ADHD Medication And Weight Management

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ADHD Medication And Weight Management - My Concierge MD

Jane, a 35-year-old working professional, noticed that her jeans were fitting a bit tighter after she started her ADHD medication. Does the story ring a bell? Does it sound familiar?

Well, her story isn’t unique; many are worried about the link between ADHD meds and weight changes. In the United States alone, approximately 4.4% of adults live with ADHD, with many relying on medication for focus and stability.

But can ADHD medication cause weight gain in adults?

Well, let’s find out.

Can Adhd Medication Cause Weight Gain In Adults?

ADHD medications may cause weight gain in adults, but the reasons aren’t entirely clear. These medications might make you feel hungrier and less active, which can lead to gaining weight. For example, drugs like methylphenidate and atomoxetine are known to have this effect more than others.

ADHD meds, especially stimulants like Ritalin (methylphenidate) and Adderall (amphetamine/dextroamphetamine), usually make you less hungry, burn calories, and be more energetic, which might help you lose weight.

But, when the effect of the medicine wears off, the craving may return. You might feel starving and eat more than usual often in the evening. Consequently, it can lead to weight gain.

Everyone reacts differently to medication. Talk to your doctor if you’re worried about side effects. They can help you balance the benefits and risks.

How ADHD Medication Affects Weight Gain In Adults: Other Possible Reasons

Besides the wear-off effects of ADHD meds, several other reasons may affect your weight.

Fluctuating Medication Impacts

Stimulant medications can initially reduce hunger and increase energy to help develop healthy habits. You may start exercising regularly, eat better, and sleep well. However, as your body adjusts to the medication, this boost may lessen, making it harder to maintain these habits.

People often take breaks from medication on their doctor’s advice. It can disrupt exercise routines, sleep schedules, and healthy eating habits. Hence, it can lead to weight gain.

Blood Sugar Instability

Research indicates that ADHD medications, particularly stimulants like methylphenidate and amphetamine-based drugs, may affect blood sugar control and insulin sensitivity in some individuals. It could lead to changes in blood sugar levels, potentially causing food cravings and weight gain.

However, the exact reasons behind this relationship and how these medications impact blood sugar are not fully understood.

Shifting Body Composition

Research indicates that ADHD medications may redistribute fat storage over time, increasing abdominal adiposity. It may lead to an unhealthy form of weight gain.

The study shows that children with ADHD who take stimulants gain weight slowly at first. But as they get older, especially in their teen years, they tend to gain weight quickly and end up weighing more than kids who don’t have ADHD or don’t take these medicines. It can potentially lead to more weight gain into adulthood.

Which Adhd Medication Causes Weight Gain?

ADHD medications include two types: stimulants and non-stimulants. They increase certain brain chemicals to help with ADHD symptoms, like better focus, less hyperactivity, and improved control over impulsive actions.

These medications have a distinct effect on you, while some may cause weight gain.

Stimulant Medication

Stimulant ADHD meds that may cause weight gain include-

    • Vyvanse (lisdexamfetamine): prolonged use may lead to more belly fat due to increased cortisol levels
    • Adderall XR (amphetamine): After wearing off, extended-release Adderall may lead to increased hunger and cravings for high-calorie foods, potentially causing weight gain.
  • Ritalin (methylphenidate): It usually causes weight loss, but it may lead to weight gain by rebounding effect after wearing off.

Non-Stimulant Medication

Doctors often prescribe non-stimulant medication to manage ADHD, which may cause weight gain.

  • Strattera (atomoxetine): Strattera can initially increase appetite and caloric intake when starting treatment. However, according to studies, this effect levels out for most people over time.
  • Antidepressants: Antidepressants used for ADHD, like tricyclics and MAOIs, can lead to weight gain due to metabolic changes.

Let’s look at the potential impact of antidepressants used for ADHD on body weight, considering both short-term and long-term use.

Antidepressant Drug Effect on Body Weight
Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (Irreversible type) Likely weight gain in the short term (< 6 months) and long term (≥ 1 year)
Tricyclic Compounds Likely weight gain in the short-term and long-term
Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) (other than Paroxetine) Less likely weight gain in the short term; varied evidence for long-term
Paroxetine More likely to cause weight gain in both short and long term compared to other SSRIs
Nefazodone Likely no effect on weight
Bupropion Likely to cause weight loss

Managing Weight Gain Caused By Adhd Medication

You can take several measures to manage your weight while taking ADHD meds.

Be Consistent With Dosing

  • Consistency in Medication: Stick to the prescribed medication schedule to avoid fluctuations in medication levels that can affect appetite and metabolism.
  • Monitor Side Effects: Monitor your medication’s effects on your appetite and energy. Discuss significant weight changes with your healthcare provider.
  • Regular Check-ups: Don’t skip medical check-ups while on medication.

