9 Types of Medication That May Cause Weight Gain

Prescription Drugs

9 Types of Medication That May Cause Weight Gain

Jennifer Hadley
By Jennifer Hadley
Jan 14, 2021 - Updated Feb 16, 2021
Carina Fung, PharmD, BCPPS
Medically Reviewed ByCarina Fung, PharmD, BCPPS
An illustration of a woman holding her stomach while stepping on the weight scale.

An unpleasant side effect of prescription medication can be weight gain. While the majority of prescription medications do not list weight gain as a possible side effect, other prescription medications are known for causing some people to gain small or even significant amounts of weight.

Here’s a breakdown of nine different types of medications that may cause you to gain weight.

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Nine Types of Medication That Can Cause You To Gain Weight

Dozens of specific medications used to treat nine different health conditions are known for contributing to weight gain in some people. The nine types of medications include:

  1. Antidepressant medications
  2. Antipsychotic medications
  3. Antihistamine medications
  4. Anxiety medications
  5. Steroid medications
  6. Diabetes medications
  7. Blood pressure medications
  8. Seizure medications
  9. Opioid pain medications

Antidepressant Medications That Cause Weight Gain

A variety of medications used to treat depression can cause weight gain. They include tricyclic antidepressants, monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), and SSRIs.

Medication Lowest Price for Common Dosages*
fluoxetine hydrochloride $4.00
sertraline $8.95
paroxetine $66.06
citalopram hydrobromide $4.00
amitriptyline $4.00
phenelzine sulfate $18.52

Fluoxetine Hydrochloride (Generic Prozac)

Fluoxetine hydrochloride is often known by its brand name Prozac. Prozac is an SSRI used to treat depression. It may cause weight gain.

Sertraline (Generic Zoloft)

Sertraline, which is the generic for Zoloft, is an SSRI used to treat depression, PTSD, and OCD may cause weight gain.

Paroxetine (Generic Paxil)

Paroxetine which is the generic for Paxil is an SSRI used to treat depression, PTSD, and OCD. It may cause weight gain.

Citalopram Hydrobromide (Generic Celexa)

Citalopram hydrobromide is the generic for Celexa, an antidepressant medication. Celexa is an SSRI used to treat depression. It may cause weight gain.

Amitriptyline

Amitriptyline is a tricyclic antidepressant used to treat mood and mental problems including depression. Amitriptyline may cause weight gain.

Phenelzine Sulfate (Generic Nardil)

Phenelzine sulfate, which is the generic for Nardil, is an MAOI used to treat depression. Phenelzine sulfate and the brand drug Nardil may cause weight gain.

Antipsychotic Medications That Cause Weight Gain

A side effect of several antipsychotic medications may be weight gain. Antipsychotic medications are used to treat a variety of mental health conditions including schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder.

Medication Lowest Price for Common Dosages*
quetiapine fumarate $9.00
olanzapine $9.00
haloperidol lactate $0.36
aripiprazole $10.16

Quetiapine Fumarate (Generic Seroquel)

Quetiapine fumarate is the generic for Seroquel. It is an antipsychotic medication (atypical type). Seroquel and its generic form may cause weight gain.

Olanzapine (Generic Zyprexa)

Olanzapine is the generic for Zyprexa. It is an antipsychotic medication used to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. It may cause some people to gain weight.

Haloperidol Lactate (Generic Haldol)

Haloperidol lactate is the generic form of Haldol. It is an antipsychotic medication used to treat schizophrenia. Haldol may cause weight gain in some patients.

Aripiprazole (Generic Abilify)

Aripiprazole is generic for the brand name antipsychotic medication Abilify. It is used to treat schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and Tourette’s syndrome. It may cause weight gain.

Antihistamine Medications That May Cause Weight Gain

Over the counter and prescription antihistamines may cause some people to gain weight. These medications are used to alleviate symptoms of allergies including watery eyes, runny nose, sneezing, itching, and hives.

