Group Therapy Helps Ease Depression for Type 2 DiabeticsType 2 diabetes, which affects many bodily organs and is often characterized by a lack of energy and depression, is on the rise in many areas of the United States. New research shows that gender-specific group therapy is effective for treating depressed women with the condition.

“Using antidepressants to treat depression, although important, can be associated with side effects that make compliance an issue for people with diabetes or those at risk for diabetes,” said Sue Penckofer, Ph.D., R.N., study co-author, professor and faculty scholar at Loyola University Chicago.

“This makes other options, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), increasingly important for diabetics with depression.”

Depression is present in 25 percent of people with Type 2 diabetes and it occurs twice as often in women than men with the disease.

In the current study, researchers evaluated women with significantly elevated depressive symptoms.

As a part of the study design, approximately half of the participants received a nurse-delivered group therapy program called SWEEP and the other half received routine care. SWEEP is a form of group therapy based on cognitive-behavioral principles developed for women with Type 2 diabetes. Regular contact with a physician and clinic staff also was available to both groups.

Researchers say this is the first cognitive-behavioral therapy program to treat symptoms in depressed women in a group setting and to demonstrate an improvement in depression and other emotions.

Group therapy participants learned how blood sugar affects the symptoms of depression, anxiety and anger. They also were taught how to recognize signs of stress and how to think differently and identify other methods to decrease negative thoughts, improve self-care behaviors and communicate effectively.

Researchers discovered the intervention reduced depression among the study group significantly more than the group that received routine care.

“Additional work needs to be done to develop treatment options that address the emotional needs of people with Type 2 diabetes,” Penckofer said.

“The next step would be to explore other tailored group cognitive-therapy programs for depression based on gender, race or disease. This is particularly important since depression is associated with relapse and use of cognitive therapy is associated with a lower relapse rates.”

The study is published in the latest issue of the Annals of Behavioral Medicine.

Source: Loyola University Chicago 

Group of women photo by shutterstock.