Does Gabapentin cause weight gain? Learn more about the side effects.

Gabapentin is a prescription drug that is used to treat various medical conditions such as seizures, restless legs syndrome, and…(continue reading)

Gabapentin is a prescription drug that is used to treat various medical conditions such as seizures, restless legs syndrome, and nerve pain and it belongs to a class of anticonvulsant medication.

Gabapentin works by decreasing the number of seizures you have, relieving pain, and improving your sleep among several other benefits.

If you take gabapentin you also may experience weight gain as a side effect.

In this article, we will discuss how gabapentin causes weight gain, how to stop it, and other potential risks associated with taking this medication.

What is gabapentin?

Gabapentin is a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved medication that is used to treat various conditions.

The medication is also available as a generic drug and as the brand-name drugs Neurontin and Gralise. It is an anticonvulsant and works by stabilizing electrical activity in the brain.

Frequently, it is used on neuropathic pain, which is pain that originates from damaged nerves.

Neuropathic pain can be caused by diabetes, shingles, spinal cord injury, and fibromyalgia.

It is most commonly used to treat the following:

  • Seizures, although it has not been found to help treat generalized epileptic seizures but can treat focal epileptic seizures
  • Anxiety
  • Neuropathic pain which is also called nerve pain
  • Sleep disorders
  • Drug dependency
  • Different forms of nystagmus which are involuntary movements of your eyes
  • Hot flashes
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS), specifically spasms caused by it
  • Tremors
  • Itching caused by kidney failure
gabapentin pills
Gabapentin Dosing for Neuropathy

How does gabapentin work?

Gabapentin works by binding to voltage-gated calcium channels which are found in the central nervous system.

Due to this action, it then reduces the release of neurotransmitters like glutamate, noradrenaline, and substance P.

All of these neurotransmitters are involved in the nerve activity of pain transmission. By reducing their release, gabapentin is able to help reduce pain.

What are the common side effects and risks of taking gabapentin?

The most common side effect of gabapentin is dizziness. Other common mild side effects of gabapentin include:

Weight gain is not a common side effect of gabapentin although it can happen. In fact, only about 2% of people who take the medication experienced weight gain.

The exact mechanism of how gabapentin causes weight gain is unknown. However, it is believed that the medication may increase appetite or cause fluid retention.

As with many drugs, there are also some more serious risks and adverse effects involved with taking gabapentin. These severe side effects include:

Anaphylaxis

Anaphylaxis is a rare but potentially life-threatening allergic reaction. Symptoms include difficulty breathing, hives, and swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Angioedema

Angioedema is a condition that causes swelling under the skin. It can occur in any area of the body but is most common in the face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Symptoms include swelling of the affected area and difficulty breathing.

Respiratory depression

Respiratory depression is a potentially life-threatening condition that occurs when breathing becomes shallow and slow.

Symptoms include drowsiness, fatigue, and shortness of breath.

Hypersensitivity reactions

Hypersensitivity reactions are rare but can occur if you are allergic to gabapentin. Symptoms include skin rash, hives, and difficulty breathing.

Suicidal ideation

Suicidal ideation is a rare but serious side effect of gabapentin and involves thinking about or planning suicide.

If you experience these symptoms, you need to seek medical attention immediately. When you stop taking gabapentin it can also cause withdrawal symptoms that include agitation, disorientation, and confusion as well as other symptoms. These symptoms typically last only a day or two.

Gabapentin may also have drug interactions with other medications that you are taking. Therefore, it is important to talk to your doctor or health care provider about all the medications that you are taking, even if they are over-the-counter medications.

How does gabapentin cause you to gain weight?

The exact mechanism of how gabapentin causes weight gain is unknown.

However, it is believed that the medication may increase appetite or cause fluid retention. It can also possibly decrease your motivation to exercise.

Gabapentin may also cause your metabolism to slow which can lead to weight gain.

Finally, some medications are also known to increase fat storage which would also lead to weight gain.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mrxQBOtXqHU

How can you tell if it is gabapentin causing weight gain?

If you are taking gabapentin and notice that you are gaining weight, the first thing you need to do is talk to your doctor or health care provider.

They will be able to determine if the weight gain is due to the medication or other factors.

If you haven’t switched your diet, lessened your physical activity, or had increased stress recently then it is most likely your medication is causing your weight gain.

How do I stop or reverse weight gain while taking gabapentin?

If you are concerned about weight gain while taking gabapentin, there are a few things that you can do. First, talk to your doctor or health care provider about your concerns.

They may be able to switch you to a different medication that does not cause weight gain.

If that is not an option, they may be able to adjust the dose of your medication. Finally, they may also recommend some lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise that can help you lose weight.

Can other medications cause weight gain?

Yes, there are many other medications that can cause weight gain. Some of these include antidepressants, antipsychotics, corticosteroids, insulin, and birth control pills.

If you are concerned about your body weight and weight gain from your medication, talk to your doctor or health care provider as they may be able to switch you to a different medication.

Can anyone take gabapentin?

Gabapentin is not for everyone. Do not take gabapentin if you are allergic to it, have a history of suicide attempts or suicidal ideation, or have a history of drug abuse.

Also, do not take gabapentin if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Before taking gabapentin, you need to also talk to your doctor or health care provider about your medical history.

Summary

Gabapentin is a medication that is used to treat various conditions such as seizures, nerve pain, and hot flashes. It is also sometimes used off-label for anxiety and insomnia.

Gabapentin is typically well-tolerated but it can cause some side effects such as drowsiness, dizziness, and nausea. One side effect of taking it is weight gain.

The mechanism of how gabapentin causes weight gain is unknown but it is believed to increase appetite, cause fluid retention, or slow metabolism among other possible causes. In some cases, you also may be able to combat weight gain with lifestyle changes such as eating healthy and getting exercise.

If you are concerned about weight gain from your medication or have any other questions, talk to your doctor or health care provider.

References and sources:

FDA

GoodRx Health

Mayo Clinic 

Drugs.com

Fact Checked and Editorial Process

Diabetic.org is devoted to producing expert and accurate articles and information for our readers by hiring experts, journalists, medical professionals, and our growing Diabetic.org community. We encourage you to read more about our content, editing, and fact checking methods here. This was fact checked by Jacqueline Hensler and medically reviewed by Dr. Angel Rivera. 

fact checked and medically reviewed

Top Destinations

Recent Articles

Stay in Touch

Share On

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Related Posts

Diabetic Shoes: The 5 Best Options on the Market

Chris Riley

Chris Riley

In this article, we will discuss the 5 best diabetic shoes on the market today. We will also talk about

The Diabetic’s Guide to Open-Toe Shoes: Finding the Right Footwear to Prevent Foot Problems

Chris Riley

Chris Riley

In this article, we will discuss the advantages of open-toe shoes for diabetics and provide a guide on how to

Does Wearing Gloves Help Treat Peripheral Neuropathy?

Chris Riley

Chris Riley

In this article, we will discuss what neuropathy is, what causes it, and some of the best gloves for treating

Join Our Newsletter

Get exclusive offers, advice, and tips from Diabetic.org delivered to your inbox.