September 17, 2014
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Mental Health

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Study: Diabetes, depression together increases death risk

Diabetes and depression amount to a deadly combination, increasing the risk of death far beyond the risk associated with either condition on its own, a study published in the journal Diabetes Care shows.

For 8 years, researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston followed more than 10,000 people who had diabetes, depression, neither condition, or both in order to see which group had the highest mortality rate. Subjects were participants in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey I Epidemiologic Follow-up Study, and all completed a standardized depression scale at the start.

Over the 8 years, 1,925 participants died, including 522 who died from heart disease. Compared to participants who had neither diabetes nor depression, those with depression alone were 20% more likely to die of any cause, while those who had diabetes alone were 88% more likely to die of any cause. But the two conditions together were a double whammy, with members of that group 150% more likely to die from any cause.

Participants with both diabetes and depression were also 143% more likely to die of heart disease than people with neither condition. Those with depression alone were 29% more likely to die of heart disease, while those with diabetes faced a 126% greater chance of dying of heart disease.

While the reason for this increased risk isn't clear, the researchers speculate that people who have diabetes and are depressed may have a harder time doing the work required to control their blood sugar - from eating a healthy diet and exercising to regularly monitoring blood sugar levels - than their non-depressed counterparts. This in turn could lead to more complications from diabetes.

Lead researcher Dr. Leonard E. Egede said the finding underscores the importance of regular depression screening for people who have diabetes, since people with diabetes have a higher-than-average rate of depression.


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