One of the most common side effects of anti-psychotic drugs is weight gain. Even the newer anti-psychotics like olanzapine and risperidol have been associated with weight gain. There are a number of individuals who will not take their anti-psychotic medications because of this disturbing side effect.
Over the years, it has become known that individuals who take anti-psychotics do develop a multitude of complications related to weight gain and in fact, these individuals do have a higher death rate than the average population. Why weight gain occurs with these anti-psychotic drugs is not fully known but, it is believed to be related to genes or a biochemical change in the brain.
There is evidence that some individuals may have genetic make-up, which causes the drugs to influence their eating habits. This is just speculation because the majority of individuals who take anti-psychotics put on weight. The anti-psychotics do not discriminate against any gene(s), race, gender, age, color, or ethnicity - everyone gains weight.
A few recent animal studies have shown that anti-psychotic drugs can increase the activity of an enzyme known as the appetite-regulating enzyme commonly known as AMPK. Further, all anti-psychotics also limit the ability of insulin to work; the resulting insulin resistance has also been associated with weight gain.
So what are the treatment options for these individuals?
To begin with, all individuals who take anti-psychotics should be encouraged to eat healthy and enter into an exercise program. A decrease in calorie consumption is important.
A single study from China showed the anti-diabetic drug, metformin, did reverse the weight gain induced by anti-psychotics. These effects were observed in diabetics who were on anti-psychotic drugs. Metformin should not be taken by individuals with normal blood sugar because this can lead to a severe lowering of blood sugars that can be life threatening. This may not be of great importance in China, but in North America, prescribing a diabetic drug to a non-diabetic is one “great method” of generating a medical malpractice claim.