In my day I have blamed many things for creating excess weight gain. Of course, it never was the extra dish of ice cream or that wonderful pepperoni and cheese pizza or even my lack of exercising. But, never did I ever think of blaming any medication I was on at the time.

And now, because of some diligent studying I did on the Internet and going through some interesting reading material I found that “our pills” could be aiding in putting some extra pounds around our waistlines.

According to a 2007 report in Clinical Therapeutics, put out by the researchers of the University of Nebraska Medical Center, more people than ever before are using prescribed drugs for depression and bipolar disorders and at least one out of four people in the United States are suffering from allergies. These antipsychotic drugs, antihistamines and some of the over-the-counter drugs used in treatment may be contributing factors to extra weight gain.

As a result it may not be your lack of will power to exercise or that once in awhile dish of ice cream, it could be that drug you are taking for a medical condition. These drugs not only sedate you and slow down your metabolism; they also stimulate your appetite.

The last thing you want to hear is that one of the drugs you are taking is making you gain weight.

Some of the drugs that are responsible for weight gain are drugs taken for depression, anti-seizure medication, and medications for diabetes, hypertension, and migraines. Not to mention that birth control pills, hormones and steroids are also know to cause weight gain in people.

The interesting thing is that there is no known exact list of medications that cause people to gain weight because one pill may cause you to gain weight, but not cause your friend, neighbor or co-worker to gain any weight.

Also, there are other factors to consider, such as when you are feeling ill, your appetite lessons and once the drug starts making you feel better, you are apt to start eating more than usual. Some drugs such as steroids cause water retention.

What can a person do if they find they are gaining weight on a certain drug?

Weigh yourself each morning and keep track of your weight, if you notice a five-pound gain and suspect it is the medication, call your doctor and discuss the possibility of changing to another drug. If there is no other alternative and you need to stay on the drug, try eating a little less (a hundred to two hundred less calories a day) and exercising a little more (an extra ten-minute walk.) These little things could combat the weight gain along with drinking plenty of water.

One important thing to remember is that the extra weight might be minimal compared to the benefits you are receiving from the drug.

Here is a list of drugs and some of their side effects in relation to weight gain:

  • Antidrpressants: Some antidepressants affect neurotransmitters in your brain that control your appetite and your mood. Some of these are Lexapro, Zoloft, Tofranil, Paxil and Elavil. It is suggested you talk to your doctor if you find you are gaining weight and see if you can be put on a bupropion drug, these target neurochemicals that do not increase hunger.
  • Antipsychotics: Prescriptions containing haloperidol and clozapine can affect the appetite, along with Zyprexa and cause weight gain. Do not be afraid to ask for alternatives, which appear not to cause weight gain.
  • Antihistamines and sleep aids: Many over-the-counter allergy medications and sleep aids contain diphenhydramine which have a sedating effect and sap your energy if you take them regularly. As a result you are moving less and burning fewer calories. Here in the United States, Benadryl is best known to have this ingredient in it along with Tylenol Simply Sleep, Sominex, Nytol, Sudafed PE Nighttime Cold and Excedrin PM. Claritin or Zyrtec do not contain the sedating ingredient.
  • Blood Pressure Medication: Both alpha and beta blockers can cause fatigue, which means less energy to move around. Drugs such as Cardura, Inderol and Zebeta are known to cause some weight gain, ask your doctor to change you to an ACE inhibitor or a calcium channel blocker.
  • Migraine Medications: In the early days Depakote and Depakene were prescribed for migraines and caused weight gain, today doctors are more than likely to prescribe Imitrex or Topamax, neither of these cause weight gain.
  • Birth Control Pills: Birth control pills because of the estrogen in them may cause you to retain water ask your doctor if you find you are gaining water weight, to change your pill to a low-estrogen pill like Yasmin or the progestin only minipill.
  • Steriods: Such drugs as oral corticosteroids which are commonly used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and other chronic inflammatory diseases can add on pounds in many ways. They are known to rob calories from your energy stores and pass them along to your fat cells, thus making you tired and fatter all at the same time. Prednisone is often used also and that makes you very hungry. If you have to stay on steroids, it is important you work with a trainer and exercise as much as you can to keep the weight off. If possible have your doctor switch you to prescription strength NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as ibuprofen.
  • Cancer Therapy: Chemotherapy is apt to make women with breast cancer gain weight. No one knows why, but it happens. Also the drug tamoxifen may increase the appetite along with Decadron (a steroid.)
    Chemotherapy often induces early menopause and that in itself causes women to gain some weight. The best advice here is to work with an exercise and diet program that fits your needs,
  • Diabetes Drugs: Hypoglycemia which is low blood sugar can be brought on by Insulin and other drugs known as sulfonylureas. This condition can stimulate the appetite of a diabetic and cause weight gain. If you find you are suffering from hypoglycemia talk to your doctor about changing to a weight neutral medication such as metformin.

    If you found that you have gained weight from a drug you were taking and your doctor changed the medication, be patient, as you will not lose the weight as fast as you had gained it. It still will take fewer calories and a little more exercise to reach the results you are hoping for.

  • Author's Bio: 

    Audrey is an individual that is interested in animal health and people's health and well being. The author of many articles on subjects touching both catagories, she invites you to visit her websites, and If this article was of interest, you will find many more, touching on all aspects of health and well being for you and your pets.