Discoveries in Diabetes, Depression, and Dementia

By Shelly Hwang

Diabetes, Depression, and Dementia are three of the most common medical conditions among Americans today. A recent study released on March 5 by a group of researchers at the University of Washington (UW) revealed that depression in diabetic patients doubles the risk of developing dementia, a finding that may affect the way that depression is screened and treated in order to prevent the development of other diseases.

Dementia is the gradual loss of cognitive and reasoning abilities, including memory loss, wandering, inability to do basic math, and forgetting familiar things or people.  Depression is a mental disorder marked by low mood and poor concentration. Diabetes is a medical condition in which a person has a high blood sugar level. While both diabetes and major depression have been shown to be separate risk factors for dementia, the effect of both diabetes and depression on dementia has not been studied. It turns out that adults with both conditions are twice as likely to develop dementia, compared with adults with only diabetes.

This project, led by Dr. Wayne Katon, a professor of psychiatry and behavior sciences at UW, is a part of the Pathways Epidemiological Follow-Up study, which examines adults from the Group Health Cooperative’s diabetes registry. Patients from nine clinics in western Washington State were studied for five years. 163 of 3,382 (4.8%) patients with diabetes alone developed dementia, while 36 of 455 (7.9%) of the diabetes patients with major depression were diagnosed with dementia. This presents a 2.7 fold increase of dementia in diabetic patients with depression.

Depression is common among individuals with diabetes. Previous studies found depression increases mortality rate among diabetes patients, in addition to health complications. However, the way the two diseases interact is unknown. Perhaps they interact by genetics, increasing stress levels, or resulting in unhealthy behaviors such as smoking, lack of exercise, and over-eating, which raise the risk of dementia. Diabetes is a known risk factor for dementia because it causes blood vessel problems, tissue damage, and increased blood sugar levels, which all increase odds of developing dementia. Although the link between depression, diabetes, and dementia is still not understood, it is useful for doctors to screen and treat for depression as a preventive measure against the development of cognitive deficits or dementia in diabetic patients.

Original Press Release

VA Puget Sound Health Care System Clinical Research Unit

Info on Dementia

29 thoughts on “Discoveries in Diabetes, Depression, and Dementia”

  1. I wonder how long an individual has to be depressed before it becomes a risk factor for dementia?

  2. I suffered from depression as a young adult and now I have type 2 diabetes, I guess that means I’ve had two of the three most common medical problems

  3. If you are having depression problems, take a few minutes and check out this website: This website was made to help those with depression problems. Included on the website is advice to deal with stress and help boost self motivation. There are also tips on how to lose weight gained from depression.

  4. I have been involved with helping people cure thier depression easily for over 15 years but never would i have thought that diabetes would be a higher risk for people with depression. Guess anything that cause swings in blood sugar levels does not help over the long term. Hopefully more people will seek help for thier depression as a safty measure against diabetes and dementia. I have a friend whos dad has dementia and it is horrible to se what it is doing to his mum.

  5. This is very true that diabetes, depression, and dementia are the most common disease that Americans are suffering. But we can still refrain from having this diseases since it has stated above what are the cause of this. Thanks for sharing as some of your thoughts buddy.

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  7. I had a friend with diabetes who also suffered from depression. I will forward this article on to him so he can be on the watch for any signs of dementia.

  8. Diabetes, dementia, and depression all three could interact together depression and dementia could cause a person to load up on unhealthy foods that cause diabetes.

  9. As a diabetic myself I am aware of the negative side of the condition, its a thing you live with 24/7 365 days a year without a day off, its tough and it can get to you at time, but I keep reminding myself, its better to live this way then to well, drop dead! 🙂 if this is what I need to do to stay a live then so be it, therefore it clearly could be worse.. thanks for the article, I’m grateful to people like yourself bringing these issues to our attention… Ross

  10. While searching for blogs on How To Lose Weight I’ve stumbled upon your Discoveries in Diabetes, Depression, and Dementia – I read it because I am also a diabetic with two years now and take precose to control it but still find it a hard time to lose the weight while trying to stay away from junk foods. For millions of people, being overweight is much more of a headache when trying to control your sugar level. I hope to lose the weight I need to and help others to lose weight fast at the same time. Thanks for sharing.

  11. Depression is not generally listed as a complication of diabetes. However, it can be one of the most common and dangerous complications. The rate of depression in diabetics is much higher than in the general population. Diabetics with major depression have a very high rate of recurrent depressive episodes within the following five years.

  12. If you are having problems with depression , then please take a few minutes and check out this website: The website was made to help those of you with depression problems and also those who have close freinds or family members who suffer from depression. The information concentrates mainly on natural cures for depression. All simple, straightforward and above all safe cures for depression. I am sure you will find it a great help.

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  14. Dear Blogs,
    Thanks for the info, Lots of individuals diagnosed with form 2 diabetes are unaware of the everyday living-threatening problems that accompany this condition. For most, it simply would mean that not currently being capable to consume cookies or drink typical soda any longer. Acquiring variety two diabetes would mean that quite a bit further than that. It can necessarily mean your daily life.
    BTW great blogpost

  15. I live with someone who was diagnosed as bi-polar so I can somewhat identify here.

    Studies have shown that what we eat can affect our moods. I did not know that depression and Dementia were linked.

    Controlling blood sugars can help with a lot of things.

  16. Thing is, its a double edge sword. The mind effects your body, but your body effects your mind. A postive mental attitude goes a long way in creating a healthy body. Its a chicken and egg thing really. Which comes first?

  17. I just felt that it should be put on here that exercise won’t make diabetes go away. It is also a hereditary disease. So assuming that if a diabetic would exercise it would make all their problems go away is foolish. I’m in a study for diabetes and everyone that works for the study also has diabetes. We range from a size 0 up to sizes 20+. You shouldn’t say things in that manner cause in some cases the person has no control over having the disease. I have been overweight my entire life yet all of my lab work, blood pressure, and sugars have always been great. I was diagnosed at 17 and I thought it was the end of the world. I have changed my eating habits some, not a lot, but my lab work all remains tremendous, yes I’m still overweight but my doctors don’t have an issue with it. I definitely agree about the link in diabetes and depression, I’ve had depression since I was 12 years old.

  18. The key to a happy body is a happy mind, I know thats obvious but more attention needs to be placed on the reason behind the unhappiness, but just the cure. We all need to take notice and relax a little more, learn to love and enjoy life! We only get one shot so lets make the most of it 🙂

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