Anxiety Disorders Increase Hospital Visits in Type 2 Diabetes

Adults who have an anxiety disorder along with type 2 diabetes visit the emergency room more often and spend more for hospitalization than those without an anxiety disorder, according to new research in the journal Diabetes Care.

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Using data from Kaiser Permanente of Northern California, researchers looked for diagnoses of anxiety conditions such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and agoraphobia (fear of open or crowded places), along with depression, in people with type 2 diabetes.

Roughly 13% of those identified in the study were diagnosed with an anxiety condition and 53% of those with anxiety were diagnosed with depression. People with anxiety were found to visit the emergency room 37% more frequently than those without anxiety, and people with depression visited 13% more frequently than those without depression. Those with anxiety also spent an average of $5,790.45, compared to $4,105.89 for those without.

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“Anxiety disorders are serious. They cause extreme distress and harm people’s abilities to live fulfilling lives,” noted researcher Esti Iturralde, PhD, in an interview with Endocrine Today. “Anxiety causes physiological symptoms that resemble physical symptoms in diabetes — so it may cause people to overtreat or undertreat their diabetes condition. Anxiety also causes people to engage in unhelpful behaviors, such as avoiding daily diabetes management tasks, or becoming ‘burned out’ through excessive worrying or even checking their blood sugars too often.”

“Doctors who treat diabetes might miss the importance of anxiety disorders because these patients often do not appear ‘sicker’ in a medical sense — but we found that anxiety disorders contribute to problematic health care use that exposes patients to unnecessary medical risks and impacts the whole health-care system.”

Want to learn more about anxiety and depression in diabetes? Read “Diabetes Anxiety: How to Cope” and “Dealing With Diabetes and Depression.”

Diane Fennell

Diane Fennell

Senior Digital Editor for DiabetesSelfManagement.com, Fennell has 16 years’ experience specializing in diabetes and related health conditions. Based in New York City, she has a degree from Columbia University.

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