Does Lithium make your belly bloat? 

Does Lithium make your belly bloat? 

Yes, Lithium can cause belly bloating and make you gain a few extra pounds. This side effect is more commonly experienced as belly bloating, where the abdomen feels swollen or distended (1).

It is important to note that not everyone taking Lithium will experience bloating, and the severity and duration of bloating can vary among individuals. Some people may experience persistent bloating and weight gain, which may reverse after drug discontinuation. (2)

Incidence of Lithium-induced bloating

Research suggests that the incidence of bloating varies among individuals taking Lithium. Some studies have reported a higher incidence of bloating in patients treated with Lithium compared to those who received a placebo or other medications (1,3).

The exact mechanism behind Lithium-induced bloating is not fully understood. However, it is believed to be related to the way Lithium affects certain bodily processes. Lithium can interfere with the balance of electrolytes in the body, particularly sodium and water levels (4). 

This disruption may lead to fluid retention and contribute to the sensation of bloating (1,3). Furthermore, Lithium can also affect the gastrointestinal system, slowing down the movement of food through the digestive tract. This delayed transit time can result in feelings of fullness and bloating.

What to do if Lithium makes your belly bloat? 

Talk to your healthcare provider if Lithium makes your belly grow. Edema on this mood stabiliser is extremely common and a number of people experience it. 

Meds like Lithium that can affect your brain may take a lot of time to settle in and your body doesn’t really adjust to them right away. 

The entire process of taking the most appropriate mood stabiliser is based on trial and error, and it could take multiple attempts for a person to finally start taking the drug that works best for them. 

Make sure you monitor your side effects and talk to your doctor. He/she can evaluate your symptoms, adjust your medication dosage if necessary, or recommend additional measures to manage the bloating. 

It’s essential to maintain open communication with your healthcare provider to ensure that your treatment remains effective and any side effects are properly addressed.

How to prevent Lithium-induced bloating?

To help prevent or minimize Lithium-induced bloating, there are a few strategies you can try (1):

  • Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water throughout the day to maintain good hydration. This can help prevent fluid retention and reduce bloating.
  • Follow a balanced diet: Stick to a healthy and well-balanced diet that includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Avoid excessive intake of salty or processed foods, as they can contribute to bloating.
  • Monitor your sodium intake: Limit your consumption of high-sodium foods, as sodium can increase water retention and bloating. Be mindful of hidden sources of sodium, such as packaged snacks, canned foods, and condiments.
  • Eat smaller, frequent meals: Instead of consuming large meals, try eating smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day. This can help prevent overeating and reduce the feeling of fullness and bloating.
  • Avoid carbonated beverages: Carbonated drinks, such as soda or sparkling water, can cause gas and bloating. Opt for still water or other non-carbonated beverages instead.
  • Exercise regularly: Engaging in regular physical activity can help promote digestion and relieve bloating. Choose activities you enjoy, such as walking, cycling, or yoga, and aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week.

If you are experiencing persistent bloating or discomfort while taking Lithium, it is important to discuss it with your healthcare provider. 

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Chokhawala K, Lee S, Saadabadi A. Lithium. 2023 Feb 26. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan–. PMID: 30085604.


Chen Y, Silverstone T. Lithium and weight gain. Int Clin Psychopharmacol. 1990 Jul;5(3):217-25. doi: 10.1097/00004850-199007000-00007. PMID: 2230066.


Oruch R, Elderbi MA, Khattab HA, Pryme IF, Lund A. Lithium: a review of pharmacology, clinical uses, and toxicity. Eur J Pharmacol. 2014 Oct 5;740:464-73. doi: 10.1016/j.ejphar.2014.06.042. Epub 2014 Jun 30. PMID: 24991789.


Demers R, Heninger G. Pretibial edema and sodium retention during lithium carbonate treatment. JAMA. 1970 Dec 7;214(10):1845-8. PMID: 5537339.