Antidepressant Use may Be Related to Diabetes Risk

A recent report shows an association between antidepressant use and increased type 2 diabetes risk, but just how strong is the link?

A report published in Diabetes Care has established an association between antidepressant use and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, but the authors were quick to caution that “elevation in absolute risk was modest.”

An international team of Finnish, Hungarian, and English researchers undertook “a series of nested studies within a prospective cohort of 151,347 working aged-men and women including 9197 participants with continuing antidepressant medication, 224 with severe depression, and 851 with incident type 2 diabetes mellitus during a mean follow-up of 4.8 years, as indicated by national health and prescription registers (the Public Sector study, Finland 1995-2005).”

Among multiple analyses, researchers discovered that:

· “Antidepressant use of ≥200 defined daily doses was associated with a doubling of diabetes risk in both participants with no indication of severe depression and participants with severe depression.”

· “The 5-year absolute risk of diabetes was 1.1% for non-users, 1.7% for individuals treated with 200-399 defined daily doses a year, and 2.3% for those with ≥400 defined daily doses.”

· “The 5-year absolute risk of diabetes was 1.1% for non-users, 1.7% for individuals treated with 200-399 defined daily doses a year, and 2.3% for those with ≥400 defined daily doses.”

Rob Dobrenski of ShrinkTalk.net noted that he received quite a few e-mails “from friends and readers all with the same question: did you hear that anti-depressants cause diabetes???” which isn’t surprising considering readers’ tendencies to jump to conclusions from headlines such as Antidepressant Use Tied to Increased Diabetes Risk or Anti-Depressant Users Beware of Diabetes.

Lead researcher Dr. Mika Kivimaki of the University College London told Reuters Health that he would suggest that others “interpret these findings cautiously and not draw firm conclusions yet” as the correlation could be due to the fact that “antidepressant users may see doctors more often than non-users do -- which, in turn, could increase their likelihood of being diagnosed with diabetes or other medical conditions.”

“Could it be that those who are on anti-depressants are simply at the doctor’s more often, leading to an increased likelihood of diagnosis?” Dr. Dobrenski ponders. “Of course.

“Do depressed people sometimes struggle with self-care, leading to a poor life style that lends itself to diabetes? Absolutely.”

As usual, more study is needed to determine the exact catalyst behind the increased risk.

How will these findings affect how you treat your patients with diabetes?

What would you say to a patient who’s read of this study and wants to stop taking their medication?