Medication to treat depression may raise a person’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes, a new study has revealed.
Researchers at the University of Southampton reviewed previous medical studies that examined the effects of antidepressants on type 2 diabetes risk.
The studies revealed that people prescribed antidepressant drugs were more likely to develop the metabolic disorder. However, the University of Southampton team could not prove the drugs cause type 2 diabetes and also noted that different classes of antidepressants carry different risks.
However they did identify “several plausible” reasons why antidepressants may increase a person’s chances of developing type 2 diabetes, including a link between several antidepressants and significant weight gain, which is a known risk factor for type 2 diabetes.
The researchers said further long-term studies are needed to examine the effects of individual antidepressant medicines on diabetes risk and investigate what factors lie behind this associatio, especially as other studies found a connection between antidepressants and diabetes after taking weight gain into account.
In the mean time, they warn that clinicians should be extra vigilant when prescribing antidepressants given the possibility of a causal relationship between these medications and type 2 diabetes.
Dr. Katharine Barnard, Heath Psychologist from the University of Southampto, said: “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.”
Richard Holt, Professor in Diabetes and Endocrinology at the University, added: “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.
“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 findings are published in the journal Diabetes Care.

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