Researchers at the University of Southampton have announced that they have found a potential link between patients taking anti-depressants and the onset of type 2 diabetes.
A systematic review conducted at the university showed that people taking anti-depressants are at a higher risk of type 2 diabetes.
However, they added that they cannot be certain whether the medication is responsible for this link or not.
Health Psychologist from the university, Dr Katharine Barnard, said: "Our research shows that when you take away all the classic risk factors of type 2 diabetes; weight gain, lifestyle, there is something about anti-depressants that appears to be an independent risk factor."
Despite a number of studies being carried out exploring the link between antidepressants and diabetes risk results have been varied depending on the methods used, type of medication and the number of participants.
In UK, the use of anti-depressants has risen sharply, reaching 46.7 million prescriptions issued in 2011.
Researchers at Southampton University assessed 22 studies and three previous systematic reviews that looked into the effects of antidepressants on diabetes risk.
They discovered that overall people taking anti-depressants were more likely to have diabetes.
Although the researchers were unable to determine an exact reason for the link, they said there are ‘several plausible’ reasons why anti-depressants are associated with an increased risk of diabetes.
These include the fact that some anti-depressants are associated with weight gain which increases the risk of type 2 diabetes. However, the researchers noted that several studies that explored this association still observed an increased risk of diabetes after adjustment for changes in body weight, implying other factors could be involved.
The researchers warned that different types of anti-depressants may carry different risks and long-term prospective randomised control trials are needed to look at the effects of individual tablets.
"Heightened alertness to the possibility of diabetes in people taking anti-depressants is necessary until further research is conducted," Dr Barnard added.
Image: Symtoms of type 2 diabetes in patients. Photo: courtesy of Mikael Häggström.