Wegovy®, Ozempic®, Rybelsus®, Saxenda®, Victoza®, Trulicity®, and Mounjaro® (Tirzepatide)

GLP-1 medications, such as semaglutide, are well-known for providing consistent weight loss outcomes for individuals trying to lose weight, as well as improving blood sugar control in individuals with type 2 diabetes. However, these medications have been proven to offer a range of benefits beyond weight loss. In addition to their positive impact on obesity-related outcomes, GLP-1 medications have been found to help patients increase their quality of life due to multiple, lesser-known advantages such as lowered blood pressure, decreased risk of cardiac events, and even decreased levels of inflammation.  


How do GLP Medications Work? 

GLP-1 medications (glucagon-like peptide 1 agonists) are one of the most effective drug classes for long-term weight loss available. These medications work by activating the body’s GLP-1 receptors that are responsible for making individuals feel full after they eat by mimicking the actions of the natural hormone.  

When GLP-1 receptors are activated, these medications help stimulate insulin secretion (allowing cells to take up glucose to convert into energy), decrease glucagon production (improving insulin sensitivity), and slow down gastric emptying to help individuals feel “full” for longer amounts of time. This means that glucose is better regulated, leading to more stable blood sugar levels throughout the day. 

Due to their impact on the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar and reduce appetite, these medications have shown remarkable impact on individual’s A1c levels, BMI (Body Mass Index), and overall management of symptoms related to an overweight or obesity diagnosis. While weight loss is typically the prioritized benefit, the primary goal of GLP-1 medications is to optimize metabolic health and provide better glucose regulation, which inherently can lead to multiple positive side effects that are discussed further in this article. At a minimum, improved glycemic control in individuals with Type 2 Diabetes reduces the risk of kidney damage, nerve problems, and vision loss, which are common in patients with uncontrolled diabetes. Throughout this article, we’ll dive into multiple clinical studies citing reported physical and mental health benefits due to the use of GLP-1 medications.  


GLP-1’s Impacts on Physical Health 

Multiple clinical studies have pointed to GLP-1 medication’s ability to help reduce inflammation in the body. GLP-1 receptors are most notably understood to be in the gut, but these receptors have been discovered in other organs as well, paving the way for further understanding of GLP-1’s impacts beyond digestive and metabolic health. Emerging studies suggest that GLP-1 based therapies have exhibited anti-inflammatory effects in the liver, vascular system, brain, kidneys, lungs, testes, and skin (1). While GLP-1s are not currently prescribed exclusively for this purpose, further research is being conducted on the use of GLP-1 medications as a treatment for chronic inflammatory diseases, neurodegenerative disorders, diabetic nephropathy, asthma, depression, addiction and even psoriasis.  

Another notable benefit being explored in current clinical research is the ability of GLP-1 medications to reduce the risk of severe cardiac events in high-risk individuals. In multiple studies, individuals with high cardiovascular risk factors were given semaglutide, a type of GLP-1 medication, which led to significantly fewer cardiac events during the trial period (2). Additionally, in August of 2023, Novo Nordisk, the manufacturer of Wegovy, a popular semaglutide GLP-1 medication, announced that semaglutide reduced the risk of major adverse cardiovascular events by 20% in adults suffering from obesity (3).  

Lastly, a recent study has noted that GLP-1 medications could be a viable future option for treating non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), which currently does not have any available treatment other than weight loss. The study states that the use of GLP-1s led to an average weight loss between 9.6% and 17.4% over the 68-week trial period, as well as an improvement of lipid profile when used for the treatment of obesity. Weight loss of at least 10% is the target for individuals with NAFLD, which was achieved in over 70% of patients taking semaglutide involved in the clinical trial. (4)  


Exploring the Mental Health Impacts of GLP-1 Medications 

In addition to their physical health benefits, GLP-1 medications have been reported to have multiple positive impacts on individuals’ mental health. When health issues that have been plaguing individuals for a substantial amount of time, such as the ones mentioned above, are improved or resolved it is unsurprising that mental health improvement follows due to quality-of-life improvement. 

Many patients report feeling happier due to simply feeling better in their bodies. This could be attributed to decreased joint pain or improved cardiovascular health due to weight loss as well as the increased secretion of insulin, which helps cells convert glucose into energy.  

Furthermore, patients on GLP-1 report they can pursue more of their favorite physical activities and report feeling more present in their daily lives because they are no longer dealing with constant cravings and thoughts of food, due to one of GLP-1’s common effects: increased satiety. With mental health outcomes such as those listed above, it’s important to dive deeper into GLP-1’s impact on blood sugar, and furthermore blood sugar’s impact on overall mental health.  


The Link Between Blood Sugar and Mood 

When blood sugar levels spike and drop, there can be corresponding mental health symptoms such as increased stress, depression, irritability, or anxiety. One of GLP-1’s main functions is to inhibit glucagon secretion, which prevents more glucose from being released into the bloodstream, lowering blood sugar levels. In multiple recent studies, there is significant evidence pointing to a correlation between higher glycemic variability (sugar spikes and crashes) and negative mental health symptoms such as depression and anxiety. In a 2012 study, data concluded that greater glycemic variability could be associated with negative moods based on reporting from 23 women with Type 2 Diabetes. Patients with higher occurrences of anxiety tended to also have higher glucose fluctuations throughout the day (5). While these studies are still in development, many GLP-1 patients have reported that they feel more stability in their moods and increased motivation to take care of their health.  

With any medication, always consult the advice of a licensed medical provider to determine your best treatment options. This information is not intended to diagnose, prescribe, or treat any medical conditions.  

At Options Medical Weight Loss, our comprehensive care team of licensed medical providers and health coaches work together to create customized weight loss plans tailored to patients’ individual needs, aspirations, and lifestyles. If you think GLP-1 medications might be a good fit for you, our team is here to answer your questions. To learn more about GLP-1 medications and to contact our care team, visit our website

In conclusion, GLP-1 medications have the potential to bring about numerous benefits for individuals struggling with obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Its approval and use in clinical settings offer hope to those who have been grappling with these conditions, providing an effective tool for managing blood sugar, improving insulin regulation, and reducing cardiovascular risks. While it is important to acknowledge the potential side effects associated with any medication, when used under proper medical supervision, this medication has the potential to transform lives and help patients achieve a healthier future.