Which Medications Cause the Most Weight Gain?

Reviewed on 7/13/2021

Weight loss eludes you despite you eating right and exercising daily. Medications that may be associated with weight gain include antidepressants, steroids, diabetes medications, mood stabilizers, blood pressure medications, seizure medications, migraine medications, antiretroviral medications, contraceptives and others.
Weight loss eludes you despite you eating right and exercising daily. Medications that may be associated with weight gain include antidepressants, steroids, diabetes medications, mood stabilizers, blood pressure medications, seizure medications, migraine medications, antiretroviral medications, contraceptives and others.

Your weight loss eludes you despite you eating right and exercising daily. What might be the cause? Well, the medicines you take may often be the culprits behind your unreasonable weight gain. Here are some medicines that can cause weight gain if you take them regularly.

Antidepressant medications: Weight gain is a well-known side effect of many drugs given for mood disorders.

Steroid medications:

Diabetes medications:

Mood stabilizers:

Hypertensive medications:

  • Diuretics may help you lose temporary water weight, but they can also lead to weight gain because your body may become “thirsty” after taking them. Your brain can interpret your thirst for hunger and you eat more. Moreover, reduced water content of the body often makes the body retain water and salt, causing the so-called increase in water weight.
  • Beta-blockers reduce the reaction your body has to exercise and prevent an increase in your heart rate during exercise, making your body burn fewer calories. They also cause you to feel tired, which makes you feel unable to work out and causes you to gain weight.

Seizure medications:

Migraine medications: Common migraine medications that may increase weight include

Contraceptives: Contraceptives that you take orally or that are injected have been associated with weight gain. Common contraceptives that may increase weight include

Antiretroviral medications:

  • These medications are used for treating human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). There are various types that work in various ways.
  • Typically, people with HIV take three or more of these medications together or these medications can be combined into a single pill. Unfortunately, they are also linked with unavoidable weight gain.

Others: Antihistamines such as Allegra, Zyrtec and Periactin and medications taken for hyperthyroidism (radioactive iodine and oral antithyroid medications such as carbimazole).

You should talk to your healthcare provider about drugs and weight gain. If weight gain is a concern, ask your doctor to substitute your medicine. Doctors and obesity researchers say that weight gain is associated with a few categories or families of drugs, not necessarily some specific brands. Moreover, not everyone who takes these medicines puts on pounds. Happily, people who do usually have an alternative medication they can try.

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References
university of Rochester Medical Center: "When Your Weight Gain Is Caused by Medicine." https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contenttypeid=56&contentid=DM300

Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome and Obesity: Targets and Therapy: "Medications That Cause Weight Gain and Alternatives in Canada: A Narrative Reviews." https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6109660/

Obesity Medicine Association: "Medications That May Increase Weight." https://obesitymedicine.org/medications-that-cause-weight-gain/

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