Certain medications used to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are known to cause weight gain and insulin resistance. In 2007 scientists at Johns Hopkins Medical School in Maryland, USA, found that clozapine (Clozaril), a second generation antipsychotic drug, raised levels of an enzyme abbreviated AMPK in mice, causing their appetites to increase.
Researchers at British Columbia’s Children’s Hospital and the University of British Columbia in Canada looked at the prevalence of the metabolic syndrome in children who had been treated with second generation antipsychotic drugs, and the results compared with the effects on children not treated with the drugs.
Their study, published in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry in January 2012, included:
- 117 children who had been treated with second generation antipsychotic drugs, and
- 217 children who had not.
The metabolic syndrome was seen in 19 per cent of children who had been treated with the drugs and only.8 per cent of those who had not. Those taking second generation antipsychotics had more than a 29 per cent higher risk of metabolic syndrome than untreated children.
- among drug-treated children, over 40 per cent had large waist measurements while only about 10 per cent of the untreated children had.
- a high level of fats in their blood was seen in over 33 per cent of the treated children and only about 18 per cent of the untreated.
- high blood sugar levels were measured in over 12 per cent of those taking antipsychotic drugs and only.7 per cent of the untreated children.
- high blood pressure was found in over 41 per cent of the treated versus about 16 per cent of the untreated children.
From these results it was concluded children taking second generation antipsychotic drugs should be monitored closely for the metabolic syndrome.
The second generation antipsychotic medications include:
- aripiprazole (Abilify),
- olanzapine (Zyprexa),
- paliperidone (Invega),
- quetiapine (Seroquel),
- risperidone (Risperdal), and
- ziprasidone (Geodon).
They are thought to work by affecting molecules called neurtotransmitters, which carry messages from one brain cell to another. They frequently rid patients of the hallucinations, flat emotions, and lack of motivation seen in schizophrenia. Side effects include fatigue, weight gain, high cholesterol, and high blood sugar. The makers of risperidone, olanzapine, and quetiapone warn patients taking their medications their risk of developing high blood sugar or Type 2 diabetes can increase.
Schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are serious conditions that must be treated but patients, their parents, and their medical advisors need to watch carefully for:
- Type 2 diabetes,
- overweight and obesity,
- high cholesterol,
- high blood fats, and
- high blood pressure.
If you or a member of your family is taking second generation antipsychotics, be sure to ask your doctor to monitor your:
- blood sugar levels,
- blood fats and cholesterol,
- blood pressure, weight, and
- waist size.
The metabolic syndrome is sometimes referred to as syndrome X or the insulin resistance syndrome. The earliest abnormality in Type 2 diabetes is insulin resistance, which is found in people even before diabetes can be diagnosed.