Why exactly does Abilify cause weight gain? (2023)

Question posted by Almostfamous84 on 30 Oct 2013

Last updated on 2 June 2022 by WildcatVet

I'll try to keep this brief. I'm a male model, 29 years old and I just signed with an incredible agency, so weight gain is not an option for me...
I recently started Abilify for treatment resistant depression (1mg a day because 2mg gave me panic attacks, so my pdoc advised I just split the pills in half, which dramatically relieved the issue) and as far as my depression goes, it's been a godsend! There are definitely side effects (irritability, anxiety, restlessness) but those are not my top concerns at this point. Right now, it's the frickin weight gain! Now, my appetite has dramatically increased and it seems insatiable (no matter what I eat, I'm never satisfied, I keep craving something else, I feel like I'm a pregnant woman). But is that the reason for the weight gain? Or is it something in the medicine itself that causes it, regardless of what you eat?

P.s. You should also know, I follow a strict diet and workout regimen:

-5 to 6 days a week of lifting
-4 to 5 days of cardio (20 minutes or 5 miles on the treadmill... depending on my motivation)
-And as far as my diet, it's high protein (lean meats), raw fruits and veggies, egg whites(no yolks), low carbs, no butters or oils and no soda

So please can someone put my mind at ease, so I can move forward with my career and stop obsessing about this!? And please try to stick to the core issue I'm asking about, I noticed on these forums that people tend to rant and ramble at times, and completely go off topic, which is fine, but I really need some help with this :(

Thank you in advance for taking the time to reply

My med history:


This question has also been asked and answered here: Does Abilify cause weight gain?

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63 Answers


WildcatVet 2 June 2022

This is a very good article that helps to explain causes of weight gain from antipsychotic medications.
Google "Why does Abilify cause weight gain" and scroll down to the article from Mental Health Daily.
Sorry we can't post links...

Votes: +0


Dave1975 2 June 2022

The main reason why it made me gain weight was because it made me extremely hungry.I was like that alien from the movie Venom where I devoured food like an animal.

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Jaymik 9 March 2022

I’ve been on 10mg of Abilify and your post is enlightening as I don’t eat carbs have a hx of a eating disorder and I’m 5’3 and usually 118 lbs. I’m now 160 lbs and I eat so balanced and clean enough for me to be loosing weight and I run/ walk 9-13 miles a day and do strength training and I was wondering why I wasn’t loosing weight. Until my friend said it slows everything your metabolism and your functioning. I feel like it’s true. I feel foggy and it’s hard for me to complete tasks. My Adderall doesn’t even help. And my metabolism is shit. It’s been since I’ve been on it as I’ve never been this fat in my life! I’ve tried a lot of psychotropic medications and this one by far was the most effective but worst side effects for me.


Wanz22 24 Oct 2020

Ive heard that it can affect metabolism.

Votes: +0


WildcatVet 23 May 2020

"The regulation of appetite and food intake is extremely complex and is controlled by part of the brain called the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus integrates information it receives from other part of the brain and from hormones released from outside of the brain including fat (adipose) tissue and the gut. These hormones include leptin and ghrelin but there are many others. Exactly how this complex system works and how antipsychotics disrupt it are not fully understood. Neurotransmitter receptors in the brain seem to play a part, with evidence implicating the serotonin 5-HT2C and 5-HT1A receptors, histamine H1 receptor and dopamine D2 receptor among others. Antipsychotics differ in their ability to block these receptors and this partly explains their different liability to cause weight gain. Both olanzapine and clozapine, drugs with a high risk of weight gain, bind strongly to the histamine H1 and serotonin 5-HT2C receptors.


The pharmacology of antipsychotics is not the only factor that determines their effect on weight. As already mentioned, if a group of people take the same antipsychotic there will be differences between them in their subsequent weight change. This reflects differences between people in their diet, level of activity and genetic makeup. Variations (polymorphisms) in a large number of genes, including the gene that codes for the 5-HT2C receptor, have been linked to susceptibility to gain weight with antipsychotics. It is the combined effect of these genes, rather that variation in a single gene, that is relevant to weight gain."

