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Does Xanax Cause Weight Gain or Loss?

Xanax (alprazolam) is a medication utilized primarily for the acute management of anxiety disorders – particularly panic disorder.  When administered, Xanax crosses the blood-brain-barrier and modulates the activation of GABAA receptor alpha-1 subunits.  This GABAergic modulation hyperpolarizes neurons via chloride ion influx and induces negative membrane potentials.

The induction of negative membrane potentials makes neurons less likely to fire or secrete neurotransmitters throughout the brain.  Essentially, reduced neuronal activation from the action of Xanax decreases activity within the CNS (central nervous system) and yields effects like: psychological relaxation, slowed thought speed, myorelaxation, cognitive impairment, and/or drowsiness.

Furthermore, because Xanax is a rapid-acting medication, many consider Xanax to be one of the most effective treatments for unexpected panic.  Although many individuals find Xanax to be highly effective in managing anxiety disorders, some prospective users may be concerned about the potential side effect of weight change.

Xanax (Alprazolam) & Weight Gain vs. Weight Loss (Potential Causes)

Data from randomized controlled trials indicate that Xanax is unlikely to cause clinically significant weight gain (characterized as 7% body weight increase from baseline).  However, results of multiple 8-week randomized controlled trials indicate that ongoing Xanax administration (at moderate doses) may cause modest weight loss in a subset of recipients.

Understand that although clinical trials report average incidence rates of side effects (e.g. weight change), your experience might be inconsistent with the research.  In other words, there’s a chance that you could be an “outlier” or abnormal responder such that you end up gaining or losing significantly more weight than other Xanax users.

Possible reasons someone might experience weight change while taking Xanax include: appetite change; body composition change; energy level fluctuation; and/or shift in metabolic rate.  Moreover, it’s necessary to underscore that the underlying cause(s) of weight change among Xanax users could be subject to significant interindividual variation; what causes weight change for one user – might not explain the weight change of another.

