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New Links Seen Between Depression and Diabetes

Study Shows Depression May Raise Risk of Diabetes and Vice Versa

Second Opinion

“Both are very common diseases,” says Leonid Poretsky, MD, director of the Friedman Diabetes Institute at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City. “Diabetes can make depression worse because diabetes is chronic illness with a lot of worries.”

“So much of the treatment for diabetes is self-care, and people who are depressed may not take good care of themselves,” he says. “They don't exercise as much and may have other issues in terms of watching their diet, checking their blood sugar, and taking medications.”

Certain medications used to treat depression can also increase risk for developing diabetes, he says.

“It can be a vicious cycle. Both diseases have to be addressed at the same time,” Poretsky says. “If control of diabetes is deteriorating, look for depression as a possible cause of this deterioration.”

“This study is interesting, and one of a number of studies that points to a bi-directional link between diabetes and depression,” says Jeffrey Gonzalez, PhD, assistant professor of medicine and epidemiology and population health at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, N.Y. “The emotional side of diabetes is an important one to attend to in the treatments of this illness.”

“This speaks to the burden associated with diabetes,” Gonzalez says. “Changes in diet and lifestyle, having to take injections can lead to increased levels of distress.”

Doctors need to do a better job of addressing the emotional side of diabetes, he says. “We know that if you are distressed once you do have diabetes, you are at increased risk for poor self-management, complications, and death.”

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