Mental health patients are five times more likely to have diabetes
People who suffer from mental health issues are at a higher risk of developing diabetes, with prevalence of this disease estimated at around 5.5% in the general population, but as high as 20% in people with schizophrenia.
This is due to the fact that mental health sufferers have generally lower access to health services, self-neglect, use of psychotropic medication and possible genetic factors. Also mental health sufferers generally are unemployed or have low incomes and also don’t do much exercise which again are contributory factors to getting diabetes. Therefore, it is extremely important to test new patients with a mental illness for diabetes on admission, and periodically during their stay.
There are many drugs that can cause patients to put on weight and increase the likelihood of developing diabetes, but the most common in this respect are the newer anticonvulsants: clozapine, olanzapine and quetiapine. Since most patients will be exposed to polypharmacy with these agents, careful monitoring and review are recommended.
Seeing as mental health patients are already at a higher risk of diabetes, screening those newly diagnosed with a mental illness is a good opportunity to catch any pre-existing conditions. For those started on one of the new antipsychotics, a six monthly check up is recommended. All patients should also have an annual check of their fasting blood glucose done as a part of their wider physical health.
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