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Diabetes linked to rising rates of depression, study finds

It’s particularly prevalent among young adults

Laura Hampson
Tuesday 06 September 2022 08:52 BST

Nearly half of people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes also have depression, a new study has found.

The research, published in the journal Diabetologia, looked at GP records of 230,932 adult patients. From these records, scientists found that growing levels of type 2 diabetes can be linked to an increased rate of depression, particularly among young adults.

Data from 2017 found that 43 per cent of people with type 2 diabetes had depression, compared to 29 per cent a decade earlier.

The authors of the study have speculated that this could be because more people in their twenties and thirties are developing diabetes, as people under 40 with the condition were 50 per cent more likely to suffer depression than those diagnosed over 50.

Close to five million people in the UK have diabetes, with diagnoses doubled in the past 15 years.

According to the latest NHS data, there are 122,780 people under 40 with type 2 diabetes, but the average age to be diagnosed with it is 58.

“Our findings clearly highlight the mental health implications of developing type 2 diabetes at a young age and the importance of efforts to prevent diabetes early in life,” lead author of the study, Professor Sanjoy Paul of the University of Melbourne, said.

“The higher risk of developing depression with young-onset diabetes may be partially explained by a higher burden of other risk factors including obesity and smoking.”

​​Dr Faye Riley of the charity Diabetes UK told The Times that diabetes can cause “serious physical harm” but that that “psychological impact of living with this relentless condition is often overlooked”.

She added: “Many people with type 2 diabetes experience mental health issues, and this study reveals that depression in people with the condition is common, and rising. This study also indicates that younger people with type 2 diabetes, who often experience a more severe form of the condition, have a greater risk of developing depression compared to those diagnosed later in life.

“With type 2 diabetes on the rise, further research must urgently focus on ways to reduce the risk of depression in people with the condition, to ensure that they receive the support needed to live well. This research also serves as a reminder that healthcare professionals should be alert to the symptoms of depression in people with type 2 diabetes, particularly in those diagnosed at a younger age.”

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