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Warning on blood sugar with SSRIs

GPs should carefully monitor use of antidepressants in diabetes patients as the drugs can raise the risk of hypoglycaemia, a new study warns.

The findings are especially relevant now GPs must screen everyone with diabetes for depression under the revised quality and outcomes framework.

Patients on antidepressants with a high affinity for the norepinephrine reuptake transporter – including paroxetine – had a 87 per cent increased risk of hospitalisation for hypoglycaemia. It rose to over five-fold in those who took the drugs for three years or more, the analysis of 2,500 patients showed.

Current use of all antidepressants did not significantly increase risk, although there was some sign of an effect.

The Dutch research team advised monitoring all patients on antidepressants. Dr Rob Heerdink, a researcher on the study and assistant professor of pharmaecoepidemiology at the Utrecht Institute for Pharmaceutical Sciences, said: 'Large numbers of [diabetes] patients are treated with antidepressants. Many are able to monitor blood glucose at home. They should be extra-cautious when starting antidepressants and

also in long-term use.'

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