- Researchers say the risk is for all antidepressants, not just some types
- The pills could put hundreds of thousands at risk of type 2 diabetes
- The increased risk could be because people on antidepressants are more likely to be overweight and this is a risk factor for diabetes
- Scientists think the pills may also be an independent risk factor
Sophie Borland Health Reporter
14:00 EST, 24 September 2013
19:10 EST, 24 September 2013
Antidepressants taken by hundreds of thousands of people may increase the chances of developing diabetes, researchers warn
Antidepressants taken by hundreds of thousands of people may increase the chances of developing diabetes, researchers warn.
A major study involving more than a million patients has shown that those taking all antidepressant pills are at far higher risk from the condition.
Academics from Southampton University think this may be because antidepressants cause weight gain which in turn leads to type 2 diabetes.
But despite the strong link, they cannot be sure that the pills are definitely causing the condition.
Patients on antidepressants are more likely to be overweight so have a higher risk of developing diabetes in the first place than healthy individuals.
The numbers of Britons taking antidepressants has soared in the last decade and more than 50 million prescriptions were handed out by GPs last year compared to just 20 million in 1999.
But experts say doctors are handing out the pills too freely without considering the possible long-term side effects.
In one of the largest studies of its kind, academics from Southampton University looked at 25 research papers that involved just over a million patients.
The study, published in the journal Diabetes Care, found many patients were developing type 2 diabetes – the commonest form – after they had been prescribed antidepressants, which suggests the pills cause the illness.
Antidepressants can cause weight gain
and obesity which in turn worsens the body’s ability to regulate blood
sugar -which triggers diabetes.
Lead researcher Dr Katharine Barnard, a
health psychologist from the University of Southampton said:
‘Antidepressants are used widely in the UK, with a significant increase
in their use recently.
A major study involving more than a million patients has shown that those taking all antidepressant pills are at far higher risk from diabetes
‘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.
‘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 of Southampton, said: ‘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.
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 numbers of Britons taking antidepressants has soared in the last decade and more than 50 million prescriptions were handed out by GPs last year compared to just 20 million in 1999
Around 3 million people in Britain have now been diagnosed with diabetes, nearly twice as many compared to 1996 when there were just 1.4 million sufferers.
The rise has been blamed on increasing levels of obesity and nine in ten patients have type 2 diabetes which is triggered by being overweight.
Experts calculate that by 2020, there will be 4 million people in the UK with the condition.
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Cheadle Hulme, United Kingdom,
9 minutes ago
I love these comments particularly as I have yet to see a GP who isn’t a loon anyway:)
Wise County Texas,
22 minutes ago
Sophie Borland, you haven’t a clue. Antidepressants do not make people happy.
It is true however that far too many people are prescribed these who may not truly need them. In the USA, doctors are pressured to give these out, and then sued if someone offs themselves while taking them.
Fort Worth, United States,
1 hour ago
I’d like to see “happy pill” replaced with the accurate description “antidepressant”. As a long-term sufferer of severe depression, these medications have literally saved my life.
Yes, I have gained some weight – I am far from overweight – and diabetes runs in my family, but I consider the risks involved as opposed to quality of life.
In addition to antidepressants, I am in therapy and look forward to mental health in the future. With any medication, doctors are quick to write a prescription / apply a band-aid. Any drug can be misprescribed.
2 hours ago
I wish the DM would stop calling them happy pills. for some people they just help to live a normal life not ‘happy’
Swindon, United Kingdom,
56 minutes ago
3 hours ago
Someone who has reached a situation in life where they are prescribed antidepressants are going to be less likely to excerise as lack of energy and motivation are symptons of depression as is comfort eating. Also a side effect of antidepressants can be drowsiness which is also going to make the patient less active. A patient with a broken leg is probably also going to gain weight but not because of the painkillers. Simple scaremongering.
Sunny Florida, United States,
3 hours ago
I took Prozac at age 27 and in less than 2 years my weight jumped from 135 to 164. The gain was so depressing! My weight went back down after discontinuing it. In the almost 18 years since then, I’ve taken 2 other antidepressants with no weight gain. At age 45, I feel fortunate to have low blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar.
4 hours ago
Everything and anything can cause weight gain or loss but it’s how we manage this which is important.
is the pope catholic,
4 hours ago
so if your taking them be mindful of this and excersise and eat healthy etc,but then again,next week they will say prozac cures diabetes
4 hours ago
And they don’t work anyway.
Cheadle Hulme, United Kingdom,
11 minutes ago
UK, United Kingdom,
5 hours ago
Developing diabetes in later life is a small price to pay for a depression treatment that actually works.
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