diabetes, depression, antidepressants

Antidepressants Could Reduce Risk of Death in People with Diabetes

Could taking antidepressants allow you to live longer with diabetes and depression? In a new study, researchers followed more than 53,000 people diagnosed with both diabetes and depression in Taiwan between 2000 and 2013. Health information was gleaned from the National Health Insurance Research Database. They found that those who used antidepressants were 35 percent less likely to die prematurely.

Depression, diabetes, and mortality

The study’s lead, Professor Vincent Chin-Hung Chen, of Chiayi Chang Gung Memorial Hospital and Chang Gung University in Puzi, Taiwan, said: “The incidence of major depressive disorder amongst individuals with diabetes is significantly greater than the general population. Diabetes and depression each independently contribute to increasing total mortality.”

Especially in older adults, depression can make them less motivated to properly manage their condition, leading to severe health complications and sometimes death. 

The study was published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, a publication of  the Endocrine Society. 


Relationship between diabetes and depression

Compared to people without diabetes, those with diabetes are two to three times more likely to have depression as well. In over half the cases, the depression remains undiagnosed. Reasons for the prevalence of depression with diabetes could lie in many factors, such as:

  • Lack of physical activity
  • High stress hormones (cortisol)
  • Burden and isolation of constant blood sugar management
  • Other chronic illnesses
  • Lack of motivation to keep up with diabetes management
  • Lack of treatment for emotional aspects of diabetes
  • Physical pain from nerve damage
  • Lack of control over health

Alternatively, depression can also be caused by other factors, such as alcohol or drug abuse, thyroid problems, or side effects of medicines. See a doctor to rule out any of these factors. 

Signs of depression

Do you think you might have depression? Watch for these signs that may surface:

  • Loss of interest in activities you usually like
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Waking up early and not being able to go back to sleep
  • Changes in appetite
  • Lack of energy and frequent fatigue
  • Guilt and worry
  • Difficulty concentrating on tasks

If you have diabetes, it is advised that you get screened for each year for depression. Medicare covers depression screenings each year. Counseling, cognitive behavior therapy, physical exercise, and/or medication can help you to live a better life with diabetes and depression.