Posted by: Chris Maloney | August 17, 2012

Is My Antidepressant Making Me Fat, Or Even Giving Me Diabetes?

Fluoxetine HCl 20mg Capsules (Prozac)

Fluoxetine HCl 20mg Capsules (Prozac) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of the side effects of antidepressants is increased weight gain.  But increased weight gain does not mean that the drugs cause diabetes.

But what if the antidepressants also blocked insulin?  In a study (Mol
Cell Neurosci. 2007 Nov;36(3):305-12) researchers found that the most common antidepressants did just that.  So it should not be surprising that a study on diabetes and antidepressant use found that:

“Long-term use of antidepressants in at least moderate daily doses was associated with an increased risk of diabetes. This association was observed for both tricyclic antidepressants and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. (Am J Psychiatry. 2009 May;166(5):591-8.)”

What if you already have heart disease?  Patients undergoing bypass surgery were at increased risk for death and complications if they took antidepressants.  (Am
J Cardiol. 2006 Jul 1;98(1):42-7.)

If antidepressants like Prozac, Zoloft, and the rest all had a long history of working against depression we have one benefit against another side effect.  But when you look for the studies about these widely used drugs we find:

No RCTs addressing the efficacy of maintenance treatment with antidepressants as compared to placebo were performed in primary care. Recommendations on maintenance treatment with antidepressants in primary care cannot be considered evidence-based.” (Eur J Gen Pract. 2010 Jun;16(2):106-12.)

If we haven’t done the studies to justify the medications, what are we basing the recommendations of continued use of antidepressants upon?

The research, overwhelmingly funded by the manufacturers of the antidepressants, doesn’t show the sort of dramatic effect we would expect from a massive branch of pharmaceuticals.  When matched against placebos that produce side effects, antidepressants do little.

“The more conservative estimates from the present analysis found that differences between antidepressants and active placebos were small. This suggests that unblinding effects may inflate the efficacy of antidepressants in trials using inert placebos”  Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2004;(1):CD003012

None of the studies go long enough.  “We suggest that current methodology has been unsuccessful in achieving unbiased double-blind conditions not influenced by extra-trial factors, including time.” Ann Pharmacother. 2003 Dec;37(12):1891-9

Let me summarize:  we have very little evidence to support decades-long prescriptions for antidepressants and mounting evidence that these prescriptions may be increasing diabetes.

For more studies on this and possible alternatives, go to:



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