  • Appetite change: Several studies suggest that Xanax can cause appetite change as a side effect. A study by O’Sullivan et al. (1994) published in the British Medical Journal reported appetite loss as a result of Xanax treatment.  A study by Noyes et al. (1988) reported increased appetite as a side effect of Xanax, however in this study, appetite increase was [counterintuitively] accompanied by weight loss.  Other studies by Evans et al. (1999) and Haney et al. (1997) reported increased appetite from Xanax.  If you experience a significant appetite increase or decrease while using Xanax – realize this might lead to weight gain or weight loss, respectively.
  • Anxiety symptoms: If you’ve been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, the neurophysiology associated with your specific anxiety disorder may have affected your weight – causing you to become overweight or underweight. Some people claim that their anxiety suppresses appetite and causes fidgeting, whereas others may find that their anxiety increases appetite – and makes it difficult to stop eating.  Assuming an untreated anxiety disorder was affecting your dietary habits, movement, and/or metabolism – then treating the anxiety disorder with Xanax might help your body recalibrate to a healthy weight (from being underweight or overweight) – possibly accounting for weight gain or loss during treatment.
  • Cognitive impairment: A common side effect of Xanax administration, especially over the long-term, is cognitive impairment. If your cognition becomes impaired from using Xanax, it’s possible that this impairment might alter your ability to self-regulate (or exercise self-discipline) around food to prevent overeating.  Cognitive impairment might also interfere with one’s ability to plan healthy meals, which could lead to weight gain.  On the other hand, if aspects of memory become impaired, memory deficits might lead some individuals to forget meals, possibly yielding weight loss.
  • Fatigue, lethargy, drowsiness: Xanax is known to inhibit excitatory neurotransmission within the brain and decrease activation of the CNS (central nervous system). As a result, most Xanax users will experience physical and mental relaxation – accompanied by fatigue, lethargy, and drowsiness.  If you experience even a modest amount of fatigue during treatment, this fatigue might result in lower physical activity (compared to pre-treatment), which could cause weight gain.
  • Food cravings: One reason Xanax might cause weight gain in certain users is due to the induction of food cravings. A study involving women with premenstrual syndrome discovered that acute administration of Xanax (0.75 mg) caused food cravings – specifically for fatty foods, which led to increased caloric intake.  Although food cravings haven’t been reported in non-PMS women or men – it’s possible that Xanax might induce cravings via modulation of activity in certain brain regions like the hypothalamus and ventral tegmental area.
  • Gastrointestinal reactions: Research suggests that Xanax treatment may cause gastrointestinal side effects in a significant percentage of users. For example, in clinical trials among patients with panic disorder, common gastrointestinal reactions to Xanax included: constipation, diarrhea, and bloating.  If you experience constipation and/or edema from Xanax, it’s possible that these reactions may account for weight gain (due to the fact that your body is carrying more undigested food, and retaining more water weight, than usual).  Oppositely, the reaction of diarrhea may cause weight loss due to poorer food absorption, energy storage, and water loss.
  • Hormone changes: Xanax might cause weight change by altering hormone concentrations throughout the body. Research suggests that Xanax can alter: cortisol, glucocorticoid, and triiodothyronine (T3) levels within the body.  Moreover, some speculate that Xanax might modulate other hormones like: leptin, ghrelin, neuropeptide Y, luteinizing hormone, testosterone, and estrogen.  If Xanax substantially alters hormone concentrations, the alterations could affect appetite, resting metabolic rate, muscle synthesis, and fat storage – possibly accounting for significant weight change among users.
  • Metabolism shifting: While under the influence of Xanax, a person’s resting metabolic rate may significantly shift from its pre-Xanax baseline. If Xanax significantly modifies your levels of hormones and/or causes you to become less physically active (due to drowsiness or fatigue), this may slow your resting metabolic rate.  A slowing of your resting metabolic rate indicates that your body will burn fewer calories at rest – which could yield weight gain.  Conversely, if your resting metabolic rate somehow speeds up while taking Xanax, this could yield weight loss.
  • Muscle loss: Some researchers believe that Xanax may cause modest weight loss through muscle catabolism. More specifically, it has been suggested that the myorelaxant effect of Xanax leads to less muscular work or output in many individuals, and this reduction in muscle work might cause loss of lean mass over a span of months – possibly accounting for weight loss.  If you’re losing weight on Xanax, realize that the weight loss may be more attributable to muscle loss – rather than fat loss (not something that most people want).
  • Nausea & vomiting: In trials of Xanax among patients with panic disorder, nausea and vomiting occurred as side effects in up to 22% of patients. If you become extremely nauseous and/or experience frequent vomiting while using Xanax, these side effects could interfere with your appetite – and ultimately decrease your caloric intake, possibly causing weight loss.  Moreover, frequent vomiting may interfere with food absorption and dehydrate the body to account for weight loss.
  • Social eating: If you had extremely high anxiety prior to using Xanax, but now your anxiety is under control from Xanax treatment, there’s a chance that you might become more sociable – or engage in more social activities (than you did with unmanaged anxiety). Because a very popular social activity is “going out to eat” at restaurants, some Xanax users might end up dining out more often (than they did before treatment).  Considering that dining out is associated with consumption of large portion sizes and calorie-dense foods – this behavior might account for weight gain in a subset of Xanax users.
  • Taste alterations: Anecdotal reports online indicate that some individuals experience altered taste perception while under the influence of Xanax. For a subset of these persons, taste is enhanced and food is perceived as more pleasurable or rewarding as a result of Xanax.  For others, food might taste worse than usual.  Moreover, it has been stated that if Xanax is chewed (instead of swallowed) – this may leave a bitter or unpleasant aftertaste in the mouth, possibly leading to appetite suppression.  If you find that Xanax alters your perception of taste, this could affect your caloric intake – possibly leading to substantial weight change during treatment.

Note: There may be other reasons (in addition to those listed above) as to why Xanax provokes weight change in certain users.  If you know of any additional explanations for Xanax-mediated weight change, share these explanations in the comments section below.

