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Antidepressants Linked to Type 2 Diabetes

Update Date: Sep 24, 2013 04:36 PM EDT
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Antidepressants may increase a person's risk of developing type 2 diabetes, according to a new study.

Researchers at the University of Southampton found that people taking antidepressants have a higher risk of developing the metabolic disease. However, researchers are not completely sure if the medication is responsible for the increased risk of diabetes.

The latest study reviewed previous findings from 22 studies and three systematic reviews that examined the effects of antidepressants on diabetes risk.

The findings revealed that people taking antidepressants were more likely to have diabetes. However, researchers noted 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 medications.

Researchers explain that there are several reasons why antidepressants are associated with an increased risk of diabetes. For instance, several antidepressants are associated with significant weight gain, which increases the risk of type 2 diabetes. However, many studies also found the increased risk of diabetes after accounting for changes in body weight, suggesting that other factors could be involved.

In light of the latest findings, researchers say doctors should be extra vigilant when prescribing antidepressants.

"Antidepressants are used widely in the UK, with a significant increase in their use recently. 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," Dr. Katharine Barnard, Health Psychologist from the University of Southampton, said in a news release.

"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," added Richard Holt, Professor in Diabetes and Endocrinology at the University of Southampton.

The findings are published in the journal Diabetes Care

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