Certain medications are known for interfering with metabolism and other bodily processes, making weight gain a common side effect of many prescription drugs. Medications that cause weight gain may do so because of fluid retention, increased appetite, and changes in hormones. Weight gain may not be listed as a side effect on some medications, so it’s important to talk to your doctor and understand the risks of any new medication.
Sometimes, the benefits gained from using your medication outweigh the risk of weight gain or the consequences of not using the medication at all. But in some instances, weight gain related to medication use can negate the effects of your treatment — such as weight gain caused by antidepressants, which can lead to more severe depression.
Though some medications may affect body weight, not everyone is guaranteed to gain weight when using these medications. If you happen to be using any medications that cause weight gain, understand there are steps you can take to prevent and lower your risk of putting on extra weight.
Here are five medications that cause weight gain, and steps you can take to maintain your body weight if you are taking any of these drugs.
Serotonin reuptake inhibitors like Zoloft and Prozac are the most commonly prescribed antidepressants. SSRIs may be effective at elevating your mood, but act on the same brain receptors that affect your appetite. People who use SSRIs may experience increased cravings for unhealthy foods — especially those high in carbohydrates. Talk to your doctor about options for other antidepressants that are not known to cause weight gain, or about evidence-based non-drug treatments for depression.
2. Birth control
Bloating and water retention are common side effects of hormonal birth control pills and shots, which can affect your weight. Birth control medications also supply your body with more progesterone, which can drive your appetite and increase certain cravings. If you’re currently using birth control medications, consider switching to other methods, such as barrier methods or a hormone-free IUD.
Regular use of over-the-counter and/or prescription antihistamines has been linked to weight gain. Scientists say antihistamines inhibit the body’s natural histamine production and stimulate appetite as a result. If you suffer from allergies and use antihistamines on a regular basis, consider using other treatments that can relieve symptoms without causing weight gain, such as nasal spray for congestion.
4. Beta blockers and angiotensin-receptor blockers
These heart and blood pressure medications have been shown to cause an average weight gain of between five and seven pounds, and can slow down metabolism, which increases the risk of obesity. If you’re taking beta blockers or angiotensin-receptor blockers to manage your heart health, start exercising regularly, get plenty of sleep, and focus on eating a healthy low-glycemic diet. These factors can help stave off any potential weight gain caused by these medications.
5. Migraine medications
Tricyclic antidepressants, anti-seizure medications, and blood pressure medications are all migraine prevention drugs known to cause weight gain. If you’re considering discontinuing use of these medications to circumvent any effects on your weight, talk to your doctor and work on identifying triggers that lead to your migraine headaches. Then, find ways to avoid or manage those triggers so you can lower your likelihood of experiencing migraines. For instance, if you know that your migraines are related to stress, work on incorporating mindfulness techniques and other practices that can help lower your stress levels.
If you’re concerned about gaining weight or if you meet risk factors for weight gain, such as type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure, talk to your doctor about safe, effective treatments for your health conditions that won’t trigger weight gain.
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