Diabetic ketoacidosis associated with antipsychotic drugs: case reports and a review of literature

Psychiatr Danub. 2017 Jun;29(2):121-135. doi: 10.24869/psyd.2017.121.


Background: Second generation antipsychotics (SGAs) are associated with metabolic disturbances. Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) is a rare, but potentially fatal sign of acute glucose metabolism dysregulation linked to the use of SGAs. The aims of this article are to present patients with a history of psychotic disorders and of severe metabolic diabetic ketoacidosis, possibly associated with the use of antipsychotics, and to review the current literature on the topic of antipsychotic-induced DKA.

Method: PubMed/Medline and EBSCO databases were searched using the keywords: diabetic ketoacidosis, antipsychotics, atypical antipsychotics, second generation antipsychotics, clozapine, olanzapine, risperidone, quetiapine, ziprasidone, aripiprazole, paliperidone, amisulpride and haloperidol. Case reports, case series and reviews of case series were included in the review.

Results: The majority of patients who developed DKA following treatment with antipsychotics were treated with olanzapine and clozapine in monotherapy or in combination with other antipsychotics. DKA mostly occurred in the first six months of antipsychotic treatment. Other risk factors included insulin resistance prior to antipsychotic treatment, male gender and middle age.

Conclusion: Clinicians should consider the risk of DKA when starting treatment with SGAs. Preventive measures for patients with psychotic disorders using antipsychotics should include regular assessment of risk factors and screening for diabetes before and after administering antipsychotics, especially in the first months of treatment. Whenever possible, polypharmacy should be avoided.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Antipsychotic Agents / adverse effects*
  • Antipsychotic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Benzodiazepines / adverse effects
  • Benzodiazepines / therapeutic use
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Clozapine / adverse effects
  • Clozapine / therapeutic use
  • Diabetic Ketoacidosis / blood
  • Diabetic Ketoacidosis / chemically induced*
  • Diabetic Ketoacidosis / drug therapy
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Female
  • Haloperidol / adverse effects
  • Haloperidol / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Insulin / adverse effects
  • Insulin / therapeutic use
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Olanzapine
  • Psychotic Disorders / blood
  • Psychotic Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Psychotic Disorders / psychology*
  • Schizophrenia / blood
  • Schizophrenia / drug therapy*
  • Schizophrenic Psychology*
  • Young Adult


  • Antipsychotic Agents
  • Blood Glucose
  • Insulin
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Clozapine
  • Haloperidol
  • Olanzapine