLP-1 Receptor Agonists and Related Mental Health Issues; Insights from a Range of Social Media Platforms Using a Mixed-Methods Approach

Davide Arillotta, Giuseppe Floresta, Amira Guirguis, John Martin Corkery, Valeria Catalani, Giovanni Martinotti, Stefano L. Sensi, Fabrizio Schifano, Alessandro Rossi (Editor)

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Abstract

The emergence of glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists (GLP-1 RAs; semaglutide and others) now promises effective, non-invasive treatment of obesity for individuals with and without diabetes. Social media platforms’ users started promoting semaglutide/Ozempic as a weight-loss treatment, and the associated increase in demand has contributed to an ongoing worldwide shortage of the drug associated with levels of non-prescribed semaglutide intake. Furthermore, recent reports emphasized some GLP-1 RA-associated risks of triggering depression and suicidal thoughts. Consistent with the above, we aimed to assess the possible impact of GLP-1 RAs on mental health as being perceived and discussed in popular open platforms with the help of a mixed-methods approach. Reddit posts yielded 12,136 comments, YouTube videos 14,515, and TikTok videos 17,059, respectively. Out of these posts/entries, most represented matches related to sleep-related issues, including insomnia (n = 620 matches); anxiety (n = 353); depression (n = 204); and mental health issues in general (n = 165). After the initiation of GLP-1 RAs, losing weight was associated with either a marked improvement or, in some cases, a deterioration, in mood; increase/decrease in anxiety/insomnia; and better control of a range of addictive behaviors. The challenges of accessing these medications were a hot topic as well. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study documenting if and how GLP-1 RAs are perceived as affecting mood, mental health, and behaviors. Establishing a clear cause-and-effect link between metabolic diseases, depression and medications is difficult because of their possible reciprocal relationship, shared underlying mechanisms and individual differences. Further research is needed to better understand the safety profile of these molecules and their putative impact on behavioral and non-behavioral addictions.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1503
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalBrain Sciences
Volume13
Issue number11
Early online date24 Oct 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 24 Oct 2023

Keywords

  • sleep disorders
  • social media
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • netnography
  • GLP-1 receptor agonists
  • mental health
  • semaglutide
  • food cravings

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