Guanfacine & Weight Gain: What to Know

Published on: 28 Jun 2023
Clinically Reviewed by Bisma Anwar, LMHC
Guanfacine & Weight Gain

Guanfacine is a drug that’s prescribed for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and ADHD combined with oppositional defiant disorder. It’s also sometimes used off-label to treat anxiety in children. Taking Guanfacine can cause certain adverse reactions in some people, including weight gain. Those who use Guanfacine should understand how the drug may affect body weight and what they can do to avoid gaining too much.

Does Guanfacine cause weight gain, and if so, how common is it? It’s important to note that while yes, it is possible, weight gain from Guanfacine treatment is not guaranteed. That said, it does occur in some cases and is something to be aware of. 

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Keep reading to learn more about Guanfacine weight gain. 

Does Guanfacine Cause Weight Gain?

Unfortunately, there isn’t a clear-cut answer to this question. In short, some people might gain some weight when they’re on Guanfacine, while others may not. Research from clinical trials show that Guanfacine weight gain in children is possible, and perhaps more common than when adults take this drug.   

How common is weight gain with Guanfacine?

While weight gain is not an expected outcome for everyone taking Guanfacine, some people will experience it. Research shows that the extended-release form of Guanfacine resulted in “significant weight gain” in up to 5% of participants. If, and how, much weight someone will gain depends on factors like metabolism, lifestyle habits, dosage, and other factors. 

Why Does Guanfacine Cause Weight Gain?

The exact cause of why some people experience weight gain on Guanfacine while others don’t is somewhat of a mystery. We know that children taking the extended-release form of the drug have more potential to gain weight than adults who take Guanfacine for blood pressure. 


One theory is that Guanfacine may affect hormones, leading to changes in eating habits and the types of foods craved. 

Non-stimulant medication

Switching from a stimulant medication to Guanfacine may result in less physical activity since the new medication is not a stimulant (which is typically an appetite suppressant). Over time, increased caloric intake without burning calories might result in potential weight gain if left unchecked.   

“A significant portion of people who take Guanfacine have reported weight gain. The medication acts as an appetite stimulant. In the same way, it stimulates blood vessels so that our heart rate and blood pressure can maintain more of an equilibrium.”

Talkspace therapist Meaghan Rice, PsyD, LPC

How to Avoid Gaining Weight on Guanfacine

Here are some tips you can use to try and avoid gaining weight while taking Guanfacine.

  • Eat healthy: Healthy meals that are low in fat and sugar should always be a priority. Nourishing your body can improve mental and physical health so you feel better in general. When you add in medication that could potentially cause weight gain, a healthy diet becomes even more important.
  • Get enough physical exercise: Get regular physical activity like walking, biking, or jogging for at least 30 minutes a day, if possible.   
  • Monitor your calorie intake: Try to monitor your calorie intake throughout the day. You can use various online apps or keep a food journal where you write down what you eat each day if you need help tracking how much food you consume. Logging food is a great way to prevent overeating that could lead to unwanted extra pounds over time.

If you’re trying all these tips but still experiencing weight gain you believe is related to your medication, reach out to your doctor for proper medical advice. They can assess the possible causes and make adjustments to your medication or suggest even more lifestyle changes.  

“Ideas to help maintain desired weight include focusing on a well-balanced diet, maintaining an exercise routine that stimulates our physical bodies, drinking a lot of water — mostly water rather than other kinds of liquid — practicing mindfulness around food and eating, accessing professional support to maintain healthy habits.”

Talkspace therapist Meaghan Rice, PsyD, LPC

Talk to Your Doctor About Guanfacine Side Effects

While it can effectively manage ADHD symptoms and treat some other conditions, some people experience weight gain as an unwanted but possible side effect of Guanfacine. Talking to your doctor about potential adverse effects before taking Guanfacine or other stimulant medications is essential. 

Take control of your health and well-being today with Talkspace’s online solutions for managing ADHD and Guanfacine weight gain. From learning how long Guanfacine takes to work to understanding potential Guanfacine withdrawal symptoms,  our experienced professionals are here to help provide answers. Start making lasting lifestyle changes today that benefit your long-term physical and mental well-being!   

If you’re looking to get a prescription for Guanfacine online, connect with an licensed online prescriber at Talkspace.


  1. Pringsheim T, Hirsch L, Gardner D, Gorman DA. The pharmacological management of oppositional behaviour, conduct problems, and aggression in children and adolescents with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, and conduct disorder: A systematic review and meta-analysis. part 1: Psychostimulants, alpha-2 agonists, and Atomoxetine. The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry. 2015;60(2):42-51. doi:10.1177/070674371506000202. Accessed March 27, 2023.
  2. INTUNIV (guanfacine) extended-release tablets. FDA. Accessed March 24, 2023. 
  3. Siddiqi SU, Giordano BP, Dedlow ER. Excessive weight gain with Guanfacine. Clinical Pediatrics. 2014;54(8):793-795. doi:10.1177/0009922814548840. Accessed March 24, 2023.

Talkspace articles are written by experienced mental health-wellness contributors; they are grounded in scientific research and evidence-based practices. Articles are extensively reviewed by our team of clinical experts (therapists and psychiatrists of various specialties) to ensure content is accurate and on par with current industry standards.

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