It’s estimated that about one out of four people with diabetes will deal with elevated symptoms of depression at some point in their lives. A new study from researchers at the Indiana University School of Medicine, however, indicates that exercise and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can do a lot to combat diabetes-related depression.
The subjects of the study were 140 adults who had both type 2 diabetes and major depressive disorder as determined by a clinical interview. The patients’ average age was 56 and about three out of four were women. The subjects were randomly assigned to one of four study groups — CBT alone, exercise alone, a combination of CBT and exercise, and usual diabetes care. Those who took part in the CBT-only group had ten visits with mental health care providers during which they discussed potentially depressive behaviors. Those in the exercise-only group were helped to build up to 150 minutes of moderate activity per week. The third study group had both the CBT and the exercise plans. The study lasted 12 weeks.
There was some small difference among the intervention groups: the exercise group demonstrated slightly better odds of achieving major depressive disorder remission, followed by the combination therapy group and the CBT-alone group. But considering all three intervention groups together, the researchers found that the odds of achieving remission were more than twice as high for those patients than for the patients who received only usual care.
According to lead study author Mary de Groot, PhD, the message of the new study is “good news.” As she put it, “Depression exists. It is persistent and it can be treated. And if we give it the attention that it deserves, we can make great headway that will improve our patients’ lives…. So it’s a message of hope.”
Want to learn more about managing depression with diabetes? Read “Dealing With Diabetes and Depression.”
A freelance writer and editor based in the Chicago area, Gustaitis has a degree in journalism from Columbia University.