Depression Treatment Linked to Levels of Insulin Sensitivity

June 18, 2009

Among adults at risk for type 2 diabetes, individuals with untreated depression have "significantly lower" insulin sensitivity than those who are not depressed, a new study has found.

Among adults at risk for type 2 diabetes, individuals with untreated depression have “significantly lower” insulin sensitivity (Si) than those who are not depressed, a new study has found.

Researchers at the University of Connecticut found that among the adults with untreated depression, a much lower (M=1.79±0.91) Si level was seen than in the adults who were not depressed ((M=3.39±1.78; p<.05). In addition, adults who had been treated for depression were found to have a similar Si level (M=3.10±1.86: p=.63) to that of non-depressed adults.

Julie Wagner, PhD, associate professor in the Division of Behavioral Sciences and Community Health at the University of Connecticut Health Center, presented her study findings, which examined “56 obese adults at risk for type 2 diabetes and symptoms of metabolic syndrome,” at the American Diabetes Association’s 69th Scientific Sessions. The group of participants was 90% female and 53% white, with a mean age of 46 years. Individuals were put into three groups: not depressed (57%), depressed, as determined by a score of 16 or greater on the Centers for Epidemiologic Studies Depression (CESD) Scale (23%), and treated for depression (20%).

In the secondary finding of the study, the researchers found that “depression scores were inversely correlated with physical activity (r = —0.36) and insulin sensitivity (r = –0.30).” According to the researchers, physical activity “was documented using the Physical Activity subscale of the Health Promoting Lifestyle Profile 4-point scale.”

Dr. Wagner added that the results of the study may lead to new treatment strategies.

"Depressed subjects have a 37% increased risk of developing diabetes," Dr. Wagner said. “Evidence indicates that insulin resistance and depression are related. Treatment for depression in adults at risk for type 2 diabetes may improve insulin resistance. Further research is needed to determine if treatment of depression contributes to delaying or decreasing the risk for type 2 diabetes."