Metformin treatment may help prevent depression in people with type 2 diabetes, according to new research.
Diabetes is believed to significantly increase the risk of mood disorders such as depression. But researchers in Taiwan say this risk falls by more than 50 per cent in patients who use metformin to manage their condition.
The researchers from Monash University and the National Health Research Institutes Taiwan conducted a large 12-year study based on a Taiwanese adult population cohort.
They found that people with type 2 diabetes who took metformin were less likely to develop mood disorders, as well as dementia and Parkinson’s disease, particularly if used in combination with a sulfonylurea – another commonly used type 2 diabetes drug.
Lead author of the study, Professor Mark Wahlqvist from Monash University’s Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine and the Monash Asia Institute: “In earlier research we found that dementia and Parkinson’s disease, the most common forms of known neurodegenerative disease, are more likely after the onset of diabetes.
“The same appears to be so for mood disorders including all forms of depression. We found depression and diabetes are more likely to occur together than would be expected from their respective separate prevalences.
“It is possible that neurodegenerative processes are at work in diabetes-associated depression and that the use of metformin may minimise this risk.”
He added: “As the global burden of diabetes to health care systems increases, these findings may be relevant to the reduction of mental health complications associated with diabetes.”
The research appears online in the medical journal BMC Medicine .

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