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Depression Combined With Metabolic Syndrome May Contribute to Diabetes Risk

Previous studies have found that depression may contribute to a higher risk of type-2 diabetes, but the exact link between the two was not clear. Now, a recent study suggests that depression may compound the risk of developing type-2 diabetes in people with early warning signs of metabolic syndrome.


Metabolic syndrome is a group of risk factors that raise the risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke and other diseases.  These risk factors include central obesity, hypertension, and disturbed glucose and insulin metabolism.


Participants in the study included 2,525 people between the ages of 40 and 69 who lived in Quebec. The researchers evaluated depression, metabolic syndrome symptoms, and type-2 diabetes status at the beginning of the study and after 4.5 years.


The participants were placed into four different categories based on their initial assessments: Category 1 - people with depression and three or more metabolic risk factors;


Category 2 - people with only depression;


Category 3 - people with only metabolic risk factors;


Category 4 - a control group composed of people with neither metabolic risk factors nor depression.


At the conclusion of the study, the researchers found that people with depression only were not at a significantly higher risk of developing type-2 diabetes compared to those in the control group. The group with metabolic symptoms only was four times as likely to develop diabetes as the control group. The group with both depression and metabolic symptoms was six times as likely to develop type-2 diabetes compared to the control group.


The researchers suggest that the combination of depression and metabolic risk factors may create a viscous cycle of aggravating each other. They highlighted the fact that people with depression are less likely to follow medical advice — such as exercising more, eating better, and quitting smoking — which could aggravate their metabolic symptoms. Additionally, some forms of depression are associated with changes in the body’s metabolic systems which can result in weight gain, high blood pressure and glucose metabolism issues.


Researchers from McGill University, the Institut de recherches cliniques de Montreal, the University of Calgary, and the University of Montreal conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on February 23, 2016, in Molecular Psychiatry.

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