Votes: +0


mspain01 23 May 2020

I started Abilify yesterday. 5mg to start and then bumping it up to 10. But my doctor put me on it to help me GAIN weight. I had WLS last April and can’t stop losing. Plus I lost my youngest son in September 2019. I’m having a lot of medical issues with my blood pressure and heart rate. They did find out I have PFO but that wouldn’t have anything to do with my other issues. Sorry I got on a tangent. I just know I have taken it two days and I can’t stop eating. Good luck!

Votes: +0


Margray 26 April 2020

My doctor prescribed abilify, 5mg àbt 3 mons ago and even tho I went ahead and filled it, I didn't start taking it till àbt 2 or 2 and half weeks ago. Since the coronavirus is rampant right now, I'm over cautious of how I feel and will say that in all the meds I take now and all I've take over my 60+ yrs I've only had a reaction to 2. Anyhow I started out with stuffy nose and cough, coughing so hard that everything goes black and then I see spots, then my eye started to twitch randomly every day and my arms and legs (which twitch mildly from a back injury) started to twitch I would say 3 times worse than B4, and the desire to eat is unbearable for the last week, all these r side effects of Abilify.


I have battled weight all my life, once up to 250 lbs and on my own no bypass surgery or WW, I lost 111 lbs in less than a yr. Then I had gained back to around 200 and after I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, with no dieting or anything I lost down to 150 and have held it for àbt 2 yrs, with no effort. I think I AM feeling less depressed since I started to take it,. It's suppose to boost my pristiq, but even if the other side effects got better and I kept feeling better, and to feeling 100% "normal" it's not worth it to me to have to gain any weight back. I can't even count the number of times I have been going to the kitchen every day for the last week or so and after reading everyone's posts I don't see my craving or hunger or what ever it is that is causing me to want to binge eat all day and everything, to get any better. So thank you to everyone who posted on here, I'm gonna listen to u and call my doctor on Monday morning and tell him I want to stop taking this. Thank u all!!!

Votes: +0


Nancy Owens 27 Feb 2020

I will try to answer your question without an excessive amount of rambling! Lol. I have been taking Abilify for depression for about 5 years. I also struggle with Anorexia. It has caused complete havoc with my weight and eating, (intense cravings, overeating.) I resorted to anorexia three times to lose the 50 pounds I gained. It was almost impossible to lose it, I needed to resort to almost eating nothing, and extremely easy to gain it back. I don't think it's only poor diet and lack of exercise that causes this. I believe they are discovering that these antipsychotic drugs chemically alter your metabolism. They usually are very beneficial, but each individual needs to weigh the pros and cons for them personally with this medication. I chose to discontinue it 2 weeks ago.

Votes: +0


Debksmile 14 Jan 2020

Hi, I’m a 50 year old female and I’ve been on Abilify injections for about a year now, yes, I crave carbs! When I was on Zyprexa I also craved carbs and have gained weight on both drugs. Now, I am trying a new diet that limits carb intake to about 20-30 grams of carbs per day( keto). I must tell you that I’m so satisfied with all the fat I eat, and protein that I’m really not that hungry all day; I’m also going to be IF( intermittently fasting) like 42 hours per week... I did just start a couple days ago, but feel better already, there are creative yummy recipes on keto and I’m really excited about the program! I lost 42 pounds before about 7 years ago, with WW and Ideal Protein; the later is a lot like keto. I was on Zyprexa at the time 10 mg per day. Yes I gained the weight back, because I had too much going on; and stopped caring...


I soon got on Abilify and Wellbutrin, maintained a fairly good weight, but now I’ve discovered this new program and am very optimistic of losing weight again. I also walk 3-4 x week( 30 minutes) and use an elliptical machine 3-4 times a week!
I’m very hopeful!
Take good care! I would really recommend doing some research on Keto and giving it s try!

