Depression and Diabetes

Depression and Diabetes

How do You Know You Are Depressed?
The Need for Diagnosis
Depression in Parents of Children With Diabetes
GE Insulin, Hypoglycaemia and Depression
Useful Research – Depression and Diabetes


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Major depression in the UK population at any one time is about 5%, although as many as one person in three may experience an episode of depression in their lifetime. The presence of other illnesses may complicate or worsen depression and vice versa.

Research has shown that depression may occur in:

  • Up to 60% of stroke patients
  • Up to 40% of people with Parkinson’s disease
  • Up to 42% of cancer patients
  • Up to 21% of people with irritable bowel syndrome
  • Up to 14-18% of people with diabetes

A study by Brazilian researchers, presented at the American Diabetes Association Conference 1998, showed that among a group of people with diabetes those whose HbA1c levels averaged less than 9%, only 21% tested positive for depression according to the results of a standardised test. By comparison of those with HbA1cs over 9%, 42% tested positive for depression.

The researchers used cognitive therapy to reverse the depression. In those people where depression improved, there was an average HbA1c of 8.3% while those who showed little improvement had an average of 11.3%.

Other research has shown that people with chronic conditions, including diabetes, are three times more likely to suffer depression than the general population.

Research now suggests an association between higher blood glucose levels and depression which can increase the risk of diabetic complications. It is also possible that high blood sugars cause the depression rather than depression causing high blood sugars.

An international report showed that having diabetes and depression has the greatest negative on quality of life compared to diabetes or depression alone, or other chronic conditions.
[Lancet 2007;370:851-8]

Many studies highlight the need to ensure that depression does not go undiagnosed. They also highlight the need to provide children, adolescents and adults with diabetes with greater psychological support and where necessary, a psychological assessment and treatment for depression.


For more information on depression, please visit the NHS Choices website:

NHS Choices: Depression