Common psychotropic medications may be contributing to the higher rates of physical illnesses and mortality in people diagnosed with mental illnesses, according to a systematic review published in World Psychiatry.
“People with severe mental illness have a considerably shorter lifespan than the general population,” began the authors. “This excess mortality is mainly due to physical illness.” Led by psychiatrist Christoph Correll from New York’s Long Island Jewish Health System, the researchers then reviewed articles published in MEDLINE from 2009 to 2014. “We systematically reviewed the effects of antipsychotics, antidepressants and mood stabilizers on physical health outcomes in people with schizophrenia, depression and bipolar disorder.”
The researchers found that, “Antipsychotics, and to a more restricted degree antidepressants and mood stabilizers, are associated with an increased risk for several physical diseases, including obesity, dyslipidemia, diabetes mellitus, thyroid disorders, hyponatremia; cardiovascular, respiratory tract, gastrointestinal, haematological, musculoskeletal and renal diseases, as well as movement and seizure disorders.”
“Besides mental illness-related factors, disparities in health care access and utilization, and unhealthy lifestyle, psychotropic medications can contribute to the emergence or aggravation of physical diseases,” stated the authors in the study’s conclusions. “In general, adverse effects on physical health are greatest with antipsychotics, followed by mood stabilizers, tricyclic antidepressants and newer antidepressants. However, effects vary greatly among individual agents, and interactions with underlying host factors are relevant. Higher dosages, polypharmacy, and the treatment of vulnerable (e.g., old or young) people seems to be associated with a greater effect on most physical diseases.”
Correll, Christoph U., Johan Detraux, Jan De Lepeleire, and Marc De Hert. “Effects of Antipsychotics, Antidepressants and Mood Stabilizers on Risk for Physical Diseases in People with Schizophrenia, Depression and Bipolar Disorder.” World Psychiatry 14, no. 2 (June 1, 2015): 119–36. doi:10.1002/wps.20204. (Abstract and full text)