Atypicals Associated with Diabetes in Adults Without Schizophrenia or Bipolar Diagnoses


Writing in Evidence Based Mental Health, researchers from Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital found that use of medication for diabetes was significantly associated with prior use of atypical antipsychotics.

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Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.


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Kermit Cole
Kermit Cole, MFT, founding editor of Mad in America, works in Santa Fe, New Mexico as a couples and family therapist. Inspired by Open Dialogue, he works as part of a team and consults with couples and families that have members identified as patients. His work in residential treatment — largely with severely traumatized and/or "psychotic" clients — led to an appreciation of the power and beauty of systemic philosophy and practice, as the alternative to the prevailing focus on individual pathology. A former film-maker, he has undergraduate and master's degrees in psychology from Harvard University, as well as an MFT degree from the Council for Relationships in Philadelphia. He is a doctoral candidate with the Taos Institute and the Free University of Brussels. You can reach him at [email protected].


  1. Virtually everyone realizes that alcohol and drug addictions tend to be associated with much interpersonal trauma, that can lead to huge difficulties; but, not everyone realizes that excessive ‘simple carb’ and/or sugar consumption (both, or either) can *cause* immense physical trauma (i.e., metabolic trauma), which can wind up being expressed as seeming “mood disorders” and other supposed “psychiatric” conditions; in fact, an apparent “psychosis” can be generated largely (and, perhaps, even entirely) as the result of adopting a ‘diet’ that’s, in truth, altogether incompatible with ones needs.

    Many young adults, upon first leaving the nest, may suddenly adopt a completely different diet – and, perhaps, a truly horrible diet (such as I did); indeed, being adolescents, suddenly living on their own, in any number of ill-advised ways, they may test their physical limits (e.g., deliberately not sleeping) – and, thus, develop a seeming ‘psychosis.’

    The resulting crisis is *not* necessarily caused by childhood trauma; though, it may raise festering, unresolved ‘family-of-origin’ issues.

    Twenty-five years ago, a couple of years after experiencing such a personal-interpersonal crisis, I was directed to one of the foremost, psychiatric “mood disorder” clinics in the country; by virtue of having endured that crisis, which had led to so-called, “hospitalization,” I entered that clinic as an individual already “diagnosed” with a supposed, “serious ‘mental illness’”; no one asked me a thing about my eating habits (just as no one had done so when I’d been “hospitalized”). Do “patients” still receive such careless ‘treatment’ there, today? I don’t know. But, most psychiatrists are more or less ignoring real causes.

    For instance, few psychiatrists will ever realize (as they are unwilling to consider and admit), that: very often, what they claim is a “mood disorder” (theoretically, caused by an, as yet, undetectable “brain disorder”) is actually little more than a set of behavioral and/or affect-related ‘symptoms’ born of unaddressed, highly problematic eating habits; perhaps, those habits led one to develop hypoglycemia (increasingly chronic bouts of relatively severe blood-sugar-level drops).

    Hypoglycemia can be the direct result of consuming excessive amounts of highly processed carbohydrates – e.g., in particular, refined sugar – and, perhaps, high-carb alcohol, such as beer. (Just think, for example, of the diet, of so many who go away to college for the first time.)

    If undiscovered (and, thus, progressively worsening), hypoglycemia can become the ruin of college students – as it undermines ones mental and emotional health and eventually makes a shambles of ones sense of confidence and well-being. It can make studying impossible, for it will eventually create daily cycles of confusion and/or despair – if not ‘just’ create much anxiety which leads one to increasingly debilitating and near-constant self-doubting.

    Fortunately, ones blood-sugar level can be stabilized rather easily by a complete turn to healthful eating (that begins with cutting out ‘simple’ carbs); but, on the other hand, if the hypoglycemia is not identified, and that lousy diet which creates it persists, it can eventually lead to a perceived ‘psychosis.’

    (And, note: excessive/habitual caffeine consumption can contribute to these problems – e.g., such as the caffeine in colas and in many so-called, “energy drinks.”)

    At least, some few readers here may be well aware of how hypoglycemia can wind up perceived as an apparent, ‘psychiatric emergency’; but, I’ve pointed it out for the benefit of any who may not be aware…

    And, I raise this issue here, now, because: many so-called “antipsychotic” meds are known to cause diabetes in the long haul; that means they progressively *raise* ones average blood sugar level (as measured periodically, across time); thus, such drugs can, at first, in effect, off-set many symptoms of what may actually have been, to begin, hypoglycemia (that original, underlying problem, of debilitating, low blood-sugar patterns).

    I presume this is one reason why some people’s ‘moods’ seem, at first, to be “stabilized” on so-called “antispsychotic” meds. A somewhat raised average blood sugar level (a “side-effect” of many “antipsychotics”) will reduce ‘mood swings’ caused by hypoglycemia, and that will come as a relief to many – until that rising average blood sugar level becomes way too high (as in the case of one coming to develop diabetes).

    Smarter ‘mental health’ professionals will see through the absurdity of vaguely conceived notions of “brain disorder” (and will eschew the concomitant, supposed ‘necessity’ of “antipsychotic” meds); they’ll thoughtfully study the lives of supposedly “mood disordered” young people; they may recommend getting ‘blood-work’ done (e.g., checking thyroid levels) as well as suggest a *six-hour* blood-sugar fasting test (it’s very important to get that lengthier test – as opposed to the usual two- and three-hour tests, which do not show a full enough picture).

    They’ll understand their young clients’ genuine needs (including the need to be heard); they’ll listen carefully; and, then, before too long, they’ll convey a clear sense of the lasting benefits, of coming to adopt a genuinely healthy diet, a regular exercise routine, a practice of mindfulness; and, of course, they’ll gently encourage a proper appreciation for the art and practice of getting a good night’s sleep.

    They’ll lead by example. They’ll drop all labels. And, they won’t force anything.

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  2. As I’ve said many times, the overprescription of psychiatric drugs is going to pay off in a rise in diabetes. Public health studies will demonstrate this.

    Society will have to decide whether the risk of diabetes, a real illness, is worth widespread prescription of ineffective drugs for conditions that may not exist.

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