5 Weight Gain Causes You Can’t Control

frustrated woman on scale
The frustration and annoyance of seeing extra pounds on the scale, or of the sudden tightness of a favorite pair of pants, is understandable.

But did you know that anything from a hormonal imbalance to vitamin deficiencies to your medication can help control how much you weigh?

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“A lot of people make what we think are lifestyle choices but are actually our bodies reacting to factors we can’t control,” says Robert J. Hedaya, MD, clinical professor of psychiatry at Georgetown University Medical Center. “Whether it’s hormonal, a medication side effect, or something else, too often we put the onus on the individual, and there are factors that sometimes justify a doctor’s help.” Here are seven health issues that could be standing between you and your ideal weight–and how to fix them.


Many anti-depressant medications cause weight gain–so if you’re depressed and taking pills for it, expect to see a bump in weight between 5 and 15 pounds, with continued gradual accumulation over the years, says Dr. Hedaya, who is also the founder of the National Center for Whole Psychiatry in Chevy Chase, MD. If you’re not taking pills, there’s evidence that feelings of depression can correlate to weight gain. One 2010 study published in the American Journal of Public Health found that people who feel sad and lonely gain weight more quickly than those who report fewer depression-related symptoms. “They may be eating more high-fat, high-calorie comfort foods,” says Belinda Needham, PhD, assistant professor in the department of sociology at UAB and the lead author of the study.