Diabetes in Mental Health Patients a Growing Concern
The high rate of diabetes among people with mental illness -- roughly 20% according to some estimates -- "is jolting mental health professionals into rethinking how they care for an often neglected population," the New York Times reports. Of particular concern is that atypical antipsychotic pills can change patients' glucose metabolism and cause weight gain, particularly in people with a predisposition to diabetes.
Murali Doraiswamy, head of biological psychiatry at Duke University, said, "These drugs are enormously beneficial. But they have an Achilles heel."
John Newcomer, a professor of psychiatry at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, said, "This wouldn't be a big problem if most mentally ill patients had a primary care provider, but they don't. And it's never been part of the game plan for the psychiatrist to write the prescription for your blood pressure medicine or your diabetes medicine." Newcomer performs those tasks and hopes other doctors will adopt such practices (Kleinfield, New York Times, 6/12).