Drugs are life-sustaining. They can help you treat various diseases and regain optimal body function. However, drugs also come with a myriad of side effects, including weight gain. If you have experienced a rapid increase in weight over a short period, it may be a direct result of using specific medication. It does not mean the drug is unhealthy or ineffective, and gaining weight is no reason to stop taking your medication.
Not all drugs will cause you to gain weight. Results also vary from one person to another, and medications affect weight gain in different ways. According to WebMD, some may boost your appetite for food, while others affect glucose and fat metabolism. Drugs that leave you too exhausted to exercise can also gradually cause you to gain weight. Here is a brief look at seven types of medications that can result in weight gain.
1. Antidepressants (Depression Medication)
Antidepressants and histamine-blockers are the biggest culprits of this cause. Experts say that up to 25% of people who use antidepressants gain weight. These medications affect neurotransmitters in the brain to cause mood elevation. They also block histamine receptors and may boost your appetite for food. Tri-Cyclic Antidepressants (TCAs) and Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) suffer the most blame for causing weight gain. If you suspect your antidepressant is causing you to gain weight, you should speak to your doctor to reduce the dose or prescribe an alternative. Popular antidepressants that can lead to weight gain include:
- Diazepam (Valium)
- Alprazolam (Xanax)
- Sertraline (Zoloft)
- Paroxetine (Paxil)
2. Antipsychotics (Mood Stabilizers)
Antipsychotic medication and mood stabilizers, given to bipolar and schizophrenic patients, work in the same way as antidepressants. They block histamine receptors and affect neurotransmitters like serotonin in the brain, resulting in temporary boosts in appetite and long-term weight gain. Some mood stabilizers may also slow down metabolic processes causing the body to store more calories. Conventional mood stabilizers that can cause weight gain include:
- Olanzapine (Zyprexa)
- Aripiprazole (Abilify)
- Haloperidol (Haldol)
- Quetiapine (Seroquel)
3. Diabetes Medication
Diabetes medication is another group notorious for causing weight gain. Unlike other families, diabetes drugs cause weight gain through water retention. Medicines such as Pioglitazone cause the body to retain more salt, causing water retention and weight gain. According to research, insulin levels can stimulate the synthesis of fatty cells in tissues. As a human growth hormone, insulin affects the synthesis of body tissues, thereby influencing how much fat the body can store. Popular diabetes medications that can cause weight gain include:
- Glipizide, Glimepiride
4. Steroids and Corticosteroids
Both anabolic steroids and corticosteroids can cause rapid weight gain. Steroids are ideal for performance enhancement and growth of strong lean muscles. They can also cause significant gains during the “gain cycles.” This is why fitness enthusiasts, athletes, and bodybuilders use them. Steroids increase metabolic rate and appetite for food. They can also potentially increase fatty tissues, abdomen size, and neck fullness. Combining steroids with meal plans and workout routines is one of the most effective ways to gain weight. They are also ideal for enhancing your workout performance if you want to shed some extra weight. There are several different steroids and brand names in the market. Common examples include performance enhancers, anabolic steroids, male boosters, and topical corticosteroids, among others.
5. Blood Pressure Medication
Blood pressure medications fall in a group known as beta-blockers. These drugs slow down metabolism causing the body to gain weight at a prolonged rate. They may also stimulate appetite for food. A boost in caloric intake combined with slow metabolism only increases your likelihood of gaining weight. However, not all blood pressure medications cause weight gain. You can still find weight-neutral alternatives. The conventional medicines with higher blame for weight gain include:
- Atenolol (Tenormin)
- Propranolol (Inderal)
6. Hormone Medication
Hormone medication can affect how your body metabolizes fat and glucose. Hormones can also impact tissue synthesis. Depo-Provera, a hormone medication given every three months for birth control, can cause significant weight gains. Studies also indicate that hormone replacement therapy can result in weight gain, especially in women. Popular hormone medications that can cause weight gain include:
- Estradiol valerate
7. Seizure, Nerve Pain and Migraine Prevention Medication
Anti-seizure and nerve-pain medication such as Gabapentin (Neurontin) can cause one to gain weight. These medications are known to boost appetite and also affect metabolic processes. However, AEDs (anti-epileptic drugs) can also cause weight loss. Others are weight neutral, so they do not cause any changes in weight. Some of the popular medications linked to weight gain include:
- Pregabalin (Lyrica)
- Divalproex (Depakote)
- Valproic acid
Other drugs that can cause weight gain
Several other medications cause weight gain. Allergy medications, such as Benadryl (Diphenhydramine) and Allegra (fexofenadine), block histamine activity. They also cause weight gain over prolonged use. Drugs offered for epileptic fits, convulsions, and cancer also have fluid retention properties and can cause weight gain. Other groups include Opioids (Hydrocodone, Oxycodone), Nausea Drugs (Droperidol), and Topical Painkillers like Cyclobenzaprine. If you suspect your medication is causing you to gain weight, raise the matter with your physician.
It is important to acknowledge that weight gain may be a side effect of some medication, and not necessarily all drugs in the family. Not all antidepressants cause weight gain; only a few formulas carry this blame. As aforementioned, several factors affect the weight gain you experience. People react differently to medication. Some people won’t even notice they are gaining weight. Others will see significant gains within a short duration of using given medication.
Not all weight gain is terrible. For instance, you can use steroids such as Anavar to spur the growth and development of lean muscle. If you are underweight, this option can help you achieve decent muscle mass and weight. However, if you do not want to gain weight, you can consult your doctor for alternative prescriptions or advice on how to avoid gaining extra pounds. You might also want to adjust your lifestyle and avoid sedentary practices that contribute to unwanted weight gain.