CBT Reduces A1C in Type 2 Diabetes: Study

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapy originally developed to relieve depression. It helps patients become aware of faulty or negative thinking and then teaches skills to change these dysfunctional thought patterns. Since it was developed some 50 years ago, its use has been expanded to many other areas, such as addiction, phobias and weight loss. Now, according to a new study published in the journal Diabetes Care, CBT might have a role to play in the treatment of diabetes.

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According to Doyle Cummings, PharmD, one of the authors, “Prior literature suggests that comorbid behavioral problems such as depression or diabetes-related distress symptoms are common…. New care strategies are needed for busy primary care setting where Type 2 diabetes is most commonly managed.”

For their study, the researchers recruited 139 adults with diabetes who also showed signs of depressive symptoms. About three-quarters were women and the average age was about 53. The subjects were randomly assigned to one of two groups — a standard care group and an intervention group. Depending on the severity of their depression, the subjects in the intervention group received either “small-changes lifestyle coaching” or CBT. CBT included 12 sessions that emphasized reducing depression and improving diabetes management. The study lasted 12 months.

After the research period ended, the researchers found that HbA1c levels had dropped by an average of 0.92 percent in the intervention group compared to 0.31 percent in the standard care group. Although this was encouraging, it was not considered statistically significant. However, the intervention group did show meaningful declines in depressive symptoms and distress, while also showing increases in adherence to medication and in what the researchers called “self-care behaviors.”

The researchers concluded “…these findings emphasize the need for a more integrated approach involving providers from multiple disciplines as well as [community health workers],” a statement that indicates how the study was aimed at health-care professionals. But even though that was the case, there’s no reason a person with diabetes can’t learn from it. Perhaps when diabetes is accompanied by depression, it’s worth asking a health-care provider if some form of psychological therapy might be beneficial.

Want to learn more about recent Type 2 diabetes research? Read “Study Links Type 2 Diabetes to Cognitive Decline,” “Migraines May Lower Type 2 Diabetes Risk” and “Arthritis Drug for Blood Sugar Control?”

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