Prior Depression Linked to Gestational Diabetes

Women with a history of depression could be more likely to develop gestational diabetes according to the results of a recent study.

According to recent research, depression could play a role in determining whether pregnant women also develop diabetes.

The research, published in the Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, & Neonatal Nursing, was conducted by a team from the Loyola University of Chicago Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing.

A press release about the research said that 135 pregnant women were screened for depression over the course of the study. Of that group, 65 were diagnosed with gestational diabetes. The release noted that that group was 3.79 times more likely to have a history of depression than those who did not have diabetes as well. Further results showed that 20% of women with gestational diabetes, and 13% of women without, had “significant symptoms of depression.” Factors such as anxiety and perceived stress were “significant predictive factors of depression for both groups.”

Mary Byrn, PhD, RN, a co-author and assistant professor at the school, said the results showed how important it is for women with depression to be aware of the possible link between the two conditions. “Healthcare providers also should know and understand the prevalence and symptoms of prenatal depression and gestational diabetes and screen and manage these women appropriately,” she said.

While this research and previous studies have shown a connection between diabetes and depression, the authors noted that making a firm link between the two is “complex.” In older studies it was thought that the depression developed “due to the demands of living with a chronic illness.”

In recent years that thinking has begun to change with researchers now pointing toward depression being a cause for type 2 diabetes. As a result, the authors argue that if depression is a health concern it becomes more important to check for gestational diabetes.

Co-author Sue Penckofer, PhD, RN, added, “Depression may also contribute to the poor self-management of gestational diabetes and potentially increase the chance for complications during pregnancy.”

“We must further explore explore the relationship between diabetes and depression to help understand and improve prenatal care and outcomes for women and infants,” she concluded.”