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Diabetes and Depression Closely Related

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

Researchers from Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, studied women diagnosed with depression, finding they are more prone to developing diabetes. Conversely, diabetes treatment was linked to increased risk of being depressed, making the two closely related.

The findings suggest depression may be a risk factor for developing the disease and also suggest the need for aggressive interventions that can treat both.

Depression Spawns Diabetes and Vice Versa

An analysis conducted by Harvard researcher An Pan, Ph.D and colleagues found depression comes from both directions – diabetes comes from and causes depression.

The researchers conducted an assessment that they said adds “to the growing evidence that depression and diabetes are closely related to each other, and this reciprocal association also depends on the severity or treatment of each condition. All the associations were independent of sociodemographic, diet and lifestyle factors."

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For the study, the researchers assessed women age 50 to 75 who they followed for ten years. After adjusting for other factors that contribute to mood disorder, they found women with depression were 17 percent more likely to develop diabetes. Women taking insulin for diabetes treatment were 53 percent more likely to suffer from depression.

The findings indicated depression alone might be a risk factor for diabetes, independent of activity and obesity.

The authors say, “diagnosis of diabetes may lead to the symptoms of depression for the following reasons: depression may result from the biochemical changes directly caused by diabetes or its treatment, or from the stresses and strains associated with living with diabetes and its often debilitating consequences.”

The study authors concluded physical activity and weight managements are interventions that can curb both diabetes and depression. They suggest further studies to understand the close relationship between developing the disease and the higher association of depression found in diabetic women studied.

Arch Intern Med. 2010;170[21]:1884-1891



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