Patients with depression, diabetes at greater risk for dementia

People with diabetes and depression together are more likely to develop dementia compared with patients who have diabetes alone, according to a study published in the December 2011 issue of Archives of General Psychiatry.

Researchers found that patients with both depression and type 2 diabetes had more than twice the rate of dementia diagnoses than patients with diabetes alone. The study included over 19,000 patients with type 2 diabetes aged 30 to 75 years over a three- to five-year period.

Dementia is a loss of brain function that interferes with daily living. It causes problems with memory, thinking, behavior, language and judgment. Most types of dementia occur with certain diseases and are irreversible, according to the National Institutes of Health. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia.

“Although depression is a risk factor for dementia in the general population, its association with dementia among patients with diabetes mellitus has not been well studied,” according to the article authored by researchers from the University of Washington, Kaiser Permanente, and the University of Chicago.

Link between diabetes and depression
People with diabetes are at greater risk for depression than people without diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association.

Managing diabetes daily requires commitment, extra effort and continual monitoring. As a result, people living with diabetes can experience stress and isolation. Difficulty maintaining blood glucose target levels, as well as complications that develop from the disease, can cause frustration and sadness as well.

Poor diabetes management can cause symptoms that look like depression, according to the American Diabetes Association. High or low blood sugar can cause fatigue or anxiety. Low blood sugar can cause hunger, overeating and sleeplessness. High blood sugar may cause excessive urination during the night and feeling tired during the day.

Common symptoms of depression include loss of pleasure, change in sleep patterns, change in appetite, trouble concentrating, loss of energy, anxiety, guilt, morning sadness, and suicidal thoughts.

American Diabetes Association recommends getting help if people experience three or more of these symptoms, or one or two symptoms for at least two weeks.

Sources: Archives of General Psychiatry, American Diabetes Association, National Institutes of Health

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