Depression can play a direct role in the development of type 2 diabetes, according to the findings of a new research funded by Diabetes UK. The study looked at the cause-and-effect relationship between the two conditions. The researchers found that people with a history of depression should be assessed for their risk of type 2 diabetes. This can help them to avoid developing the condition.
According to previous research, we know that people with type 2 diabetes are around twice as likely to experience depression compared to those without diabetes. Similarly, people with depression have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. However, it wasn’t yet clear if depression caused type 2, or vice versa or whether there were other factors responsible for the link between these two conditions.
The study, led by Professor Inga Prokopenko from the University of Surrey, used genetic data from hundreds of thousands of people in the UK and Finland. They used a statistical method called Mendelian randomisation to analyze genetic and health information and determine whether type 2 diabetes and depression can cause the development of the other, noted Diabetes UK.
The findings revealed for the first time that depression directly causes an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. They also showed that higher body weight partly, but not wholly, explained the effects of depression on type 2 diabetes. The researchers also noted seven genetic variants that contribute to both type 2 diabetes and depression. The researchers didn’t find any evidence yet of a cause-and-effect relationship of type 2 diabetes on the development of depression.
However, both are affected by common risk factors such as obesity and low levels of physical activity. The relentless day-to-day burden of living with type 2 diabetes can also be a factor in development of depression. Dr Elizabeth Robertson, Director of Research at Diabetes UK, said, “This knowledge could help healthcare professionals to improve care and support for people with a history of depression and prevent more cases of type 2 diabetes.