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Prescription Meds Can Put on Unwanted Pounds
Date:3/2/2012

By Lisa Esposito
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, March 2 (HealthDay News) -- Medications taken by millions of Americans for mood disorders, high blood pressure, diabetes and other chronic conditions can have an unhealthy side effect: weight gain.

While other choices exist for some types of drugs, adjusting medications is not simply a matter of switching, said Ryan Roux, chief pharmacy officer with the Harris County Hospital District, in Houston.

In the late 1990s, Dr. Lawrence Cheskin conducted early research on prescription medicines and obesity.

"Some medicines make an early, noticeable difference, causing patients to become ravenously hungry, while changes are subtle for others. A few months taking them and you've gained 10 pounds," said Cheskin, now director of the Johns Hopkins Weight Management Center, in Baltimore.

To help increase awareness, Roux and his pharmacist group have compiled a list of "weight-promoting" and "weight-neutral or weight-loss" drugs.

Antidepressants that promote weight gain include Paxil (paroxetine), Zoloft (sertraline), amitriptyline (Elavil) and Remeron (mirtazapine).

Wellbutrin (bupropion) and Prozac (fluoxetine) are considered weight-neutral or weight-loss drugs.

"Generally, older antidepressants are typically more prone to cause weight gain than the newer SSRIs [selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors]," Cheskin said.

Mood-disorder drugs that can add weight include the antipsychotics Clozaril (clozapine), Zyprexa (olanzapine), Risperdal (risperidone) and Seroquel (quetiapine). Lithium, valproic acid (Depakote) and carbamazepine (Tegretol) can also put on the pounds.

Drugs with hormonal effects, such as antipsychotics and steroids, are among the biggest culprits in weight gain, Cheskin said. "They work on the brain, and appetite control is largely a brain function. They make you more hungry," he said.

Both experts agreed
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