New study finds link between depression and type 2 diabetes
Experts speculate that the burden of living with type 2 diabetes may contribute to the development of depression.
A recent study has revealed a direct link between depression and the development of type 2 diabetes, suggesting that depression may be a contributing cause of the disease.
This finding has led experts to advocate for depression to be recognized as a risk factor for type 2 diabetes, akin to factors like obesity, inactivity, and family history.
The researchers recommend that individuals with a history of depression undergo assessments to determine their risk of developing type 2 diabetes, enabling targeted support to prevent the condition.
Dr Elizabeth Robertson, the director of research at Diabetes UK, which funded the study, told The Guardian, "This study gives us greater insight into why and indicates that depression should now be considered a risk factor for type 2. This knowledge could help healthcare professionals to improve care and support for people with a history of depression and prevent more cases of type 2 diabetes."
Using data from the UK and Finland, involving hundreds of thousands of individuals (including 19,000 with type 2 diabetes, 5,000 with diagnosed depression, and 153,000 self-reporting depression), the study employed Mendelian randomization to analyze genetic and health data.
The research discovered that just 36.5% of the link between depression and type 2 diabetes could be attributed to obesity, despite the known association between obesity and type 2 diabetes.
The study also identified seven shared genetic variants between type 2 diabetes and depression, indicating that these genes influence insulin secretion and inflammation in various bodily tissues, potentially explaining how depression increases the risk of type 2 diabetes.
While the study did not establish a direct causal link between diabetes and depression, experts speculate that the burden of living with type 2 diabetes may contribute to the development of depression.
"We strongly encourage anyone with depression to know their risk of type 2 diabetes by completing Diabetes UK’s free online know your risk tool, so they can get the right support to reduce their risk and avoid type 2 diabetes," said Robertson.
Prof Inga Prokopenko, of the University of Surrey, who led the study, told The Guardian, "Our discovery illuminates depression as a contributing cause of type 2 diabetes and could help to improve prevention efforts."
"The findings are important for both individuals living with the conditions and healthcare providers, who should consider implementing additional examinations to help prevent type 2 diabetes onset in people suffering from depression."