Depression may boost risk of type-2 diabetes

New study finds link between psychological and metabolic health


Ians April 16, 2016
The study revealed people who suffer from depression and metabolic risk factors are up to six times more likely to develop type-2 diabetes. PHOTO: FILE

TORONTO: A new study has found that depression, coupled with obesity, high blood pressure and unhealthy cholesterol levels, may increase risks of developing type-2 diabetes significantly. The findings revealed that people who suffer from depression and metabolic risk factors were up to six times more likely to develop the condition but those with depression alone were not at significantly greater risk. The study also finds that people with only metabolic risk factors such as obesity, high blood pressure and cholesterol, but not depression, were about four times more likely to get type-2 diabetes.

“Emerging evidence suggests that not depression, per se, but depression in combination with behavioural and metabolic risk factors increases the risk of developing type-2 diabetes and cardiovascular conditions,” said McGill University associate professor and lead author, Norbert Schmitz. The results, published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, suggested that when depression combines with metabolic risk factors, the risk of developing diabetes rises to a level beyond the sum of its parts.

Treating depression can lower heart disease risk

For the study, the researchers analysed 2,525 participants who were aged between 40 and 69 for four-and-a-half years. They divided the participants into four groups: those with both depression and three or more metabolic risk factors, two groups each for those with one of these conditions but not the other and a reference group with neither condition. The results indicated that depression, metabolic symptoms and the risk of developing diabetes interact in a number of ways and, in some cases, depression and metabolic risk factors may aggravate one another.

The researchers emphasised that not all cases of depression are the same — only some people with depression also suffer from metabolic problems. “Focusing on depression alone might not change lifestyle/metabolic factors, so people are still at an increased risk of developing poor health outcomes which, in turn, increases the risk of developing recurrent depression,” Schmitz suggested. 

Published in The Express Tribune, April 17th, 2016.

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