Treating depression in people with diabetes is associated with a 35 per cent reduced risk of death in people with diabetes, a large study in Taiwan has found.

It is already known that people with diabetes are up to three times more likely to be depressed when compared to those who do not have it.

With this in mind, a Taiwanese team wanted to look at how effective medicating depression might be in reducing mortality, which is people’s chances of dying.

The study’s corresponding author, Professor Vincent Chin-Hung Che, of Chiayi Chang Gung Memorial Hospital and Chang Gung University in Puzi, Taiwa, said: “The incidence of major depressive disorder amongst individuals with diabetes is significantly greater than the general population. Diabetes and depression each independently contribute to increasing total mortality.”

Using a national health insurance database, the researchers were able to access the health data of more than 53,000 people who had been diagnosed with both diabetes and depression since 2000.

Those people were then monitored until 2013 to see what medication they had been given and whether it impacted the death rate. Their findings suggested that the drugs, as a whole, reduced the mortality rate by 35 per cent.

Individually, most of the antidepressants studied, including SSRIs, SNRIs, NDRIs, mirtazapine, and tricyclic and tetracyclic antidepressants, were associated with reduced mortality. However, one antidepressant known as RIMA was associated with increased mortality.

One limitation of the study is that 50,000 of the people studied were using antidepressants, whereas only 3,000 were not, and this could potentially skew the results somewhat. It is also worth noting that while the study shows a link between antidepressants and reduced death rate, it does not prove that they cause it.

Professor Chen noted: “This data provides further rationale for the screening and treating of depression in persons who have diabetes”.

Depressio, in anyone, can seriously impact their health and wellbeing. But in people with diabetes, it may also affect their motivation to manage their condition correctly. If blood glucose levels are not controlled, this can lead to serious diabetes-related complications, and this may be particularly true in older people.

Depression is the most common psychiatric disorder witnessed in the diabetes community. However, with the right support and treatment it is possible to manage both conditions effectively.

The findings of this study were published in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

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