The risk of depression in youths with diabetes — both type 1 and type 2 — is a topic that has concerned many doctors and researchers for years, especially since both types of diabetes appear to be on the rise in children and teens. But it hasn’t always been clear what factors make a young person with diabetes more likely to experience depression.
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A new study, published in the journal Pediatric Diabetes, sheds some light on the relationship between diabetes and depression in older children and young adults. Researchers screened 149 adolescents, ages 12 to 21, with either type 1 (122 participants) or type 2 (27 participants) diabetes for depression at their routine doctor appointments. On average, the youths with type 2 diabetes were significantly more likely to show signs of depression, based on a symptom score. But beyond the overall risk of depression, there were some major differences between youths with type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
The researchers found that the connection between worse overall health and a higher risk of depression was stronger in youths with type 2 diabetes, and a longer diabetes duration was tied to a higher depression risk only in those with type 2. But among youths whose overall health was good compared with other participants, those with type 1 diabetes were more likely to show signs of depression.
The researchers concluded that overall health is a significant factor in whether youths with diabetes experience depression — but more so in those with type 2 diabetes. The results suggest that the risk of depression is spread more evenly among youths with type 1 diabetes, with overall health and diabetes duration having less or no effect on depression risk.
Recommendations on screening for depression in youths with diabetes should take note of these results, along with those of other studies on the topic, according to the researchers.
A freelance health writer and editor based in Wisconsin, Phillips has a degree in government from Harvard University. He writes on a variety of topics, but is especially interested in the intersection of health and public policy.