Risk of Kidney Failure in Diabetics Nearly Doubles with Major Depression

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By: Brenda Neugent

If you have type 2 diabetes and also suffer from depression, you may want to keep an even closer eye on your kidney health.

According to the results of a new study, diabetics who also suffer from severe depression – the kind that makes it difficult to work, sleep or enjoy activities with friends and family – have nearly twice the risk of kidney failure.

A mind-body link has already been established between diabetes and depression, and those diagnosed with diabetes are more likely to also suffer from depression. Experts believe that the higher levels of stress hormones that are associated with depression – including cortisol – play a role in the elevated blood sugar levels that lead to insulin resistance and diabetes.

This study is the first time kidney disease – most commonly caused by diabetes – has also been addressed.

Researchers studied 3,886 adults with diabetes, 8.4 percent of them with symptoms of major depression and 8.4 percent with minor depressive symptoms. During follow ups over almost 10 years, 87 of them developed kidney failure, with the majority of them coming from the group with major symptoms of depression. Minor depression was not linked to an increased risk.

“This is the first study to show that major depressive symptoms are associated with a higher risk of kidney failure in patients with diabetes,” said Dr. Margaret Yu of the University of Washington in Seattle, who headed the study. “As an observational cohort study, we can only identify an association between major depressive symptoms and kidney failure; additional studies are needed to determine whether treatment of depression can reduce the risk of kidney failure.”

In addition to diabetes, depression has previously been linked to heart disease, osteoporosis and some forms of cancer, which is believed to be caused by higher levels of cytokines, which hinder the body’s ability to fight off malignant cells.

 

The study will appear in an upcoming issue of the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

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