Adults with diabetes, particularly women, are at greater risk for depression compared to the general population.
Now a new study published in The Diabetes Educator shows that this comorbidity in women is quite strong with nearly one in five women with diabetes also suffering from depression. The findings also show that the strongest predictors of comorbid depression in diabetic women are the following factors: younger age, poor health, not completing high school, inactivity due to pain or poor health.
“The diabetes/depression comorbidity is associated with greater health care costs, poorer self-care, less medication compliance and dietary adherence, a greater diabetes symptom burden, poorer quality of life, and premature mortality,” said Dr. Shiela Strauss, associate professor of nursing in the New York University Rory Meyers College of Nursing (NYU Meyers).
Strauss said while a few studies have investigated the predictors of depression in women with diabetes, they are limited in a number of important areas. The new study establishes various depression predictors among adult women of diverse ages and races and ethnicities.
For the study, the researchers analyzed NHANES (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey) data, a program of studies designed to assess the health and nutritional status of adults and children in the United States.
The researchers specifically looked at data collected from 2007 to 2012 of women aged 20 or older with diabetes. The team found that 19 percent of the women in the study sample were clinically depressed according to a depression questionnaire that they had completed.
“Our study sample represented nearly 9 million women aged 20 or over in the U.S. with diabetes from 2007-2012,” said Strauss. “Our findings indicate that nearly 1.7 million of these women also had depression comorbidity. This is truly a staggering number of individuals.”
Consistent with established research of both male and female adults with diabetes, the new findings indicate that younger age, less education, self-rated poor health, and frequent pain and physical and functional impairment are significant predictors of depression among adult women with diabetes.
However, while prior research has linked other diabetes-related factors, such as the number of years with diabetes and the use of insulin, to the development of comorbid depression in both diabetic men and women, this was not the case when these variables were considered among women alone.
“What’s particularly salient to me is that women who were limited in their ability to carry on their usual activities because of pain, or who were inactive due to poor health, were especially likely to have comorbid depression,” said Strauss.
“These may not be the first factors people would associate with depression in adult women living with diabetes; empirical evidence only goes so far. But through our analysis of the NHANES dataset we were able to identify them as strong predictors of comorbid depression among women.”
The new findings will allow for the targeting of especially vulnerable women for screening and depression treatment.
Source: New York University