The good news

While depression may increase your diabetes risk, lifestyle factors remain a more significant influence and can counteract that risk. A Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) study backs this up: Individuals with depression were found to be 42 percent more likely to develop type 2 diabetes in three years than people who were not depressed—but the increased risk was no longer statistically significant after factoring in for healthy lifestyle (diet, physical activity, smoking status and alcohol use). So if you have depression, adopting or maintaining healthy habits may keep diabetes at bay.

As for depression that was likely brought on by diabetes, standard treatments for depression, such as antidepressants, psychotherapy and exercise, can help. Although exercise alone probably won't be enough to fix either condition completely, it can help improve both mood and blood glucose levels.

Psychotherapy works well for mild to moderate depression and has been shown to have a positive effect on blood glucose levels as well. For moderate to severe depression, antidepressants may work more quickly than psychotherapy, although a combination of the two is most often best. Your primary care physician or a psychiatrist can determine which medication is best for you.

If you have diabetes, be sure to ask about side effects that could impact your disease, such as weight gain or any effects the drug may have on your blood glucose level. To find a mental health professional with experience treating individuals with diabetes, contact your local chapter of the American Diabetes Association ( They may be able to refer you to mental health professionals in your area.

Publication Review By: Karen L. Swartz, M.D.

Published: 21 Aug 2013

Last Modified: 21 Aug 2013