To determine the effects of alprazolam on glucose regulation in anxious and nonanxious patients with poor glycemic control and establish whether regulatory benefits are related to anxiolytic effects of the medication.
Fifty-eight patients with poor glycemic control, 16 (27.6%) of whom had a symptomatic generalized anxiety disorder, were entered into a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, 8-week trial using alprazolam (up to 2 mg/day) as the active agent. Generalized anxiety disorder was determined in accordance with Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders criteria, and anxiety symptoms were measured using the Hopkins Symptom Checklist. Glycated hemoglobin levels were used to determine glucose regulation. Compliance behavior was assessed using glucometers and medication monitors equipped with electronic memory.
A statistically significant reduction in glycated hemoglobin level was observed in patients treated with alprazolam compared with those receiving placebo (−1.1 vs. −0.3%, P = 0.04). This treatment effect was not a function of differences in compliance behaviors. Anxiety symptoms decreased in both alprazolam- and placebo-treated patients with generalized anxiety disorder, but reduction in glycated hemoglobin level was not dependent on alleviation of anxiety.
A short course of alprazolam improved glucose regulation in patients with a history of poor diabetes control. This effect was not directly related to concomitant changes in anxiety. Alprazolam treatment of anxious patients with poorly controlled diabetes may result in decreased anxiety and improved glucose regulation through independent mechanisms.