Healthy Meal Planning

  • Balanced Diet: Balance your diet with whole grains, lean proteins, fruits, and vegetables. Avoid processed and high-calorie snacks.
  • Meal Timing: Eat regularly to manage hunger and avoid binge eating.
  • Plan Meals: Prepare and plan meals to avoid impulsive eating or reliance on fast food.

Avoid Overeating

  • Identify Triggers: Identify triggers for overeating, such as stress, specific times, or medication effects.
  • Mindful Eating Practices: Eat slowly, savor your food, and listen to your body’s hunger cues.
  • Healthy Snacks: Keep nutritious snacks handy when you feel starving.

Incorporate Exercise

  • Regular Exercise: Incorporate at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise into your daily routine. Find activities you enjoy, such as walking, cycling, swimming, or yoga.
  • Stay Active Throughout the Day: Small changes, like taking the stairs or walking during breaks, can increase your overall activity level.
  • Exercise for Mental Health: Regular physical activity can help manage ADHD symptoms and improve mood.

Lifestyle Modifications

  • Adequate Sleep: Ensure you are getting enough restful sleep. Lack of sleep can affect metabolism and appetite regulation.
  • Stress Management: Reduce stress through meditation, deep breathing, and hobbies, as it can affect your eating habits and weight.
  • Hydration: Stay hydrated. Thirst can be mistaken for hunger.

Seek Professional Guidance

  • Consult a Dietitian: Consider getting personalized diet and weight management advice from a dietitian if you’re struggling.
  • Therapy for Emotional Eating: Therapy can help if your eating habits are affected by emotions.
  • Join Support Groups: Sharing experiences and advice with others facing similar challenges can be encouraging and informative.

What Are The Side Effects Of Adhd Medication In Adults?

What Are The Side Effects Of Adhd Medication In Adults - My Concierge MDHere are the other potential side effects of ADHD medication in adults.

  • Reduced Appetite
  • Weight Loss
  • Trouble Sleeping
  • Headaches
  • Stomach Aches
  • Feeling Aggressive
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Anxiety or Tension
  • Small Increase in Blood Pressure and Heart Rate
  • Rebound Weight Gain after Discontinuation
  • Heart Disease (Long-term use)
  • High Blood Pressure (Long-term use)
  • Seizures (Long-term use)
  • Irregular Heartbeat (Long-term use)
  • Potential for Abuse and Addiction (Long-term use)
  • Skin Discolorations (Long-term use)

What Age Should You Stop Taking Adhd Medicine?

A healthcare professional should always decide to stop taking ADHD medication.

Studies show that kids and teens often stop their ADHD medication around the age of 13. But first, consider medication necessity, symptom severity, and pros/cons of discontinuation.

For kids under 6, doctors usually start with behavior therapy first, then consider medication if necessary. You must carefully evaluate symptom severity and medication effectiveness in older kids and teens.

Adults might consider stopping ADHD medication under the guidance of a healthcare professional for several reasons-

  • Problematic side effects like insomnia, anxiety, loss of appetite, high blood pressure, or thoughts of self-harm.
  • Alternative treatments include talk therapy, cognitive training, biofeedback, organizational coaching, and lifestyle changes.
  • Pregnancy or planning for pregnancy
  • Developing health conditions like heart problems, glaucoma, etc.

What Is The Best Adhd Medication For Adults?

The decision on which medication to use should be made in consultation with a healthcare professional, considering individual health and possible side effects. However, some commonly prescribed ADHD medicines for adults are-

Stimulant Medications-

  • Adderall: Dextroamphetamine, amphetamine
  • Concerta: Methylphenidate
  • Dexedrine: Amphetamine
  • Evekeo: Amphetamine
  • Focalin XR: Dexmethylphenidate
  • Quillivant XR: Methylphenidate
  • Ritalin: Methylphenidate
  • Vyvanse: Lisdexamfetamine dimesylate
  • Azstarys: Serdexmethylphenidate and dexmethylphenidate

Non-Stimulant Medications-

  • Atomoxetine (Strattera)
  • Guanfacine (Intuniv)
  • Clonidine (Kapvay)
  • Bupropion (Wellbutrin)

Bottom Line

Can ADHD medication cause weight gain in adults? ADHD medication may cause weight gain due to the rebounding effect of stimulant medications after wearing off. However, they mainly cause weight loss. Besides, certain non-stimulant medicines may cause weight gain due to metabolic changes.

However, the link between ADHD medicines and weight gain in adults needs more research and evaluation.

For personalized fitness while managing ADHD or weight issues on ADHD meds, contact My Concierge MD in Beverly Hills.

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