The potential for a direct relationship between diabetes and depression have been part of over 40 studies also considering factors such as lifestyle habits, genetics and more. Few if any of those studies look exclusively at women’s health.
Women account for about 60% of the diabetic population according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Women having diabetes die of heart disease more often of anything else, and depression can increase chances of complications and death with many illnesses.
Harvard School of Public Health’s Frank Hu, MD, PhD and colleagues began exploring the idea of a possible link between diabetes and depression in 1996. They followed over fifty-five thousand women from age 50 to 75 with varying degrees of diabetes or depression through 2006. They may have found a disease sisterhood in women, according to the report by Medpage journalist Michael Smith on November 22, 2010, through Frank Hu, MD. PhD and colleague’s Harvard press release.
What Did Researchers Find?
For diabetes leading to depression, over 20% of women diagnosed with diabetes but did not need medications developed depression. Interestingly, up to around 50% of women with type 2 diabetes dependent upon medications such as insulin suffered more from depression.
During the ten years regarding depression leading to diabetes, they found nearly 20% of women with depression became diabetic who did not need anti-depressant medicine. There were nearly 25% of depressed women taking anti-depressant medication who developed diabetes.
The study is still just a potential move toward better preventative health care for women. The study’s good point is that it brings some of the differences in women’s health screenings that should be for these and potentially other illnesses as well. The study’s bad point is that it included more women of White ethnicity than any other. Diabetes affects many more Black, Hispanic, and Native American women than it does White women, so there is great benefit potential in studies with other focus.
What Does This Mean to Me?
Women of all ages and ethnicities who are diagnosed with depression should not be shy about speaking with their health care providers about a regular screening for developing diabetes, and those with diabetes need to do the same self-advocacy for making sure they are regularly screened for developing depression. The frequency in which the testing is done will depend upon factors the patient and doctor will decide together. If medical insurance is involved, that may also determine what screenings and how often they can take place.
This article is for informational purposes only and does not replace professional, licensed medical consultation.
Diabetes Public Health Resource, CDC, http://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/projects/women.htm
Depression Statistics, http://www.indepression.com/depression-statistics.html
Depression and Diabetes, Medpage Today, http://www.medpagetoday.com/Psychiatry/Depression/23564
Women’s Health Matters, http://www.womenshealthmatters.ca/news/news_show.cfm?number=990461206&theyear=2010
Know the Risk Factors, Priority Health, http://www.priorityhealth.com/healthwellness/conditions/risk
Diabetes and Depression in Older Women, Diabetes Voice Organization, http://www.diabetesvoice.org/en/articles/diabetes-and-depression-in-older-women-double-the-risk-double-the-burden