A study carried out by Massachusetts General Hospital shows that cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is associated with improvements in blood glucose control within patients that have depression as well as type 2 diabetes.
Diabetes can be a difficult condition to accept and learn to control. Having depression, in addition, poses a further challenge and can hamper patients’ attempts to adequately manage their diabetes.
Poor management of diabetes can lead to increased negative feeling which can further exacerbate symptoms of depression. The study carried out by the Massachusetts researchers is an attempt to break the vicious circle.
In the study, 87 participants were split into two groups. The participants all had type 2 diabetes depression and had higher than recommended blood glucose levels. Both groups tested blood glucose levels and had targets set that included blood glucose levels, dietary and exercise goals.
Around half of the participants, 45 patients, were also given weekly sessions of cognitive behavioural therapy which included help with coping with depression and also included setting strategies to meet the treatment goals.
When the participants were reviewed after 4 months, the group receiving CBT showed a significant drop in average blood glucose that was comparable to the reduction in blood glucose levels that would be observed in patients taking a weaker class of diabetes medication.
The CBT group were better able to adhere to regularly taking their medication and blood glucose tests than the group that had not received CBT. The improvements in blood glucose levels and treatment adherence were also maintained after 8 and 12 months.

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