Depression—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.
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.
- 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
- Statistics about diabetes. (2016, April 1). Retrieved from http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/statistics/?referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com%2F
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