Xanax (Alprazolam) & Weight Change (The Research)

Documented below are summaries of trials in which the effect of Xanax on body weight was reported or mentioned.  In the medical literature, there were very few reports suggesting that Xanax treatment alters body weight as a side effect.  Nevertheless, two small-scale studies suggest that acute Xanax administration may increase caloric intake among women with PMS – and healthy males.

If acute Xanax administration increases caloric intake, there’s reason to believe that this could yield significant weight gain in a subset of users.  However, multiple 8-week trials of Xanax for the treatment of anxiety disorders suggest that Xanax might cause clinically-relevant weight loss, regardless of whether appetite increases or decreases.

1999: Food “cravings” and the acute effects of alprazolam on food intake in women with premenstrual dysphoric disorder.

Evans, Foltin, and Fischman reported that women experiencing PMS (premenstrual syndrome) frequently exhibit increased food cravings and total caloric intakes – compared to women who aren’t experiencing PMS.  Because alprazolam is a medication that is sometimes utilized to manage symptoms of PMS, researchers conducted a study to determine whether use of alprazolam in women with PMS would alter their food intake.

A total of 19 women with PMS were recruited for the study, each of whom received 0 mg, 0.25 mg, 0.5 mg, or 0.75 mg of alprazolam – once during the premenstrual phase and again during the postmenstrual phase.  Prior to alprazolam administration, participants were given a Food Desirability Questionnaire to complete.  Thereafter, participants received a selected lunch 3.5 hours after alprazolam administration.

Researchers reported that premenstrual syndrome significantly increased desire for fatty foods compared to the postmenstrual phase; desire for other macronutrients was unaffected by menstrual phase.  Furthermore, alprazolam administration substantially increased food intake (specifically of fats) in premenstrual syndrome compared to the postmenstrual phase.

Individuals characterized as “restrained eaters” consumed 26% more calories while taking alprazolam (0.75 mg) during premenstrual syndrome – compared to taking a placebo.  Individuals characterized as “unrestrained eaters” consumed 9% more calories while taking alprazolam (0.75 mg) during premenstrual syndrome – compared to taking a placebo.

It was concluded that women may end up consuming significantly more calories as a result of alprazolam administration during PMS.  Furthermore, women who normally implement self-discipline or self-restraint around food seem to increase caloric intakes the most as a result of alprazolam during PMS.

1997: Alprazolam increases food intake in humans.

Haney, Comer, Fischman, and Foltin conducted a study examining the effect of alprazolam on food intake in 7 male participants over a 17-day span.  It was noted that a wide variety of meals, snacks, and beverages were given to the participants.  Researchers compared the food intake of participants on days when alprazolam (0.75 mg) with the food intake on days when a placebo was administered.

Results indicated that alprazolam led to increased total caloric intake by ~975 kcal from a baseline of 2800 kcal.  Additionally, alprazolam treatment increased the number of feeding sessions in the evening between 5:00 PM and 11:30 PM. – without affecting meal size or macronutrient preferences.  Considering the results, researchers concluded that alprazolam appears to significantly increase food intake in humans.

1994: Safety and side-effects of alprazolam. Controlled study in agoraphobia with panic disorder.

O’Sullivan, Noshirvani, Başoğlu, et al. conducted a randomized controlled trial of alprazolam in 154 patients diagnosed with panic disorder plus agoraphobia.  The researchers measured the effectiveness of alprazolam and the placebo, and documented side effects associated with each.  It was noted that treatment occurred for an 8-week duration which was followed by an 8-week tapering phase.

The average dose of alprazolam administered in the study was 5 mg per day.  When compared with placebo recipients, persons who received alprazolam experienced significantly more side effects – one of which was weight loss (accompanied by decreased appetite).  Researchers noted that weight loss correlated with the dose of alprazolam administered such that, the greater the dose administered, the greater the weight loss.

