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Study links antidepressant use with type 2 diabetes risk

Friday September 27, 2013
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Clinicians should be extra vigilant when prescribing antidepressants because of a possible link with type 2 diabetes, according to a data review.

The systematic review, carried out by researchers with the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom, showed people taking antidepressants are at a higher risk of type 2 diabetes; however, cause-and-effect could not be ascertained.

A number of studies have been carried out to establish whether antidepressants are linked with diabetes, the authors of the review noted, but results have varied depending on the methods used, type of medication and number of participants.

For a study published in the October issue of the journal Diabetes Care, researchers assessed 22 studies and three previous systematic reviews that looked into the effects of antidepressants on diabetes risk.

Overall, people taking antidepressants were more likely to have diabetes. However, the researchers warned that different types of antidepressants may carry different risks, and long-term prospective randomized control trials are needed to look at the effects of individual tablets.

“The picture is confused,” the authors wrote, “with some antidepressants linked to worsening glucose control, particularly with higher doses and longer duration, others linked with improved control and yet more with mixed results. The more recent, larger studies, however, suggest a modest effect.”

The researchers noted there are several plausible reasons why antidepressants are associated with an increased risk of diabetes. For example, several antidepressants are associated with significant weight gain, which increases the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Several studies observed an increased risk of diabetes even after adjustment for changes in body weight, implying other factors could be involved.

“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,” Katharine Barnard, PhD, health psychologist at the University of Southampton, said in a news release. “Heightened alertness to the possibility of diabetes in people taking antidepressants is necessary until further research is conducted.”

Study abstract: http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/36/10/3337.abstract.


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