Diabetes Forecast

Depression Hinders Diabetes Medication Management


What to Know

For many people with type 2 diabetes, healthy living changes, such as eating nutritious calories—but not too much—and exercise, are not enough to control blood glucose levels. People often need medication to keep blood glucose levels on target and reduce the risk of complications such as heart disease, vision problems, and nerve pain. Such medications work best when taken as prescribed, but those who take them often don't use them properly, for a variety of reasons. This study examined one potential cause: depression. People with type 2 diabetes have a 25 percent higher risk of depression than those without the disease. What impact, the study authors ask, does depression have on taking diabetes medications?

The Study

Canadian researchers examined the health records of 3,106 people with type 2 diabetes. Just over half were female. In order to be eligible for the study, the participants needed to meet two main criteria: Each had to have been prescribed a diabetes medication for the first time during the study period of 2000 through 2006, and they must have subsequently received a diagnosis of depression. The participants’ average age at the time of that diagnosis was 67. Nearly three quarters of them took metformin, generally the first medication doctors prescribe to manage blood glucose.

The Results

Once they'd been diagnosed with depression, only 48 percent of the participants continued to take their medications as prescribed at least 90 percent of the time. Before that diagnosis, 53 percent of the group took their medicine as directed. Participants over the age of 44, as well as those who already had diabetes complications, were more likely to stick to their medication schedule.


If you develop depression, you may be less likely to stick to your diabetes medication schedule, which significantly raises your risk for serious diabetes complications. In fact, depression gets in the way of diabetes self-care overall, making people less likely to eat well or exercise, for example. Talk to your doctor if you have persistent feelings of sadness, loss of interest in things that previously engaged you, trouble sleeping, lack of energy, or other symptoms of depression. Treat your depression, the author says, and you’ll be much more likely to take your diabetes medication. You could also see significant improvements in blood glucose levels. To help you manage diabetes over months and years, build a relationship with a health care provider, if possible. Doing so also may help you better follow your diabetes treatment plan, the study suggests.

Factors associated with antidiabetic medication non-adherence in patients with incident comorbid depression.” Carlotta Lunghi, Arsène Zongo, Jocelyne Moisan, Jean-Pierre Grégoire, Line Guénette. Journal of Diabetes and Its Complications, 2017 July; 31 (7): 1200—1206

The information on this screen does not take the place of care from your doctor or other health care provider. If you have general questions about diabetes or diabetes-related research, e-mail askada@diabetes.org or call 1-800-DIABETES (800-342-2382).



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