Additionally, while some side effects diminished throughout treatment, most remained significant at week 8.  Overall, this study supports the idea that Xanax may cause clinically-relevant weight loss in a subset of users – possibly mediated by appetite suppression.

1988: Alprazolam in panic disorder and agoraphobia: results from a multicenter trial. II. Patient acceptance, side effects, and safety.

Noyes, DuPont, Pecknold, et al. conducted a multicenter placebo-controlled trial to determine the efficacy and tolerability of alprazolam in the treatment of panic disorder and agoraphobia.  A total of 525 patients diagnosed with agoraphobia plus panic attacks (in accordance with DSM criteria) were recruited for participation – and randomly assigned to receive alprazolam or a placebo for 8 weeks.

It was noted that, at the end of the study, the average daily doses administered were 5.7 mg alprazolam and 7.5 placebo capsules – for each group, respectively.  One of the side effects reported by researchers throughout the trial was weight loss.  What’s interesting is that increased appetite was also reported as a relatively common side effect – along with fatigue, ataxia, amnesia, constipation, and incontinence.

1980: Benzodiazepines cause small loss of body weight.

The earliest publication suggesting that benzodiazepines like Xanax might cause a small loss of body weight was published in the BMJ (British Medical Journal).  Researchers Oswald and Adam examined data from a study in which the side effects of benzodiazepines were not influenced by confounding neuropsychiatric symptoms (e.g. anxiety) and seasonal factors.

A total of 97 healthy adult volunteers between the ages of 40 and 68 were selected to receive benzodiazepines for the management of poor sleep – for a 32-week duration.  For the first 4 weeks of the trial, all adults received a placebo.  Next, 25 participants (19 women, 6 men) continued receiving the placebo, 25 participants (18 women, 7 men) received 5 mg nitrazepam nightly, and 47 participants (29 women, 18 men) received 2 mg lormetazepam nightly.

All participants were weighed prior to the trial – and again after receiving the placebo, nitrazepam, or lormetazepam.  Weight loss was reported as: ~0.02 kg for placebo recipients; ~1.08 kg (2.38 lbs.) for nitrazepam recipients; and ~1.68 kg (3.7 lbs.) for lormetazepam recipients.  Results indicated that weight loss was significantly greater among benzodiazepine recipients compared to placebo recipients.

Although this trial did not examine the effects of Xanax (alprazolam), it’s reasonable to hypothesize that it would’ve exerted a similar effect on body weight as similar-acting benzodiazepine medications nitrazepam and lormetazepam.  Authors concluded that using clinical doses of benzodiazepines over a 5-month span does not appear to cause weight gain – but could cause small weight loss.

Does Xanax cause weight gain or weight loss? (Evaluating the research)

Based on the available research, it’s difficult to elucidate the specific effect of Xanax on body weight.  One study by Evans et al. (1999) reported that acute Xanax administration significantly increased caloric intakes up to 26% among women with PMS.  Although this was a short-term, small-scale trial, it’s fair to infer (based on the results) that Xanax might cause weight gain in women experiencing premenstrual syndrome (PMS).

Another study by Haney et al. (1997) noted that acute Xanax administration increased daily caloric intake by ~975 kcal in 17 healthy males compared to a placebo.  While this was a short-term trial limited to male participants, it’s reasonable to expect (based on the results) that Xanax treatment might lead to weight gain.

  • Acute & low-dose Xanax: Weight gain. Multiple studies suggest that acute Xanax administration at low doses (0.75 mg) significantly increases caloric intakes of: women with PMS and healthy males. In women with PMS, caloric intakes increased by 9% to 26% and were most significant among women characterized as “restrained eaters” (women who typically restrain themselves around food).  In healthy males, caloric intakes increased by ~975 kcal per day while using Xanax.
  • Longer-term & high-dose Xanax: Weight loss. Two randomized controlled trials suggest that Xanax is likely to induce modest weight loss when used daily for a longer-term (8-weeks) at clinically-relevant doses (5-6 mg). In one of the studies, weight loss was associated with appetite loss, whereas in the other, weight loss occurred despite increased appetite.

