Depression Linked to Increased Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

Closeup of man checking level of blood sugarDepression—accompanied by other risk factors—may increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, according to a study published in Molecular Psychiatry.

Research cited in the study indicates diabetes increased by 45% worldwide between 1990 and 2013. According to the American Diabetes Association, diabetes was the seventh-leading cause of death in 2010, claiming the lives of 69,071 people and contributing to the deaths of 234,051. More than a quarter of those with diabetes do not know they have the condition. Complications of type 2 diabetes, particularly if left untreated, include blindness, stroke, kidney disease, cardiovascular disease, and limb amputations, among other health issues.

The Link Between Depression and Diabetes

The study followed 2,525 participants over 4.5 years in Quebec, Canada. Through a survey, adults ages 40-69 provided researchers with information on their lifestyle, socioeconomic status, health, and demographics. Researchers also took biological samples and performed various physiological assessments.

The team divided participants into four subgroups: people with depression, people with three or more metabolic risk factors for diabetes, people with both depression and metabolic risk factors, and people with neither depression nor metabolic risk factors.

People with metabolic risk factors were four times more likely to develop diabetes, but depression alone did not significantly increase the risk of diabetes. When depression and metabolic risk factors combined, the risk of diabetes increased six-fold.

Does Depression Cause Diabetes?

The results do not suggest depression alone causes diabetes. Instead, depression and metabolic risk factors may interact to increase the risk of developing diabetes. People with depression may have difficulty adhering to medical recommendations. Depression can also make it more difficult to eat a balanced diet and get enough exercise. Over time, these factors increase the risk of diabetes and other health problems, which can then worsen symptoms of depression.

The study’s authors also point to evidence that some types of depression are the product of metabolic changes. For example, weight gain around the waist could signal a body chemistry change that increases the risk of both depression and diabetes.

The study highlights the need for early intervention to prevent both depression and diabetes. The researchers encourage doctors to offer integrated treatment to people who experience both depression and diabetes risk factors, as integrated treatment may be able to break the cycle that worsens both conditions.


  1. Schmitz, N., Deschênes, S. S., Burns, R. J., Smith, K. J., Lesage, A., Strychar, I. . . . Wang, J. L. (2016). Depression and risk of type 2 diabetes: The potential role of metabolic factors. Molecular Psychiatry. doi:10.1038/mp.2016.7
  2. Statistics about diabetes. (2016, April 1). Retrieved from

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  • mel


    April 14th, 2016 at 1:49 PM

    I can see where you are going with this but there have to be some other factors to take into effect as well. Just because you may see these two things together a lot does not mean that one may cause the other. There could be some other factors, like poor lifestyle and health choices that could contribute to one being diagnosed with both. I am not saying that there is no correlation because obviously there is a strong one, but it might not be the direct link that many would assume.

  • Jake


    April 16th, 2016 at 3:07 PM

    This could be in large part due to one’s body chemistry being all out of whack with either disease.

  • Debra


    April 18th, 2016 at 3:27 PM

    I am very interested in knowing if it is only type 2 where we see this kind of correlation or are other metabolic diseases even like type 1 diabetic at the same increased risk? My guess is no since one is a little more heavily influenced by lifestyle choices than the other one is.

  • Melissa T

    Melissa T

    June 20th, 2016 at 4:40 AM

    The blog is very informative for people who have Diabetes or without Diabetes. It’s definitely true that depression can increase Diabetes. But both can be control, you can overcome these problem and enjoy a much better quality of life.
    For more details you can visit at

  • Atanas


    March 31st, 2018 at 6:55 AM

    The readers might also find of interest the following new scientific review of meta-analysis of risk factors for diabetes type 2:

    With best wishes,

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