Antidepressant Diabetes Risks Require Additional Studies: Report

Studies over the years have laid out a confusing picture regarding the link between antidepressants and diabetes, according to the findings of a new study.  

Researchers from the University of Southampton published a study in this month’s issue of Diabetes Care, which looks at various data sources, studies and clinical trials involving the diabetes risks linked to the use of antidepressants. They found that there is no clear answer on whether the drugs can cause diabetes and call for more specific research on the subject.

The study was a systemic review of a number of data sources including information from database, clinical trials, interviews with experts and other studies that looked at diabetes incidence and changes in blood glucose as they related to antidepressant use.

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Taking concrete data from three reviews and 22 different studies, the researchers found evidence that antidepressant use is associated with type 2 diabetes, but could not find a causal link among the studies. The researchers concluded that prescribing doctors should be aware of the potential risk of diabetes from antidepressants until more certain scientific data can be produced.

“Causality is not established, but rather, the picture is confused, with some antidepressants linked to worsening glucose control, particularly with higher doses and longer duration, others linked with improved control , and yet more with mixed results,” the study found. “Although evidence exists that antidepressant use may be an independent risk factor for type 2 diabetes, long-term prospective studies of the effets of individual antidepressants rather than class effects are required. Heightened alertness to potential risks is necessary until these are complete.”

Antidepressant Health Concerns

Concerns over the potential side effects of antidepressants, particularly a class of drugs known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) have risen in recent years following a number of studies. The class of drugs, which includes Paxil, Zoloft, and Celexa, among others, are used to treat depression and anxiety disorders and are among the most widely used drugs in the United States.

Last year, researchers in Canada found antidepressants like Zoloft and Celexa increased a patients risk for life-threatening brain bleeds by nearly 50%. Other research published in the British Medical Journal earlier this year linked certain SSRIs, Celexa and Lexapro, to an increased risk of abnormal heart rhythms, a side effect which the FDA warned the public about in 2011.

Other side effects of the SSRI drug class span beyond blood and heart problems and include increased risk of death for ICU patients and higher risk of giving birth defects following pregnancy use.

Lawsuits continue to mount against the makers of Zoloft over birth defects suffered by babies born to mothers who used the medication during pregnancy.

One study conducted by researchers in the U.S. and Canada found the side effects of antidepressants outweighed the benefits, concluding the drugs may do more harm than good to patients.

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