How depression may compound risk of type 2 diabetes

April, 2016

A number of studies have pointed to a link between depression and type 2 diabetes, but a new study indicates that this is not as straightforward as it seemed. The large Canadian study involving 2,525 adults aged 40-69 has found that it is not depression alone that increases the risk of developing diabetes, but depression in conjunction with metabolic risk factors such as obesity, high blood pressure and unhealthy cholesterol levels,.

The study found that those with metabolic symptoms but not depression were around four times more likely to develop diabetes than normally healthy people, while those with both depression and metabolic risk factors were more than six times more likely to develop diabetes. The combined effect of depression and metabolic symptoms was greater than the sum of the individual effects. But those with depression alone had no more risk than normally healthy people.

There are probably two main causes for this effect. One is that, as evidence shows, people suffering from depression are less likely to adhere to medical advice aimed at tackling metabolic symptoms. This makes the metabolic symptoms worse, which can exacerbate the symptoms of depression, and so it goes, in a horrible negative cycle.

The second reason is that some forms of depression are associated with changes in the body's metabolic systems which can lead to weight gain, high blood pressure and problems with glucose metabolism. Some antidepressant medications can also cause weight gain.

Schmitz, N., Deschenes, S. S., Burns, R. J., Smith, K. J., Lesage, A., Strychar, I., … Wang, J. L. (2016). Depression and risk of type 2 diabetes: the potential role of metabolic factors. Mol Psychiatry. Retrieved from

Related News

A review of 34 longitudinal studies, involving 71,244 older adults, has concluded that depression is associated with greater cognitive decline.

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) occurs when a person's breathing is interrupted during sleep.

People with OSA are known to suffer memory problems and also have higher rates of depression.

Previous research has indicated that about a quarter of older adults who become mildly depressed will go on to become seriously depressed within a year or two.

Problems with myelin — demyelination (seen most dramatically in MS, but also in other forms of neurodegeneration, including normal aging an

Sometime ago, I reported on a study showing that older adults could improve their memory for a future task (remembering to regularly test their blood sugar) by picturing themselves going through the process.

We know that people with depression tend to focus on, and remember, negative memories rather than positive. Interestingly, it’s not simply an emotion effect.

I have reported previously on research suggesting that rapamycin, a bacterial product first isolated from soil on Easter Island and used to help transplant patients prevent organ rejection, might improve learning and memory.

The study involved 104 healthy older adults (average age 87) participating in the Oregon Brain Aging Study.

In the last five years, three studies have linked lower neighborhood socioeconomic status to lower cognitive function in older adults. Neighborhood has also been linked to self-rated health, cardiovascular disease, and mortality.

Following several recent studies pointing to the negative effect of air pollution on children’s cognitive performance (see this April 2010 news report and


Subscribe to Latest newsSubscribe to Latest newsSubscribe to Latest health newsSubscribe to Latest news