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Depression in Older PeopleLinked to Development of Diabetes

A large study has shown signs of a link between having depression and developing diabetes. The study looked at 4,681 men and women 65 or older who did not have diabetes when the research began in 1989. The participants were screened each year for 10 symptoms of depression.

The results showed that participants who had symptoms of depression were more likely to develop diabetes, and that the more severe the depression was, the more likely the participants were to develop diabetes. This was true even after researchers accounted for lifestyle factors that contribute to diabetes, such as lack of exercise and being overweight.

The researchers believe it's possible that people who suffer from depression are less likely to take care of themselves. And they also believe that the stress hormone cortisol, which is found in higher levels among people who are depressed, could also contribute to the development of diabetes. When cortisol levels are high, people may be less sensitive to insulin, which increases the likelihood of diabetes.

This study points to the importance of taking care of all aspects of health—physical and mental. And it also stresses the importance of being tested for diabetes if depression is present.

Archives of Internal Medicine, 23 April 2007

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