People who take antidepressants may be at higher than average risk for developing Type 2 diabetes, according to a new examination of earlier studies. But the link is not clear and some antidepressants may be of greater concern than others.
The study’s authors, researchers from the United Kingdom, point to such important factors as dose level and duration of use, Fox News reports.
“A definitive association cannot be drawn,” lead researcher Katharine Barnard, of the University of Southampton in the UK, told Reuters Health. “There is clearly a link between antidepressant medication and type 2 diabetes,” she wrote in an email, but the study results don’t indicate whether the drugs cause diabetes.
Dr. Peter D. Kramer, a clinical professor of psychiatry at Brown University, and a spokesperson for the American Psychiatric Association, said the study results show “there’s some reason to worry” and “something to watch for and think about,” according to Fox News.
Barnard and her colleagues examined 25 years of research studies to see whether there is a link between antidepressant use and diabetes risk. The team found one study with 17 individual reports of blood sugar changes tied to the use of antidepressants. Some people with normal blood sugar levels developed high blood sugar anywhere from three weeks to five months after starting antidepressants, though their levels returned to normal after they stopped taking the drugs. Larger studies containing from 1,000 to more than 200,000 participants yielded conflicting results, according to Fox News.
In a study of about 166,000 people with depression, 2,200 were later diagnosed with diabetes. Those who had taken moderate to high doses of antidepressants for over two years were 84 percent more likely to develop diabetes than those who hadn’t used antidepressants recently, according to Fox News. Other studies showed a weaker link between antidepressant use and diabetes, according to the present study, published in the journal Diabetes Care.
The researchers say it’s possible that weight gain associated with some antidepressants could explain a higher diabetes risk. But some studies that took participants’ weight into account still found a link between the drugs and diabetes. None of the studies were randomized controlled trials, which are the “gold standard” for such research.
Dr. Kramer urged patients taking antidepressants to be checked for diabetes and, if gaining weight, to discuss the diabetes risks with a doctor.