If you have bipolar disorder you may experience weight gain due to medication or other metabolic factors. If you’re concerned, here’s what to know.

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Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition where folks experience fluctuations in mood significant enough that medication can be helpful, in addition to therapy.

If you’re taking a prescription for bipolar disorder, you may have experienced weight gain.

Weight gain is a side-effect of many prescribed medications for bipolar disorder.

If you or someone you know has bipolar disorder, you can self-educate on medication side effects and other options available. You may consider talking with a healthcare professional about other prescriptions less associated with weight gain.

Other reasons for weight gain

There are other reasons outside of medication for bipolar disorder that might cause you to gain weight.

A 2018 research review suggests that mood, treatment, and lifestyle factors may influence weight if you have bipolar disorder.

A series of studies described in a 2019 research article indicates a genetic association between the inflammatory and metabolic biomarkers observed in obesity and in bipolar disorder.

Additionally, there is a link between bipolar disorder and eating disorders, especially binge-eating disorder. It’s estimated that binge-eating disorder occurs in approximately 25% of all folks with bipolar disorder. Many medications used to treat bipolar disorder can increase your appetite.

Various medications can cause you to gain weight.

According to older research, medications prescribed for bipolar disorder that can cause weight gain include:

If prescribed one of these medications, you may consider speaking with a doctor about the side effects and how much weight gain to expect.

Bipolar disorder is associated with a higher risk of metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a group of conditions that can put you at an increased risk for diseases such as:

  • heart attack
  • stroke
  • diabetes
  • heart disease

The conditions that are common with metabolic syndrome include:

  • high blood pressure
  • high cholesterol
  • obesity

These symptoms can be a result of taking antipsychotic medication or can be a result of lifestyle factors such as eating and drinking processed food and lack of exercise.

Research from 2018 indicates that topiramate is one medication sometimes prescribed for bipolar disorder that doesn’t have a side effect of weight gain. One of topiramate’s side effects is actually weight loss.

The researchers suggest that topiramate and metformin are both effective additional medications that can help mitigate the weight gain associated with antipsychotic medications in bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

If you’re concerned about gaining weight, realistic and sustainable changes over time to your activity levels and what you put in your body could be the best approach for you.

Your ability to eat food that’s considered healthy is determined by the food choices available to you, depending on your region and financial situation. Eating whole foods and homecooked meals can help.

Exercising a few times a week can help reduce the possibility of weight gain, while also helping with other symptoms of bipolar disorder.

The first step, though, is speaking to a physician. Some doctors may even refer you to a nutritionist or dietitian.

Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition associated with weight gain due to:

  • meds
  • genetic obesity
  • metabolic syndromes

Weight gain can cause lowered self-esteem and may increase symptoms of depression present in bipolar disorder. If you want some options to help maintain or lose weight, consider speaking with a health care professional for alternative options.

For many people, medications to treat mental health conditions are the cornerstone to holistic treatment. Still, you can reduce the impact of the side effects by asking about other medicines that may be right for your treatment.

Additionally, you can look to be more active and make incremental adjustments to your consumption in ways that work for you.

For more information about managing weight gain associated with psychiatric medications, you can check out this helpful resource: Weight gain related to psychiatric treatments

For resources and support on living with bipolar disorder you can bookmark our bipolar disorder hub.