Votes: +0


Andie1955 5 Oct 2019

Hi. Just got this question in my email. I answer as both a patient and an R.N. My first hope is that you are no longer on Abilify. I assume you’re not psychotic and therefore, should not be using an antipsychotic for ANY other reason. I too was put on it for major depression, part of BP2 and my SSRI was not enough at the time. I loved how “great” I initially felt on 2mg of Abilify. I remained on it for 8 years!! The last 2-3 years, severe side effects emerged. My cholesterol doubled. My mood swings became out of control. I became very irritable and began to rage. Despite a strict diet and frequent heavy exercise, I had gained 25 lbs. I went off it slowly and had severe withdrawal with hallucinations and severe body tremors. My doc told me that could happen. She put me on Lamictal and titrated me up to 200mg. She also added Wellbutrin XL 150mg and continued the Zoloft 100mg.


I am still doing very well on this combo of meds. So, to answer your question, the ATPs affect both Histamine 1 and Leptin. It is thought that Leptin levels are so out of control that one never gets the feeling of satiety after eating an average amount of food, thus the appetite becomes insatiable with very strong cravings for sweets. The effect of the Histamine 1 is another and probably more significant reason for the weight gain. All Antihistamines for allergies, when taken long term can cause weight gain due to a lowered metabolism and a further increased appetite. Some ATPs are worse than others. After stopping the Abilify, I began to lose the excess weight immediately and fairly quickly. For me and many other people, Abilify was a true nightmare. I hope you’re off it too or will be soon, because I believe it to be extremely toxic and far overprescribed.. Best, AG

Votes: +0


Tina9 5 Oct 2019

I bet a factor could be the compulsive behavior that is caused by Abilify. I was on Abilify for 3 years and gained tons of weight although I am naturally obese without it. I have always been a compulsive eater so it is too hard to distinguish what part of it the Abilify was responsible for. However I did have the compulsive gambling from Abilify. I have actually won a class action lawsuit against Abilify for my compulsive gambling. So it's plausible that it caused compulsive eating.

I have since had weight loss surgery and take Adderall so I am thin now. It was messed up of my doctor how he watched me pack on 100 in 3 years while taking Abilify and kept prescribing it.

Votes: +0


lezli 14 Aug 2019

This drug causes insatiable appetite for some, including me. Once I started eating I literally could not stop. Worked great for major depression but within 2 months I'd gained 17 pounds. Scientist told me it messes with the endocrine system, damaging insulin response. Going off the drug did not help. Then I read this side effect can be permanent! It has taken me years to lose that weight and I had to completely give up sugar and flour to stop the food cravings. I cannot have those at all anymore because just a little bit sets me right back to compulsive eating. I highly recommend you stop taking it asap.

Votes: +0


Iloveskiing907 13 Aug 2019

I am on abilify too, I feel so hungry that I'm nauseous; I do not want to eat. I don't know what's going on with me.

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Wazerness 2 June 2019

I’m taking abilify and gained 20lbs. I’ve always been under weight and felt horribly uncomfortable. My doctor added topamax. This med controls the part of the brain that sends hunger signals. For me, this really works. Good luck. It’s so hard for us med wise to find the right combination.

Votes: +0


paulaselbe 1 June 2019

I am with almost every one of you. Been in Cymbalta and 2mg of Abilify. Always been thin and just don’t eat a lot. Well, in 6 years I have gained 90 lbs. From a size 2 to a 14. I do not eat anymore than I ever did and actually am eating healthier. I have developed high blood pressure, pre diabetes, metabolic syndrome and insurance resistance. I am on intermittent fasting and a super struck diet. Took me forever to lose 10 lbs but I’m not giving up. One more thing, I weaned off the drugs over 3 months but still ended up in looney bin when stopped all together. Abilify did help me but if I don’t get this weight off, I’m probably going to have stroke or heart attack.

Votes: +0

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