Research by O’Sullivan et al. (1994) documented that daily Xanax (~5 mg) administration for 8 weeks led to modest weight loss among persons with anxiety disorders.  Another study by Noyes et al. (1988) reported that daily Xanax (~5.7 mg) administration for 8 weeks induced modest weight loss in persons with anxiety disorders.  Moreover, a report in the British Medical Journal by Oswald and Adam (1980) suggested that benzodiazepines (similar to Xanax) yield weight loss when administered over a moderate (5-month) duration.

Overall, it seems as though persons using low doses of Xanax sporadically (or “as needed”) may be prone to transient bouts of weight gain from overeating, whereas individuals administering higher doses of Xanax over a long-term may experience modest weight loss.  That said, if weight change occurs from using Xanax – it’s unlikely to be a substantial amount.

Note: There are limitations associated with the research of Xanax on body weight, including: low number of studies; sample sizes; study designs; confounding factors; trial duration; sex of participants; and Xanax dosing.  Studies in which Xanax was found to induce modest weight loss were of significantly higher quality than the studies in which Xanax was found to increase food intake.

Variables that influence may Xanax-mediated weight change

There are many potential variables that could impact a Xanax user’s odds of experiencing weight change as a treatment-related side effect, as well as the significance of weight change that’s experienced (assuming weight is gained or lost).  Variables that might impact weight change (and its significance) while using Xanax include: Xanax dose; duration of treatment; and use of other substances.  Things like your baseline weight; previous substance use; lifestyle; and genetics – might also influence weight change on Xanax.

  1. Xanax dose

The dosage of Xanax that you’re taking could influence whether you gain or lose a significant amount of weight.  It is known that higher doses of Xanax tend to modulate GABAA receptor subunits (and other aspects of physiology more substantially compared to lower doses.

If Xanax-mediated physiologic changes and/or side effects stemming from CNS suppression is culpable for your weight change – then high doses may be more likely to amplify this effect.  Because low doses of Xanax won’t affect neurophysiology as much as high doses – weight change should be less likely to occur and less significant (if it occurs) compared to high doses.

  1. Duration of Xanax use

If you’ve experienced weight change from Xanax, the total duration of your treatment could’ve played a role.  In some cases, short-term Xanax use can cause transient weight gain because the user’s physiology hasn’t fully adapted itself to the medication’s presence.  With longer-term use, weight may revert back to baseline as the body becomes better adjusted to Xanax.

Furthermore, some individuals may experience a small amount of weight change (gain or loss) over the short-term – followed by weight stabilization (i.e. no further change) with longer-term treatment.  On the other hand, some individuals may not experience any significant weight change over the short-term, but might notice gradual changes over the long-term (possibly due to dosage increases and/or muscle loss).

  1. Use of substances with Xanax

Anyone who experiences weight change while using Xanax should reflect upon whether they’re using other substances along with Xanax – and investigate whether those other agents could be culpable for some weight change.  Concurrently-administered substances could: (1) augment physiologic effects of Xanax to synergistically enhance weight change; (2) counteract physiologic effects of Xanax to prevent weight change; or (3) cause weight change irrespective of Xanax’s effect.

For example, if you’re using a substance with Xanax that’s associated with weight gain (like an antidepressant or antipsychotic) – it’s possible that weight gain you’re experiencing is partly (or fully) attributable to the co-administered substance – rather than the Xanax.  Similarly, if you’re using a substance with Xanax that’s associated with weight loss (like a psychostimulant), it’s possible that the weight loss you’re experiencing is partially (or fully) attributable to the psychostimulant – rather than the Xanax.

  1. Previous substance use (before Xanax)

If you used any substances immediately before Xanax, there’s a chance that your body weight while initiating Xanax treatment may not accurately reflect your normal body weight.  For example, if you previously utilized an antipsychotic medication that caused you to gain 30 lbs., and then you discontinued the medication while initiating Xanax treatment – you may lose a significant amount of weight simply because you stopped taking the antipsychotic.

