Diabetes May Be Caused By Depression

While it is common knowledge that having a chronic disease increases chances of depression in patients, here is evidence that indicates depression could also be a factor in causing chronic diseases such as diabetes.

A paper published in Diabetes Technology and Therapeutics, 2010, from Chennai showed higher levels of depression among those newly detected with diabetes and those with impaired glucose tolerance, as against those who had normal blood sugar levels.

Authored by S. Poongothai of Madras Diabetes Research Foundation, based in Chennai in south India, as part of a series of articles she worked on for her Ph.D, the paper is significant in that the tests were done in the community and the depression noted before blood sugar tests were done.

Co-author V. Mohan, who heads Dr. Mohan’s Diabetes Specialities Centre, says, “What this article flags off is the idea that depression itself may be a likely cause of diabetes.”

The subjects for the study were recruited from the Chennai Urban Rural Epidemiological Study. Of the total of over 23,000 persons tested, there were 1218 people with newly- detected Diabetes (NDD), 7,657 with impaired fasting glucose (IFG); and 14, 912 with normal fasting glucose (NFG).

While the overall prevalence of depression was 14.3 per cent, an increasing prevalence was seen with increasing grades of glucose tolerance: NFG (13.1 per cent), IFG (15.7 per cent) and NDD (19.7 per cent), being higher among women at all grades.

Depression can increase the risk of diabetes due to increased levels of counter-regulatory hormones, which can lead to obesity, insulin resistance and glucose intolerance, Dr. Poonothai says in the paper. “The lesson in this is that not only should we treat diabetics for depression, but that by treating depression, the person may actually be able to side-step diabetes,” Dr. Mohan explains.

His recommendation is also that everyone with depression must be screened for diabetes as well.

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