Medication Lowest Price for Common Dosages*
cetirizine hydrochloride $7.81

Cetirizine Hydrochloride (Generic for Zyrtec)

Cetirizine hydrochloride is an antihistamine medication that may cause weight gain. It is used to alleviate allergy symptoms.

Benadryl

Benadryl is an over the counter antihistamine used to treat allergy symptoms. It may cause weight gain.

Anxiety Medications That May Cause Weight Gain

Medications used to treat anxiety may contribute to weight gain. Known as benzodiazepines, these calming medications may cause some people to gain weight.

Medication Lowest Price for Common Dosages*
diazepam $4.69
alprazolam $3.82

Diazepam (Generic Valium)

Diazepam is the generic form of Valium. It is used to treat anxiety. Diazepam may contribute to weight gain.

Alprazolam (Generic Xanax)

Alprazolam is the generic form of Xanax. It is prescribed to treat anxiety and panic disorders. Alprazolam and Xanax may cause some people to gain weight.

Steroid Medications That May Cause Weight Gain

Steroid medications, known as corticosteroids may cause weight gain. These medications are used to treat a variety of inflammatory conditions including arthritis, breathing problems, cancer, allergies, and more.

Medication Lowest Price for Common Dosages*
prednisone $3.34

Prednisone

Prednisone is a widely prescribed steroid medication used to reduce swelling, inflammation, and allergic-type reactions. It may cause bloating and weight gain.

Diabetes Medications That May Cause Weight Gain

Medications used to control high blood sugar in people who have type 2 diabetes may cause weight gain.

Medication Lowest Price for Common Dosages*
glipizide $3.22
pioglitazone $14.95

Glipizide (Generic Glucotrol)

Glipizide is the generic for Glucotrol. It is used to control high blood sugar in people who have type 2 diabetes. It may cause weight gain.

Pioglitazone (Generic Actos)

Pioglitazone is the generic for the brand name drug Actos. It may be prescribed to people with type 2 diabetes and may cause weight gain.

Blood Pressure Medications That May Cause Weight Gain

Medications used to treat hypertension (high blood pressure) may cause some people to gain weight. Known as beta-blockers, these medications are used to lower blood pressure.

Medication Lowest Price for Common Dosages*
atenolol $4.00
metoprolol tartrate $4.00

Atenolol (Generic Tenormin)

Atenolol is the generic for Tenormin. It is used to lower blood pressure in those with hypertension. Atenolol may cause weight gain.

Metoprolol Tartrate (Generic Lopressor)

Metoprolol tartrate is the generic form of Lopressor. It may be prescribed to people diagnosed with high blood pressure. Metoprolol tartrate and Lopressor may cause weight gain.

Seizure Medications That May Cause Weight Gain

Antiseizure medications, also known as anticonvulsants, may cause some individuals to gain weight. These medications may treat focal seizures or seizure disorder.

Medication Lowest Price for Common Dosages*
divalproex sodium $11.70
pregabalin $13.00

Divalproex Sodium (Generic Depakote)

Divalproex sodium is the generic form of Depakote. It is used to treat seizure disorders. It may be associated with weight gain.

Pregabalin (Generic Lyrica)

Pregabalin is the generic form of Lyrica. It is used to treat several conditions, including focal seizures. Pregabalin may contribute to weight gain.

Opioid Medications That May Cause Weight Gain

There is some evidence that suggests that with chronic (long-term) use, opioid pain medications may have effects on metabolism that can lead to changes in weight, such as weight gain. Opioid pain medications are used to relieve moderate to severe pain.

Medication Lowest Price for Common Dosages*
oxycodone $5.10
hydrocodone $2.84

Oxycodone (Generic for Percocet)

Oxycodone is the generic for Percocet. It is used to treat pain. It works by changing how your body experiences and responds to pain. Oxycodone may contribute to weight gain.

Hydrocodone (Generic Lortab, Norco, Vicodin)

Hydrocodone is an opioid pain reliever used to relieve moderate to severe pain. Hydrocodone may contribute to weight gain.