In this case, you may [mistakenly] assume that the reason you’re losing weight is because you’re using Xanax – rather than because you discontinued a medication that was associated with weight gain.  Similarly, if you previously used an anorectic medication that caused you to lose 30 lbs., and then you discontinued the medication while initiating Xanax treatment – you may gain a significant amount of weight simply because you discontinued the anorectic.

In this case, you may [mistakenly] believe that your weight gain was from the Xanax – rather than because you discontinued a medication that caused you to lose weight and/or maintain a lower body weight.  If you transition from one substance to Xanax, understand that your weight change on Xanax could simply be a reversion to homeostasis (because you’ve stopped using a substance that affected your weight).

  1. Baseline body weight

A person’s body weight and body composition could dictate the amount of weight change that they experience while using Xanax.  It is known that untreated neuropsychiatric disorders may affect dietary and exercise habits.  For example, unmanaged anxiety can suppress appetite to cause undereating in some people – and increase appetite to cause overeating in others.

If your unmanaged anxiety caused regular undereating and/or overeating, this may have resulted in the development of an underweight or overweight body mass index, respectively.  In the event that Xanax effectively attenuates the preexisting anxiety that was causing undereating or overeating – there’s a chance that dietary habits (and caloric intakes) may normalize, leading an individual to gain or lose weight – from an anxiety-mediated underweight or overweight state.

In the aforementioned hypothetical examples, weight change would probably be characterized as a reversion back to a healthy weight from an unhealthy weight.  In other words, because anxiety led to an unhealthy weight, managing anxiety with Xanax might enable healthy weight change.

  1. Lifestyle & genetics

A Xanax user’s lifestyle and genetics could impact the amount of weight change experienced during treatment.  Individuals who meticulously track calorie intake and make a concerted effort to regularly exercise – might experience zero weight change while taking Xanax because they’ve maintained the same energy intake and expenditure (as pre-treatment).

In fact, deliberate restriction of calories and/or increased exercise could lead to weight loss from Xanax.  On the other hand, persons who never track calories or exercise might end up experiencing unwanted weight gain while taking Xanax because they unknowingly end up consuming more calories during treatment or exercise less (compared to pre-treatment).

It’s also possible that a person’s gene expression could dictate whether weight gain will occur while taking Xanax.  Perhaps expressing (or lacking) certain genes increases odds of appetite suppression from Xanax – whereas expressing (or lacking) other genes might increase odds of appetite enhancement; possibly accounting for one’s likelihood of weight gain in treatment.

Possible ways to reduce Xanax-induced weight change

It is important to understand that many individuals will not experience any clinically-relevant weight change while using Xanax.  However, if you’ve noticed weight change from ongoing Xanax treatment and/or want to decrease likelihood of Xanax-induced weight change, you may want to consider employing some of the weight management strategies listed below.  Prior to implementing any of these strategies while using Xanax, it is recommended to consult a medical doctor to ensure that they are safe based on your medical status.

