Psychotropic Medications is Associated with Rates of Obesity

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A new research which was presented at the Anxiety Disorders Association of America 30th Annual Conference showed that the obesity rate among individuals taking antipsychotics was more than doubled.

The United States and Canada who were both involved with the study, looked at the relationship between obesity and specific classes of psychotropic medications, including antidepressants, antipsychotics, anxiolytics, hypnotics, and mood stabilizers, in a large, nationally representative sample of 36,984 participants.

"There are issues that haven’t really been addressed in a population that already is at risk for unhealthy behaviors, since the risk for obesity is added on top of their mental illness," said first author Candyce D. Tart, MA, PhD, candidate in the Anxiety Research and Treatment Program Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas.

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It was discovered that the effects of psychotropic medication use appear to be specific to antidepressants and antipsychotics. The investigators found no relationship between mood stabilizers and obesity — a finding that contradicts previous research showing that these drugs are associated with significant weight gain.

"If we are going to prescribe medications, we need to assist with addressing the possible risk of increased obesity in this population and counsel them accordingly about increasing their physical activity level,” Tart said. In addition she stated that physicians should take the time to help patients by providing them with nutritional and physical activity recommendations.

Tart noted that this is a cross-sectional study. Also, she acknowledged that, as with “all psychological processes, there is likely bidirectional meaning: if you are obese, with the stigma associated with it, the lack of energy, the physical pain, and problems that come with it make you more depressed.”

"Several psychotropics are associated with weight gain as a risk factor: we still have to look at whether that is an outcome or an association," said Jerrold F. Rosenbaum, MD, psychiatrist-in-chief at Massachusetts General Hospital and Stanley Cobb Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts.

"Are people with obesity and psychiatric symptoms more likely to get treated, for example? The fact is, we know that with many psychotropic drugs you have to be aware of the risk-benefit ratio and monitor weight gain," he added. "There are choices one can make among the class of psychotropics, drugs that are greater or lesser offenders as far as weight gain.” He further stated that, "The study is an important reminder that there are health consequences in drug choice and those have to be weighed against symptom control and treatment."

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