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metformin, depression, diabetes, type 2 diabetes

Can Metformin be Used to Treat Depression?

Statistics say that those with diabetes are two to three times more likely to have depression. One common diabetes drug, metformin, could help alleviate the depression and anxiety of those who use it to manage their blood sugar levels.

Why is depression so common with diabetes?

Why does depression so regularly occur with diabetes? It could be because the levels of serotonin in the brain are affected by insulin resistance. Insulin resistance occurs when the body can no longer process glucose properly, leading to blood sugar levels that are too high. People with depression also have higher levels of inflammation due to prolonged elevated blood sugar levels.

Studies have shown a strong relationship between insulin resistance, depression, reward-seeking behavior, obesity, and diabetes. In addition to depression, other cognitive functions can be impaired with diabetes, such as memory.

Since diabetes and depression are so closely related, it’s important to get screened for depression if you have diabetes, and for diabetes if you have depression.

New study on metformin

Metformin works by stimulating the beta cells to produce more insulin. But it could also do more.

A new study in mice has shown the effectiveness of metformin against depression. Scientists at the University of Toulouse in France studied male mice who had been overfed and developed insulin resistance. Their findings showed that metformin reduced anxiety in these mice by boosting serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin is sometimes called the “happiness hormone” due to its role in regulating emotions.

A previous study performed in Taiwan in 2012 showed that taking metformin for diabetes reduced mood disorders by 50 percent.

More trials are needed to solidify the causality and prove that metformin is an effective treatment for depression with diabetes.

Other ways to reduce depression

Other diabetes drugs that can possibly be helpful in alleviating depression symptoms include:

  • Liraglutide
  • Intranasal insulin
  • Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma agonists

In addition, there are other proven treatments for depression. Depression treatments that may be successful are:

  • Cognitive behavior therapy
  • Physical exercise
  • Antidepressants/mood stabilizers

See your doctor to go over your options. A drug that works well for one person might not work well for another. Always consult a doctor before going off a medication, and come up with a plan for tapering off slowly.