Diabetes Risk Is Elevated For Those Taking Antidepressants
September 25, 2013

Antidepressant Use Associated With Increased Risk Of Diabetes

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

Taking antidepressants could increase a person’s risk of contracting type 2 diabetes, researchers from the University of Southampton warn in the latest edition of the journal Diabetes Care.

According to Daily Mail Health Reporter Sophie Borland, the study authors conducted a systematic review involving over one million patients, and discovered that men and women taking any type of antidepressant drug face an elevated risk of developing the metabolic disease.

The researchers, who reviewed 22 studies and three previous systematic reviews investigating the link between antidepressants and diabetes, emphasize that it is not certain that the medication is responsible. However, in a statement, they explained that there are “several plausible” reasons why there may be a link between the two.

For example, several types of antidepressants have been associated with significant weight gain, which itself can increase the odds that a person will develop type 2 diabetes. However, they also said that several studies into this phenomenon have observed an increased diabetes risk, even after adjusting for changes in body weight. That implies that there may be other factors involved, according to the researchers.

The researchers report that the risk was linked with all types of antidepressants, not just a select few, Borland said. The Daily Mail reporter added that the medications could put hundreds of thousands of people at risk of developing the ailment, in which a person has high blood sugar because either their pancreas does not produce enough insulin, or because their cells do not respond to the amount of the peptide hormone that is actually produced.

“Antidepressants are used widely in the UK, with a significant increase in their use recently,” said Dr. Katharine Barnard, a health psychologist from the University of Southampton. “Our research shows that when you take away all the classic risk factors of type 2 diabetes; weight gain, lifestyle etc, there is something about antidepressants that appears to be an independent risk factor. With 46 million prescriptions a year, this potential increased risk is worrying. Heightened alertness to the possibility of diabetes in people taking antidepressants is necessary until further research is conducted.”

“While depression is an important clinical problem and antidepressants are effective treatments for this debilitating condition, clinicians need to be aware of the potential risk of diabetes, particularly when using antidepressants in higher doses or for longer duration,” added Richard Holt, a diabetes and endocrinology professor at the UK university. “When prescribing antidepressants, doctors should be aware of this risk and take steps to monitor for diabetes and reduce that risk of diabetes through lifestyle modification.”

The researchers report that 46.7 million prescriptions were issued in the UK in 2011. That same year, the US Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that 11 percent of Americans over the age of 12 used antidepressant medication, and that the use of the drugs increased by nearly 400 percent from 1988-1994 through 2005-2008.