Xanax and Weight Gain

by on May 23, 2012

Until recently, many pharmacists and physicians thought that the correlation between Xanax and weight gain was purely coincidental. However, recent studies have shown that people who are taking the medication are more likely to gain weight than those who are not.

Why Weight Gain Occurs

Before any medication can be released for sale to the public by prescription, it must first undergo rigorous clinical trials and studies. This way, government agencies can accurately document the side effects associated with the medication and make them known to patients. Studies about Xanax and weight gain have shown that patients who take higher doses of the medication for panic attacks are at an increased risk for weight gain—27.2% of the patients taking the medication gained weight as opposed to a mere 17.9% of those who did not take Xanax. Those who used it occasionally for mild anxiety disorders experienced the same rate of gain as those who did not at 2.7%.

Though the reasons why patients who use Xanax are at greater risk for weight gain are still relatively unknown, it is thought that patients put on weight due to the medication’s sedating effects.

Those individuals who only use the medication occasionally showed the same risk factors as those who did not use it at all, while patients who use Xanax regularly steadily gained weight in the absence of dietary changes. Xanax is a sedative and inhibits patients’ desires to exercise; it is also thought that the effects of the drug may lead to increased appetite and a slower overall metabolism. Patients who are concerned with this increase in weight should discuss it with their physicians prior to treatment.

Combating Weight Gain

When an individual begins treatment with Xanax, there are precautions that can be taken in order to avoid gaining weight.

First, patients should take the lowest dose of the medication that is effective for the shortest amount of time possible.

Those patients who will need treatment for a long period of time or who are required to take higher doses should consider changing their diets to suit. These diets should include large amounts of green leafy vegetables, healthy fruits, plenty of grains and low-fat or fat-free dairy products. Since beef and some cuts of pork contain high concentrations of fats, these should be replaced with chicken, fish and leaner cuts of meat.

Talk to your doctor about Alternatives

In the clinical trials, some patients experienced a significant amount of weight gain for varying reasons. Those who had a genetic predisposition to obesity or those with other medical conditions are at higher risk than those who are not. People who are already at risk for obesity may want to consider treatment with a different benzodiazepine, including Klonopin or even Valium. These medications are longer-lasting and therefore do not cause as much sedation as Xanax, and many scientists also believe that their impact on the appetite is less significant.

Like many other medications on the market today, there is an undoubted link between Xanax and weight gain. By understanding why it occurs and how to prevent it, patients are able to live happier and healthier lives.