New research has linked antidepressants to an increased risk of Type 2 diabetes.
The study, by researchers at the University of Southampton, suggests clinicians should be more careful in prescribing depression medications.
The findings, published in the journal Diabetes Care, are based on systematic review of 25 studies and research projects examining the potential links between antidepressants prescribed to tens of millions of people and the metabolic disorder.
Overall, the research found people taking antidepressants were more likely to have diabetes, but also that different types of depression medications carry different risks for diabetes.
"Antidepressants are used widely … with a significant increase in their use recently," said lead researcher Katharine Barnard, M.D., a psychologist from the University of Southampton. "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."
The research team identified "several plausible" reasons why antidepressants boost diabetes risks. Among them: Several antidepressants are associated with weight gain, which increases the risk of type 2 diabetes.
"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," said Richard Holt, a diabetes specialist at the University of Southampton.
"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."
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