Antidepressants Tied to Increase in Type 2 Diabetes, Study Suggests

Antidepressants could put those who take them at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, a new study suggests.
Carried out by researchers from the University of Southampton, the study included a review of 22 studiesand three previous systematic reviews examining the effects of antidepressants on diabetes risk. The findings showed that those taking the form of medication were more likely to be diagnosed with the disease characterized by difficulty controlling blood sugar levels.

The study did not reveal, however, why this is or whether antidepressants are to blame, though the team outlines “several plausible” reasons, including the fact that antidepressant use is often linked with significant weight gain. This theory is somewhat problematic, however, given several studies which found a rise in diabetes risk even after adjusting for changes in body weight.
Despite this ambiguity, the researchers behind the new study argue that the results should prompt clinicians to exercise vigilance when prescribing antidepressants.
“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,” Dr. Katharine Barnard, a health psychologist and lead author of the study, said in statement.
For this reason, co-author Richard Holt, a professor of professor of diabetes and endocrinology and co-author of the study, stated: “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.”
According to a 2011 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report, antidepressants are the third most common prescription taken by Americans of all ages. Meanwhile, in the UK where the study was carried out, nearly 47 million prescriptions were issued in 2011.
“With 46 million prescriptions a year, this potential increased risk is worrying,” Barnard said. “Heightened alertness to the possibility of diabetes in people taking antidepressants is necessary until further research is conducted.”

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