Depression predicts glycaemia and complications in adults with type 1 diabetes

ACBRD research highlights the relationship between depression, glycaemia, complications and diabetes self-care

By Sarah Manallack

Research shows that depression and anxiety are common among people with diabetes overall. Depression is linked with lower diabetes self-care. Depression and anxiety are linked with higher HbA1c (average glucose levels). But there is little research about this among people with type 1 diabetes.

Dr Andreas Schmitt (Germany) has published an analysis of the Diabetes MILES study in the Journal of Affective Disorders. It looks at the impact of depressive and anxiety symptoms on:

    1. diabetes self-care: diet, physical activity, checking glucose levels, and taking insulin,
    2. HbA1c,
    3. complications of diabetes: damage to the eyes, nerves and kidneys, heart disease, stroke, or reduced blood flow to limbs.

In total, 205 adults with type 1 diabetes took part in both the 2011 and 2015 surveys. They self-reported depressive and anxiety symptoms, HbA1c, diabetes self-care, and complications.

The results show that people with higher depressive symptoms in 2011 had:

    • lower diabetes self-care four years later
    • higher HbA1c four years later, via diabetes self-care.

There were no associations between:

    • depressive or anxiety symptoms and diabetes complications
    • anxiety symptoms and HbA1c or diabetes self-care.

This study shows the impact over time of earlier depressive symptoms among adults with type 1 diabetes. The findings suggest that treating depressive symptoms could also improve diabetes self-care and HbA1c. The study was limited by the use of self-reported clinical data. It was also limited by the lack of data on baseline HbA1c and duration of diabetes complications. Further research is needed to examine the impact of depressive symptoms on HbA1c and complications among adults with type 1 diabetes.

To read more of our research on mental health click here.

To read more findings from the Diabetes MILES studies click here.

Reference: Schmitt A, McSharry J, Speight J, Holmes-Truscott E, Hendrieckx C, Skinner T, Pouwer F, Byrne M. Symptoms of depression and anxiety in adults with type 1 diabetes: Associations with self-care behaviour, glycaemia and incident complications over four years – Results from diabetes MILES-Australia. Journal of Affective Disorders, 2021; 282: 803-811.

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