Semaglutide-Based Drugs Wegovy and Ozempic Linked to Lower Risk of Suicidal Thoughts in Patients

In recent years, semaglutide-based medications such as Wegovy and Ozempic have become increasingly popular for treating diabetes and obesity. A groundbreaking study, funded by the National Institutes of Health and conducted by NIH and Case Western Reserve University researchers, reveals a significant finding: patients using these drugs exhibit a lower risk of suicidal thoughts compared to those on other treatments for the same conditions.

Background on Semaglutide

Semaglutide, the active ingredient in Wegovy and Ozempic, operates by targeting hormones in the gut and brain that regulate appetite and fullness. This approach contrasts sharply with older weight-loss drugs, making it a novel treatment option for obesity and diabetes.

The Study’s Findings

The research analyzed electronic medical records from over 1.8 million patients prescribed semaglutide or other drugs for obesity or diabetes from 2017 to 2022. The critical insights are:

  • Among the 1.8 million patients, around 240,000 were treated for obesity or being overweight, and nearly 1.6 million for diabetes.
  • Those taking semaglutide had a 49% to 73% lower risk of experiencing first-time or recurring suicidal thoughts than those on alternative treatments during a six-month follow-up.
  • This revelation prompts a call for a more in-depth evaluation of suicidal thoughts linked to these drugs and a longer follow-up period for patients.

Significance of the Findings

The findings are particularly noteworthy as they challenge anecdotal reports suggesting a link between semaglutide and increased suicidal thoughts or self-harm. In response to these reports, both the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are conducting investigations.

Industry Response

Novo Nordisk, the manufacturer of Wegovy and Ozempic, has responded to the study. A company spokesperson indicated that the study’s findings align with their data from extensive clinical trials and post-market surveillance, showing no causal association between semaglutide and suicidal thoughts or self-harm.

Understanding the Context

It’s important to note that obesity and diabetes are, independently, risk factors for suicidal thoughts. The study, however, wasn’t designed to ascertain if GLP-1 drugs, which include semaglutide, directly reduce these thoughts. Study co-author Dr. Rong Xu of Case Western emphasizes this point.

The Mechanism of GLP-1 Drugs

GLP-1 receptor agonists, like semaglutide, function by influencing hormones related to appetite and satiety. This mechanism is distinct from that of older weight-loss drugs, marking a significant advancement in treatment options.

Implications and Future Directions

The study’s implications are vast, especially considering the millions of people in the U.S. using semaglutide. With Wegovy’s approval for obesity treatment in June 2021, its popularity has surged. This research not only offers reassurance regarding the safety of these drugs but also underscores the need for:

  • Further investigation into the relationship between GLP-1 drugs and mental health.
  • Long-term patient follow-up to monitor and understand the full spectrum of effects.
  • Continued vigilance by regulatory bodies like the EMA and FDA in evaluating new data and reports.


In summary, this comprehensive study sheds new light on the effects of semaglutide-based drugs, Wegovy and Ozempic, particularly in the context of mental health. It highlights a lower risk of suicidal thoughts among users, challenging previous anecdotal evidence. As the medical community continues to unravel the complexities of these drugs, this research serves as a crucial step in understanding their broader impact on patient health.