Weight Gain – Underlying Causes

Are you like me and putting up the good fight to stay healthy and keep off the weight? Sometimes, it seems like a losing battle as you are eating and working out as you always have, but still seem to be gaining weight. But there are many other factors that can be at play in affecting your weight gain.
Lack of Sleep
If you are not sleeping well, the biochemical changes that occur in your body as a result from lack of sleep actually makes you hungrier and leaves you feeling less full after eating, so you tend to eat more than normal. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about safe sleep aides that can get you back to sleep.
Cortisol, the so-called “stress hormone,” increases in your body when you’re under a lot of stress and also causes your appetite to increase. So, when you reach for comfort foods at times of stress, you have the perfect opportunity for weight gain. You can help combat this by keeping comfort foods out of reach and replacing them with healthy snacks that are not full of empty calories.
Depression can cause weight gain without medication, but one side effect of  taking certain antidepressant medications is weight gain. While you should never stop taking any medications on your own, you can ask your doctor about changing your treatment plan if weight gain is a concern. You also may start gaining weight when the drug treatment is working, because you feel better and have a better appetite. This goes back to watching what you eat and working out more which can help both your physical and mental health.
Steroid medications such as prednisone are well-known causes of weight gain. They cause fluid retention and increased appetite. The amount of weight gain depends both on the dose of the drug and the length of time you take it. Steroids can also cause a temporary change in body fat and how it is distributed in your body. Most see increased fat in the face, back of the neck, or the abdomen.
Prescription Drugs
Other prescription drugs you take can also cause weight gain. Antipsychotic drugs used to treat disorders such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, as well as drugs that are used to manage seizures, migraines, diabetes, and hypertension are among those with the greatest tendency to cause you to gain weight. You can talk with your doctor about choosing medication options that have fewer side effects.
Symptoms of an underactive thyroid gland include tiredness, feeling cold, and gaining weight. Having too low levels of thyroid hormone (hypothyroidism) slows your metabolism and increases the chance you’ll gain weight. Hypothyroidism can be treated with medications. Talk to your doctor if you are experiencing these symptoms.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
Polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS, is a hormonal condition that affects women of reproductive age. Women with PCOS typically have many small cysts within the ovaries. PCOS causes hormonal imbalances that can lead to excess body hair, acne, and insulin resistance, which can cause weight gain. In PCOS, the weight gain tends to occur in the abdominal area, increasing the risk for heart disease.
Quitting Smoking
People who quit smoking may gain a small amount of weight. Most people who quit gain 10 pounds or less. Though you may feel more hungry after you quit smoking, this side effect usually goes away after a few weeks. Food will taste better which could lead to eating more, but if you’re able to breathe better, increasing your exercise routine can help balance you out.
What’s not to blame?
Birth Control 
Many women believe that taking birth control pills causes weight gain. However, there is no scientific evidence this is the case. Some women may have mild fluid retention while taking the pill, but this is usually temporary. Perhaps reduce your sodium intake and increase the amount of water your drink reduce this side-effect.
Most women gain some weight during menopause due to a number of reasons. Aging slows the metabolism, so weight gain is likely if your dietary habits remain the same. Changes in lifestyle, like exercising less, can also play a role. Menopause can also affect the location of fat deposits in the body, increasing the likelihood of accumulating fat around the waist.
As long as you are physically able, exercise remains the key ingredient in combating weight gain. Talk to your doctor about exercises that will work for you. If you have the resources, working with a personal trainer, even if for a few weeks, can help you get back on track with a personalized plan for you.