7 Medications That Can Make You Gain Weight


More than 68% of the world suffers from some ailment requiring long term medication or treatment in 2020, according to WHO.

The healthcare and pharmaceutical industries have made immense changes in their operational and production processes to meet these demands.

But one of the most common problems associated with long term drug usage is the possible side effects that could disrupt your overall health and wellness.

Many people suffer allergic reactions and side effects of hair loss, weight gain/loss, appetite loss, depression, or more hazardous and life-threatening effects.

One of the most common side effects of certain medications is weight gain that could be influenced by

• Elevated Appetite – as they affect the cerebral area that responds when you are full

• Excess water retention

• Alleviated processing of stored fat

• Reduced metabolic rate

• Lack of physical activity

• Lethargy, drowsiness, or weakness

Here are seven classes of medications that are known to cause weight irregularities as a side effect.

1. Beta-Blockers

Beta-blockers are some of the most commonly used medications in the 21st century for treating elevated blood pressure also known as hypertension.

High blood pressure is often the root cause of chronic kidney or heart diseases/failure.

These medications can lead to severe and sudden weight gain among users who may also be using hormones influencing medication or going through treatment to regulate blood sugar.

The reason behind this is that beta-blockers aid in lowering heart rate to regulate pressure, which could thereby alleviate metabolic rate.

It causes you to burn a lesser number of calories even while doing the same day to day activities.

Therefore you have to be extra precautious while consuming beta-blockers as shedding the weight gain can also be difficult with a low metabolism.

2. Corticosteroids and Steroids

Steroids influence your metabolism and lead to increased appetite and overeating. One of the most common classes of steroids is known as Corticosteroids.

It is useful for treating different conditions like respiratory issues, chronic pain conditions, and allergic reactions by lowering the common stimuli of pain and inflammation.

Glucocorticoids are useful for treating severe asthma or pain during rheumatoid arthritis.

Usually prescribed for short term durations, long term usage of these steroids could link to more serious side effects as they can lead to excess fat deposits around the abdomen.

Some weight-neutral alternatives include injectable corticosteroids at the local point of pain or inhalation for asthma treatment.

For long term treatment, acetaminophen (Tylenol) or NSAIDs like ibuprofen or naproxen can be a powerful alternative.

Another class of steroids used for weight gain among athletes and weightlifters could also pose a risk of unexpected weight gain in some cases.

Maintaining proper dosage levels while using potent steroids such as Sustanoncan help receive positive benefits without weight gain.

3. Insulin

An estimated 7-8% of the world population suffers from diabetes, according to WHO, and there are several cases yet to go through diagnosis.

It makes it one of the most common diseases in today’s time. Statistics indicate that the majority of people suffering from diabetes are already overweight or prone to being overweight.

It could be due to common medications used for treatment such as insulin (Humulin N, Lantus), glipizide, pioglitazone, and glyburide.

Each of these medications can be responsible for your weight gain.


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The basic principle of insulin in the body is to regulate the sugar content in the bloodstream, thereby redirecting to tissues where they convert to energy. 

Insulin consumed during the treatment causes the body to absorb more glucose than necessary from the food and store as fat, which leads to weight gain.

It is the primary reason behind the emphasis on a strict diet for diabetics as any extra calorie, more than the necessary levels, will store it as fat.

The body cannot convert the sugar content in blood to energy, which encourages exponential weight gain.

4. Antidepressants

Studies show that people suffering from depression have a much higher chance of becoming obese. It could be due to unnatural eating habits to feel better or due to extreme hormonal fluctuations.

While depression could cause weight gain, sadly, even the medicines used to treat the condition may end up causing weight fluctuations in the patient.

Some common antidepressants with serotonin help to uplift mood, affect happiness, pleasure, and create a sense of euphoria in individuals.

These medications tend to initiate a weight gain effect on users. In contrast, certain drugs target dopamine levels in the body and are responsible for weight loss.

Side effects vary from one person to the other, and both weight gain and weight loss could be possible from these medications.

5. Birth Control

Many contraceptives are known to cause weight gain in women.

Birth control shots or pills are the most common contraceptives responsible for weight gain, according to the medical community.

They directly influence the hormone levels in the body that could lead to weight gain. 


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Most older contraceptives contain high doses of estrogen or progestin that can cause increased weight.

However, most newer medicines contain a low dosage of these hormones and are appropriate for short term durations without posing a risk of weight gain.

You can consult your gynecologist for alternatives such as IUDs that do not work with any hormones if you notice weight gain.

6. Antipsychotics

Many antipsychotics also seem to initiate weight fluctuation side effects in regular users.

Patients under antipsychotics should especially monitor weight fluctuations, glucose, and blood pressure levels regularly, as these medicines can influence these side effects in users.

These medications are generally useful for treating schizophrenia and psychosis and could cause a rapid increase in weight within the first few weeks.

These medications affect the brain’s appetite and satiety control center and affect metabolism.

These effects can be easy to manage through cognitive behavioral therapy or diet and lifestyle management.

Given the prescription stands for long term durations in many cases, it is important to closely monitor your body`s response and discuss alternatives with your doctor if required.

7. Antihistamines

Antihistamines are among the most common classes of medications on this list and are useful to treat allergies and symptoms of cold and flu.

They carry the potential to stimulate appetite, especially when put to use regularly, leading to weight gain.

Some doctors may prescribe antihistamines for long-term usage, which is not advisable, except in some circumstances.


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Weight gain is, in fact, a lesser-known side effect of antihistamines, the most common symptom being drowsiness, observed especially in older medications of this class.

Some believe that this sedative property could cause lethargy and low energy levels, resulting in low physical activity and weight gain.

But given that some of the older medications have been useful to initiate weight gain among underweight children or cancer patients going through chemotherapy, one might wonder if such side effects may extend to regular usage of these medications as well.


Most of the weight-related problems during the consumption of this medication are temporary and are easy to shed post the dosage term.

It is primarily due to a boost in appetite induced by these drugs.

It is important to keep a close watch on our body’s response to any new medication to understand if it might be causing side effects.

Consult your doctor to discuss alternatives or ways around in case you notice unnatural weight gain while you are under any new medication.

Author Bio:

Jessica Smith has been writing articles for e-business and elance sites for more than 4 years. Her educational background is Masters in English and journalism which gives her a broad platform to write on a variety of topics with ease and efficiency. She is an independent writer especially enjoys writing on fashion, lifestyle, health, and medical niche. 


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