Does living with diabetes cause an increased prevalence of depression? Recent studies on the prevalence of depression in adults and adolescents with diabetes suggest that this may be the case. In a study published in Diabetes Care (December, 1993), the prevalence of psychiatric disorders among adolescents with diabetes was found to be 33.3% higher than in the non-diabetic control group, and that adolescents with diabetes in the study suffered from “significantly more introversive symptoms,…especially somatic symptoms, sleeping disturbances, compulsions, and depressive moods.”
In commentary on the results of this study and a forthcoming study on the prevalence of depression in adults with diabetes, Dr. Alan Jacobson, from the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston describes the implications of these findings (Diabetes Care, December, 1993). He points out that depression in people with diabetes may worsen glycemic control or, alternately, poor glycemic control may be a factor in the development of depression. He suggests that a bi-directional relationship exists between them, with each affecting the other in a reciprocal fashion.
However, he also states that the prevalence of depression in people with diabetes may not be specific to diabetes, but may be due to the generic effect of the increased stress of living with a chronic illness. He concludes stating that, “diabetic patients, like patients with other chronic medical illnesses, are at increased risk for developing depressive disorders,” and points to the importance of developing clear methods of identifying depression for all medical clinicians who treat people with diabetes.