A link Between Diabetes and Depression

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Diabetes and depression are intimately linked, and one new study* indicates that seeking proper treatment for depression prolongs the lives of older people with diabetes.

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Can depression treatment program lower the risk?

While previous studies had indicated that depression increases the risk of death among people with diabetes, none yet had concluded that a depression treatment program could lower this risk. Depression is not only a risk for death among people with diabetes; it is a risk factor for diabetes itself. And people with diabetes are twice as likely to suffer from depression.

The Prevention of Suicide in Primary Care Elderly: Collaborative Trial was conducted among 584 patients 60 to 94 years old (average age of 70) from 20 primary care practices in New York, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh. It began with initial assessments between 1999 and 2001.

Upon follow-up approximately 5 years later, it was determined that 110 of the depressed patients had died. Those patients with diabetes who were receiving the depression intervention treatment were half as likely to have died in the 5-year interval as those who were not receiving the treatment. However, these dramatic results were not seen in the groups of people without diabetes. Individuals with depression who did not have diabetes experienced similar mortality rates whether they received the depression intervention or not.

Why is there increased mortality among people with diabetes who suffer from depression? The researchers cited the common finding that depression tends to interfere with the self-management practices of people with diabetes. People with depression have worse blood glucose control, and are less likely to stick to their diet and medication regimens. They also may have to worry about spending more on health care.

*This study was published in the Dec. 2007 issue of Diabetes Care.