Depression and Diabetes

November 19, 2020

Members living with diabetes are at risk of developing several psychological conditions. Approximately 40% of people living with diabetes struggle with their mental wellbeing1. The demands of diabetes often lead to depression and studies show there is a bidirectional relationship between diabetes and depression.

Depressive disorders occur two to three times higher in people with diabetes mellitus2. Disability occurs up to two to three times higher in people with diabetes and depression3. There are numerous considerations for people living with diabetes, such as medication management, managing multiple comorbidities and monitoring their blood glucose. This balancing act and continually changing environment can negatively affect their emotional wellbeing. As diabetes self-management can be complicated, a multifaceted approach must optimize treatment and offset the adverse risks. The timely diagnosis and treatment of depression may improve members' quality of life and increase their social participation.

Mental Health Considerations

Help empower your patients to manage their own care. Patients with diabetes may feel more comfortable discussing depression and other psychological pressures with a primary care provider instead of a mental health specialist. Medication reviews and counseling on medication changes should be a part of every encounter. Identify patients with psychological and emotional needs, ask them about their emotional wellbeing and use a validated screening tool. Make a plan together for treatment options and the next steps. Consider referring to mental health provider and even consider providing the member with structured education. If you are referring to a mental health provider, coordinate care together and let the patient know you will remain active in their care.

1Kalra, S., Jena, B., & Yeravdekar, R. (2018). Emotional and Psychological Needs of People with Diabetes Learn more about third-party links. Retrieved September 29, 2020

2Diabetes and Mental Health Learn more about third-party links. (2018, August 06). Retrieved September 29, 2020.

3Riddle, M., M.D. (2019, January). Diabetes Care Learn more about third-party links. Retrieved September 29, 2020