Depressed Older People With Diabetes Live Longer If They Are Treated

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By: Patrick Totty

A five-year medical study in three eastern U.S. cities confirms what common sense would tell you: Depressed older people with diabetes live longer if they are treated for their depression.

The study, performed by the University of Pennsylvania, had two major findings:

  1. People with diabetes who had their depression treated enjoyed a greater reduction in mortality than people without the disease who were also treated for depression; and
  2. Depressed people with diabetes who received treatment were 50 percent less likely to die over a five-year period than people with diabetes who went untreated.

Researchers said that depression in people with diabetes typically leads to such unhealthy practices as not following diets or taking prescribed drugs, as well as a general lowering of the quality of life.

Although previous studies had established a link between diabetes and depression, with the two combining to create a greater risk of premature death, the University of Pennsylvania study was the first to study the effects of therapeutic intervention on diabetic mortality rates.

The study tracked 584 participants between the ages of 60 and 94 in three cities, New York, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, who had been screened for depression. Of that number, 123 were identified as people with diabetes.

Researchers divided the study’s participants into two groups. One received routine care while the other received “depression care management,” where depression care managers worked with primary care providers. Part of the treatment for depression included assisting patients with adherence to drug and food guidelines.

Source: Diabetes Care, November 2007

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