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Updated: January 28, 2011 03:24 IST

Depression itself may be a cause of diabetes, says study

Ramya Kannan
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While it is common knowledge that having a chronic disease increases chances of depression in patients, here is evidence that indicates depression could also be a factor in causing chronic diseases such as diabetes.

A paper published in Diabetes Technology and Therapeutics, 2010, from Chennai showed higher levels of depression among those newly detected with diabetes and those with impaired glucose tolerance, as against those who had normal blood sugar levels.

Authored by S. Poongothai of Madras Diabetes Research Foundation, as part of a series of articles she worked on for her Ph.D, the paper is significant in that the tests were done in the community and the depression noted before blood sugar tests were done.

Co-author V. Mohan, who heads Dr. Mohan's Diabetes Specialities Centre, says, “What this article flags off is the idea that depression itself may be a likely cause of diabetes.”

The subjects for the study were recruited from the Chennai Urban Rural Epidemiological Study. Of the total of over 23,000 persons tested, there were 1218 people with newly- detected Diabetes (NDD), 7,657 with impaired fasting glucose (IFG); and 14, 912 with normal fasting glucose (NFG).

While the overall prevalence of depression was 14.3 per cent, an increasing prevalence was seen with increasing grades of glucose tolerance: NFG (13.1 per cent), IFG (15.7 per cent) and NDD (19.7 per cent), being higher among women at all grades.

Depression can increase the risk of diabetes due to increased levels of counter-regulatory hormones, which can lead to obesity, insulin resistance and glucose intolerance, Dr. Poonothai says in the paper. “The lesson in this is that not only should we treat diabetics for depression, but that by treating depression, the person may actually be able to side-step diabetes,” Dr. Mohan explains.

His recommendation is also that everyone with depression must be screened for diabetes as well.

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Thanks for the article. I have battled chronic fatigue/ depression & intolerance to sugar for 10 years. Would highly appreciate If anyone could get a contact of a good medical practitioner in Ahmedabad or New Delhi,

from:  Manu M
Posted on: Nov 1, 2011 at 21:52 IST

This is a good effort by the Madras Diabetic Research Foundation and even better to be publicized by 'The Hindu'. Otherwise very few good studies are able to reach the public. I would like to add that all of us should keep a watch on how much we eat (calorie intake) and then how much we exercise (Calorie expenditure). A simple equation can help us make a difference.

from:  Tarunveer Singh
Posted on: Feb 4, 2011 at 16:13 IST

What is more depressing is the fact that one in three is having impaired fasting glucose of the study conducted. i.e, 7657 out of 23,ooo subjects. And this is alarming! These are potential future diabetes pateints.Something needs to be done to change the lifestyle of the people as a whole. We are busy talking/ dealing about scams after scams. Who is going to look into this???

from:  Ramesh Kumar
Posted on: Feb 3, 2011 at 09:48 IST

I underwent depression from 1993 for 10 years. There is no history of diabetes in my family. But I developed diabetes in 1999. Doctors diagnosed it 'Stress ' induced diabetes. Therefore, depression caused diabetes in me. Dr. Poonothai 's research will help people like me in early diagnosis of diabetes.

from:  Rajiv Chaturvedi
Posted on: Feb 1, 2011 at 06:38 IST

It is true what this topic is saying,cause I have the same problem after my csection. About one week after I started off with depression but refused to use the medication as i did not want to be hooked on that. Then months after I was diagnosed with diabetes and I taught it was due to the baby or from hereditary. But thanks for this information. Now I would like to know where do we take it from here? Is there a natural remedy? I am using one 500mg methformin a day,and that is because I am not exercising. Nut when i do excerise i do not need the methformin. But is there another way of dealing with it that you know is the best way?

from:  Debbie Rooplall, Guyana
Posted on: Feb 1, 2011 at 04:31 IST

I am actually surprised that this has become a big news and it does not warrant such an attention. Those who are working in this area know that 'stress hormones' released (to cope up with stress, of course) can elevate circulating sugar level. The depression also caused by 'stress' can do the same! I think the authors are re-discovering the wheel and nothing more, though their larger point that treating depression might mitigate diabetes is well taken.

from:  Raman
Posted on: Jan 28, 2011 at 23:20 IST

It is 'depressing' for cheerful diabetics like me. No matter. I shall continue to be cheerful. Perhaps, this is the reason for my cohabitation with diabetes for nearly thirty years +. I shall continue to keep depression at bay!

from:  Soundararajan Srinivasa
Posted on: Jan 28, 2011 at 21:43 IST
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