Why Does Fibromyalgia Lead to Weight Gain?


Gaining Weight? Fibromyalgia patients are more prone to weight gain as compared to a healthy individual. Do you know the reasons behind fibromyalgia weight gain and how to prevent it?

Reasons behind fibromyalgia weight gain:

Pain and inactivity
The pain in fibromyalgia can be so severe that even the slightest movement can cause throbbing pain. Moreover, the tenderness and stiffness in your muscles makes it painful to move around. With all the pain involved during movement, exercise is totally unimaginable with fibromyalgia. The lack of activity and exercise is one reason why you are gaining weight because your body is not expending the energy from food intake hence causing weight gain.

Lack of sleep
Fibromyalgia is known to disrupt sleep due to pain or stress experienced from the chronic pain disorder. However, sleep is crucial to weight management. One study found that women who get less than six hours or more than nine hours of sleeping time a night were more inclined to putting on 11 pounds of weight compared with women who stick to a seven hours sleep. Lack of sleep affects hormones regulating our appetite such as cortisol, ghrelin and leptin causing us to eat more during the day.

Stress, be it due to the stress of the chronic pain or other factors, could be another reason of weight gain in fibromyalgia. Stress increases the production of the stress hormones, cortisol, which increases your appetite. As a result, you end up indulging in comfort food like sweet treats, soft drinks or junk foods to help you cope with the stress but often lead to weight gain.

The medication you are on can also bring about weight gain. Certain common medication prescribed to fibromyalgia patients cause side effect of weight gain. For instance, second generation antidepressants such as SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) drugs, tricyclics and MAO inhibitors are known to cause weight gain. According to WebMD, 1 out of 4 patients on antidepressants can put on 10 pounds or more weight.

How to prevent weight gain in Fibromyalgia:

Start and maintain a regular exercise regime
No matter how unimaginable it is, know that exercise is crucial in improving fibromyalgia and reducing pain and its symptoms. Other than helping weight management, exercise increase balance, strength and flexibility of your muscles which are believed to help ease muscle pain. Exercise also helps in stress relief and improve sleep which improve fibromyalgia symptoms and reduce weight gain. Exercise that are recommended for fibromyalgia patients include warm water aerobics, taichi, yoga, walking. Start slow and increase frequency, duration and difficulty of exercise gradually.

Stick to a healthy and nutritious diet 
Maintain a healthy diet full of whole foods such as whole grains, fresh vegetables and fruits, fresh lean protein. Keep your meals low-fat and low sugar. Go for food which has high nutritional value, high in vitamins and minerals and high in fibre and proteins. Avoid food which are high in calories and fat and known to cause weight gain such as junk food, sweet treats, deep fried food, fast food etc.

Visit the doctor 
Talk to your health care provider about your weight gain. If the weight gain is a side effect of a medication you’re on, seek your doctor’s opinion on switching medications. You may also get a referral to a physiotherapist who can suggest a work out and stretching regime that is suitable for your condition.


  1. Bouchez, Colette. “Fat Pharms: Antidepressants and Weight Gain.” WebMD. Accessed on: http://www.webmd.com/depression/features/antidepressants-weight-gain
  2. David Arterburn et al. Long-Term Weight Change after Initiating Second-Generation Antidepressants. J Clin Med. 2016 Apr; 5(4): 48.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *