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Is There a Connection between Aripiprazole and Weight Gain?

By Jennifer Sobek
Updated May 17, 2024
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Aripiprazole is an antipsychotic and antidepressant drug that is used to treat mental conditions such as schizophrenia, depression and bipolar disorder. There is a connection between aripiprazole and weight gain because a slight gain in weight is a normal side effect of this medication. If there is a sudden gain in the weight of a person who is taking aripiprazole, however, it could lead to other health problems, such as diabetes.

Studies have shown that people taking aripiprazole were more likely to gain weight than those who took a placebo. Though a small increase in weight is normal while taking this drug, some people who have gained a significant amount of weight while on the drug. This significant increase in weight will put the person at risk for developing diabetes.

Although there is a connection between aripiprazole and weight gain, there are things that one can do to combat the weight gain. For example, a person can eat a healthier diet, including more fruits and vegetables as well as fat-free or low-fat milk products and limiting foods that contain saturated fats. Eating leaner meats, poultry and fish will also help alleviate the possible weight gain. Partaking in regular physical activity and limiting one’s intake of alcohol is another way to combat the weight gain.

The connection between aripiprazole and weight gain is not significant, because studies have shown only a slight increase in weight. People who have major depressive disorder (MDD) and who took aripiprazole and an antidepressant therapy (ADT) showed a low rate of increase. For example, over a six-week period, patients who are taking aripiprazole and an ADT might gain 3-4 pounds (1.36-1.81 kg), compared with about 1 pound (0.45 kg) for people who are taking a placebo and an ADT.

Although there is a connection between aripiprazole and weight gain, there are other side effects as well. Other common side effects of this drug include headache, insomnia, fatigue, dizziness, constipation and stomach pain. A person also might experience heartburn, diarrhea, increased appetite and pain in the arms or legs while taking aripiprazole. Patients should report all side effects to a healthcare professional, especially any severe side effects, such as seizures, chest pain, high fever, confusion or difficulty breathing.

Aripiprazole can be used along with other antidepressants to treat major depression. Additionally, this drug also be used to treat the irritability that accompanies autistic disorder. Aripiprazole works for these disorders by lessening the effects of certain chemicals in the brain. The chemicals serotonin and dopamine, in particular, are known to be higher in people who have schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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