A chronic illness can cause many changes in your life. It may affect your independence, challenge you financially and affect personal relationships. It may also be stressful to maintain and establish treatments or lifestyle habits necessary to keep you well. With these stresses plus the worry of the illness itself, it is not surprising that depression is a common complication in people with chronic illnesses. Type 2 diabetes is a common chronic illness that previous research has linked to increased risk of depression.
Researchers from the United Kingdom conducted a review of previous studies to look for a pattern of depression in patients with type 2 diabetes. The review published in Diabetologia, found that people with type 2 diabetes had 24% higher risk of developing depression.
The systematic review included 11 previous studies. These studies had all looked for the development of depression in patients with diabetes type 2 compared to those without diabetes. A total of 48,808 patients with diabetes but without depression were compared to 123,713 people without diabetes or depression. Researchers followed the patients for 2-10 years and noted the development of depression.
The review found that patients with diabetes had a 24% greater risk of developing depression than those without diabetes.
The individual studies are observational studies which are considered less reliable than other study types. However, because the review includes such a large number of patients, the results are more reliable. In addition, many studies have shown that chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, are often risk factors for the development of depression. Given all of these factors, it is reasonable to believe that diabetes is a risk factor for depression.
Diabetes treatment should not only include steps to help manage blood glucose levels, but it should also include assistance in making necessary changes and managing stress. Support groups in person or online with other people with diabetes may help you learn strategies to decrease stress. Be aware of the signs of depression, including loss of interest in daily activities, fatigue, problems with concentration, sleep disturbance, or weight gain or loss. Talk to your doctor if you feel you may be depressed.
American Diabetes Association
The National Mental Health Association
Nouwen A, Winkley K, Twisk J, et al. Type 2 diabetes mellitus as a risk factor for the onset of depression: a systematic review and meta-analysis.Diabetologia. 2010 Aug 14.
Last reviewed September 2010 by Brian P. Randall, MD