As more Americans continue to become overweight, most women searching for a pill that can change their body size want to lose pounds, not gain them. But numerous medical conditions exist in which it is advisable for affected women to gain weight, and fortunately the drugs used to treat these conditions often have weight gain as a side effect--one that's usually unwanted, but in these cases is a bonus. Healthy women looking to gain muscle mass are advised by nutritionists to steer clear of over-the-counter pills and focus instead on healthful diets and protein powders.
Not all medications that help women gain weight exert their sole or primary effects on human metabolic processes themselves. Some have an indirect effect in treating an underlying condition that led to undesired or unhealthy weight loss in the worst place. Among these are antidepressants such as those of the SSRI class, including Zoloft, Prozac and Paxil; these drugs can help women with anorexia nervosa gain weight because anxiety and depression are typically underlying features of this dangerous disease.
Antipsychotics and Mood Stabilizers
Many drugs used to treat severe mood disorders, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, lead to marked weight gain in some women. Lithium, long used to treat BPD, results in some degree of weight gain in some two-thirds of patients. Depakote and other drugs in the combined antipsychotic-anticonvulsant class stimulate appetite by increasing appetite, whereas various drugs used in the treatment of schizophrenia -- in particular newer medications such as Clozaril, Zyprexa and Risperdal -- typically result in some degree of added body mass.
People with Type II diabetes are not typically underweight, but many can be especially women. Unlike Type I diabetics, they don't need to take insulin shots and instead can take oral medications, such as Glucotrol and Micronase, aimed at increasing insulin secretion by the pancreas. Insulin -- dubbed the "anti-exercise hormone" -- stimulates the appetite and promotes the storage of carbohydrates, proteins and fats, helping those who need to gain weight get closer to their optimal healthy size.
Corticosteroids, used in the short- and long-term treatment of obstructive lung disease and as anti-inflammatories in various other conditions, can produce a pronounced and rapid weight gain; for example, half of patients taking Prednisone for a year can expect to put on close to 30 lbs. The weight gain is a result of several factors; fluid retention and increased appetite are the main ones, but corticosteroids can also cause a redistribution of body fat to places such as the back and neck, which women may wish to avoid.