5 Tips for Diabetes Management for Schizophrenia Patients

by Christina Bruni Patient Expert

Type 2 diabetes is on the rise in individuals with schizophrenia who take atypical medications. The biggest culprits in the poundage war are clozapine (Clozaril) and olanzapine (Zyprexa).

Along with other factors like inactivity and increased cigarette smoking this places certain people at risk for dying 20 years earlier. The single greatest thing you can do is quit smoking.

Along with this our medical treatment is often subpar. I was lucky to find a great primary care doctor to treat me. She has me come in every three months to get blood taken. It's one of the three tactics for newly diagnosed schizophrenia patients that I recommend.

Treating metabolic syndrome is often the first step in helping to halt the start or the worsening of Type 2 diabetes.

Three things you need to know:

  • Lifestyle interventions must be tailored to schizophrenia patients' profiles.

A high-fat diet linked to physical inactivity compounds the weight gain from atypical medication.

Outside of a structured in-patient setting individuals with schizophrenia could lack motivation to exercise and the monetary funds to buy healthful foods.

In a SharePost I featured healthy summer recipes that can be made with ordinary supermarket produce if you lack access to organic food. Another SharePost listed healthy eating habits. See also my personal nutrition tips and personal fitness tips.

  • Diabetes management is harder because patients with schizophrenia lack insight, can have a loss of initiative, and cognitive deficits that are linked to their illness.

  • Patients who are actively symptomatic might not take their required insulin shots or go to medical visits for check-ups.

Five tactics to consider for individuals who take schizophrenia medication:

  • Switching to a drug that has a lower risk of causing weight gain or glucose intolerance might be possible. As always, you must be monitored for the return of residual schizophrenia symptoms.

  • Getting social skills training and using cognitive remediation can enhance a person's ability to set goals like getting a job, thus giving them the added cash to buy healthier food and possibly join a gym.

  • Demanding that day programs and Clubhouses incoporate diabetes management classes and routine exercise groups into their treatment options.

  • Giving patients positive encouragement to make changes, gradually introducing new concepts and skills related to diet and exercise, and conveying simple messages for complex topics such as food skills in cooking and planning meals were suggested provider tactics by one set of researchers.

  • Taking two 500 mg cinnamon tablets with breakfast is thought to regulate blood sugar as a precursor to other treatment. I do this and my slightly elevated level has been normal for years now.

Related SharePosts on schizophrenia and diabetes:

An introduction to diabetes management

A true-or-false quiz about insulin
Keeping a food diary to control diabetes symptoms

A healthy breakfast for diabetes patients

Healed vs. cured: the difference

Christina Bruni
Meet Our Writer
Christina Bruni

Christina Bruni wrote about schizophrenia for HealthCentral as a Patient Expert. She is a mental health activist and freelance journalist.