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Depressed People Over Age 65 May Develop Type 2 Diabetes More Readily, Study Finds

Posted Dec 18 2008 8:10pm

Older adults who are depressed could be more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, according to a new study, Reuters reports.

The study, published in the Archives on Internal Medicine, evaluated nearly 5,000 adults aged 65 or older for a decade and found that those who got the blues were more likely to develop diabetes than those without depressive symptoms, according to Dr. Mercedes Carnethon of the Department of Preventive Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago.

These findings are "of particular public health importance because there are 35 million U.S. adults older than 65 years," maintained Dr. Carnethon and her research colleagues . Of that figure, about 2 million of these older adults experience depression. And of those, 15.3 percent have diabetes, the researchers point out.

While the study provides useful information, it failed to consider other risk factors for diabetes such as activity and body mass index, two obvious indicators of a person's risk of developing the disease. 

The new resaerch also neglects to mention the possibility that obesity, which is a major risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes, could be what's causing the depression in the first place, possibly leading to a chicken or the egg question: Which comes first, diabetes risk factors or depression? Or do each fuel the other, as this AMA article suggests?

Regardless of age, depression already has been linked to heart disease, angina, and chronic pain, suggesting that catching and treating depression could be a key factor in preventing these diseases. 

And separate from depression, as the elderly are living longer, they're more susceptible to chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, heart and lung problems, high blood pressure and Alzheimer's anyway.

From Althea Chang

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