The Risk of Opioid Use

Opioids are typically prescribed to treat pain but can lead to physical dependence and addiction. Inappropriate opioid use can lead to an overdose. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2018 69.5% of drug related deaths were due to opioid overdoses.

Do not take opioids without a prescription. As with any other medication, if you are currently prescribed an opioid, take them as prescribed under the guidance of your health care provider. Always discuss symptoms, or changes in your medication dosage with your health care provider while taking an opioid medication.

What causes medicine-related weight gain?

Medicine-related weight gain is not caused by the medication, directly. After all, tablets and capsules don’t have many calories, if they have any at all. Instead, medication-related weight gain is caused by how the medication may affect your body.

Increased appetite

Some medications may stimulate your appetite. This leads to increased feelings of hunger, and the extra consumption of calories.

Increased fat storage

Some medications may change the way your body stores fat. This can lead to medication related weight gain.

Difficulty exercising

Medications which cause drowsiness or a feeling of shortness of breath, can make it more difficult or uncomfortable to exercise. Lack of exercise while on certain medications may lead to weight gain.

Retaining fluid

Some medications may cause you to retain water, which will lead to weight gain even if you aren’t consuming additional calories, or storing additional fat.

Slowed metabolism

Some medications can slow down the rate at which your body burns calories, leading to weight gain. Other medications may alter the way in which your body stores sugar, leading to weight gain.

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Notify Your Health Care Provider of Medication-Related Weight Gain

If you’ve noticed weight gain since beginning a new medication or changing medication, tell your health care provider. Do not stop your medication without speaking to your doctor.

Your health care provider will likely review your dietary and exercise habits with you to ensure that nothing has changed, which could be responsible for the weight gain. If the medication is contributing to weight gain, your health care provider can offer suggestions for losing or maintaining weight. In some cases, a different medication may be prescribed.

fluoxetine hydrochloride: 20 mg / 30 capsules sertraline: 100 mg / 30 tablets paroxetine: 7.5 mg / 30 capsules citalopram hydrobromide: 20 mg / 30 tablets amitriptyline: 25 mg / 30 tablets phenelzine sulfate: 15 mg / 40 tablets quetiapine fumarate: 25 mg / 30 tablets olanzapine: 5 mg / 30 tablets haloperidol lactate: 5 mg/ml / 1 vial aripiprazole: 5 mg / 30 tablets cetirizine hydrochloride: 1 mg/ml / 150 ml diazepam: 5 mg / 30 tablets alprazolam: 5 mg / 30 tablets prednisone: 20 mg / 30 tablets glipizide: 5 mg / 30 tablets pioglitazone: 30 mg / 30 tablets atenolol: 25 mg / 30 tablets metoprolol tartrate: 25 mg / 30 tablets divalproex sodium: 125 mg / 30 cap dr sprs pregabalin: 75 mg / 30 tablets oxycodone: 5mg / 30 tablets hydrocodone: 5 mg-325 mg / 30 tablets

*Lowest online price at national pharmacy chains Costco, CVS, RiteAid, Walgreens and Walmart as of 2/16/2020. Prices vary by location and pharmacy, see RxSaver.com for actual pricing in your area.

Jennifer Hadley

Jennifer Hadley

Jen Hadley is a freelance writer and journalist based in Los Angeles, who writes extensively about the medical, legal, health care, and consumer products industries. Jen is a regular contributor to RxSaver.

Carina Fung, PharmD, BCPPS

Carina Fung, PharmD, BCPPS

Carina Fung, PharmD, BCPPS., is a pharmacist who earned her PharmD from St. John’s University in Queens, NY. She maintains an active practice, serving as a Board-Certified Pediatric Pharmacotherapy Specialist at a large metropolitan teaching hospital in New York City. Carina has also published in pharmacy journals and works as a consultant reviewing medical articles for publication.

The information on this site is generalized and is not medical advice. It is intended to supplement, not substitute for, the expertise and judgment of your healthcare professional. Always seek the advice of your healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard seeking advice or delay in seeking treatment because of something you have read on our site. RxSaver makes no warranty as to the accuracy, reliability or completeness of this information.

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