Is there an increased risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease in patients on antidepressants? What exactly is the situation?
It does not appear that antidepressants can be the direct cause of diabetes or cardiovascular disease. Indeed, antidepressants do not specifically disrupt biological markers of diabetes (blood sugar or glycated haemoglobin).
However, antidepressants may increase the risk of metabolic syndrome which is characterised by the presence of a combination of several abnormalities: abdominal obesity (enlarged waistline), low levels of good cholesterol (HDL), high triglyceride levels, high blood pressure and high fasting blood sugar levels. Metabolic syndrome is a risk factor for the occurrence of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Antidepressants, taken for long periods, could indirectly increase the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease by promoting the development of a precursor, metabolic syndrome. Talking about it does not mean it will happen. This can be monitored regularly by examination and blood tests if taken on a long-term basis. It is also an additional incentive to have a healthy lifestyle: balanced diet, physical activity, stop smoking…