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The Relationship Between Diabetes and Depression

0 2 years ago

The relationship between diabetes and depression is not new, but within the past couple of decades, researchers and primary care providers have been paying closer attention to this connection. In the late 1600s, the English physician Thomas Willis observed that diabetes sometimes occurred after significant life stress or sorrow.

If you have Diabetes Mellitus (DM), either type 1 or type 2, you have an increased risk of developing major depressive disorder (MDD). The reverse is also true, meaning that if you are depressed, you have a greater likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes, also known as adult-onset or insulin resistance.

Research suggests that the metabolic effects of diabetes can damage nerve endings and blood vessels, inhibiting brain function, potentially contributing to depression. Managing diabetes can be stressful with daily blood sugar monitoring, watching what you eat, and administering medication such as insulin. This daily monitoring can be stressful, and this continued stress can increase the likelihood of developing depression. Although diabetes and depression can co-occur together, both can also be treated together, and effective management of one can help have a positive outcome on the other.

Taking a look at the numbers

  • One in four individuals with diabetes reports having depressive symptoms
  • The lifetime prevalence of depression in women with diabetes is 10-25%
  • The lifetime prevalence of depression in men with diabetes is five to twelve percent
  • 52% of individuals with diabetes report experiencing social stigma related to their disorder
  • Type 2 diabetes is associated with a 20 percent increased risk for depression
  • Depression is associated with a 60 percent increased risk for type 2 diabetes


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