  1. Track diet & exercise: A majority of people who experience weight change never track caloric intake and exercise patterns. If caloric intake and exercise patterns are not tracked, it’s impossible to know for sure whether the weight change you’re experiencing on Xanax is actually a byproduct of the medication.  If you’re losing or gaining weight during treatment – this might just be due to changes in caloric intake and/or physical activity (regardless of the medication’s effect).  Altering your caloric intake and/or physical activity level should help counteract unwanted weight change while taking Xanax.
  2. Adjust Xanax dose: If you’re taking Xanax to treat anxiety, your goal should be to utilize the “minimal effective dose” – or lowest possible dosage of the drug needed to control your neuropsychiatric symptoms. By using the lowest dose of Xanax necessary for your medical condition, you should be able to minimize the impact of Xanax on your physiology.  If Xanax modulates your physiology in ways that lead to weight change, reducing its dosage should limit its physiologic impact and the degree of weight change that you endure.
  3. Manage side effects (associated with weight change): Some individuals may experience weight change on Xanax that’s fully or partially attributable to certain Xanax side effects. For example, one person might end up gaining a modest amount of weight on Xanax due to a combination of fatigue, constipation, and bloating.  In this case, it may be helpful to ask your doctor about treatments or effective interventions for Xanax-induced fatigue, constipation, and bloating.  If you’re able to reverse or counteract the specific Xanax side effects that are [somewhat] culpable for your weight change, your weight may normalize.
  4. Consider adjunct substances: If you’re using other substances (medications, supplements, etc.) with Xanax, you may want to investigate whether those agents could be culpable for some of the weight change you’ve experienced while taking Xanax.  Discontinuing any medically-unnecessary adjunct substances might help reverse some of the weight change that you’ve experienced while taking Xanax.  That said, if you’re not using any substances with Xanax, you may want to ask a medical doctor about trying adjunct medications (or supplements) to help prevent Xanax-mediated weight change.
  5. Longer-term Xanax administration: It is understood that in the early stages of Xanax treatment, body weight may transiently fluctuate because the user’s physiology hasn’t fully adjusted to the regular presence of Xanax. For a subset of individuals, weight change may stop and/or weight may revert back to normal – with longer-term Xanax use (as physiology becomes better-adapted to the medication).  If you’re a new Xanax user who’s experienced unwanted weight change, you may want to consider trying it for a longer period to determine whether your weight normalizes.

Note: If none of the weight management strategies outlined above seem to help reduce Xanax-mediated weight gain, and you hate the weight change you’ve experienced during treatment – be sure to inform a medical doctor.  Substantial unwanted weight change (gain or loss) may warrant Xanax withdrawal and/or transitioning to a different anxiolytic medication.

Have you experienced weight gain or weight loss from Xanax?

If you’re taking Xanax and have experienced noticeable weight change (gain or loss) during treatment, provide some details in the comments section below.  Report the approximate amount of weight gain or loss that you experienced while using Xanax, and speculate upon some possible reasons as to why weight change may have occurred (e.g. medication-induced fatigue, muscle loss, etc.).

In order for others to get an accurate understanding of your situation and potential confounding factors, be sure to document things like: your Xanax dose; duration of Xanax treatment; concurrent substance use (medications, supplements, etc.); and whether you’ve tracked your caloric intake and physical activity before and during treatment.  If you’re using other substances with Xanax, have you considered that those substances might be partially or even fully culpable for your weight change?

If you haven’t tracked your caloric intake and/or physical activity before treatment – is it possible that your weight change could be more attributable to random fluctuations in diet and/or physical activity than Xanax?  After the initiation of Xanax treatment, how long did it take for you to experience weight change?  Did you gain or lose weight in a short amount of time after treatment onset?  Or did the weight change occur gradually over an extended period of treatment?

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1 thought on “Does Xanax Cause Weight Gain or Loss?”

  1. I was prescribed xanax for 5 years. I am 23 now and female. When I started, I weighed 110. Over the next few years (not initially) I experienced gradual weight loss. I was taking a 1 mg dosage daily. After 3.5 years at that dose, I decreased to .5 mgs daily. 4 months ago, I stopped taking xanax altogether.

    This was decided based on increased anxiety levels and inter-dose withdrawals. The weight has not stabilized since I stopped taking it. In fact, the opposite has occurred. In the past 4 months I have lost 6 more pounds (which is a lot given the timeframe). My current weight is 93.

    I am seeing a specialist to determine a plan of action that doesn’t include going back on xanax. To speculate the cause of the drastic weight change, I would say that my anxiety after long-term use of xanax has spiked, which translates into suppressed appetite and decreased weight.

    I am not taking any other medications, but my doctor said he may start me on steroids to counteract the weight loss. I don’t want to take the steroids because I don’t want to damage my heart, but I understand that damage is probably already occurring given my low and diminishing BMI. I appreciate your article but I wish there were more information available about the after-effects of quitting xanax.


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