Health Outcomes for Patients With Diabetes, Depression May Be Improved By Antidepressants


Antidepressants may lower the risk of death and serious complications from diabetes for patients with both diabetes and depression, according to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. Depression can exacerbate complications from diabetes through stress, body weight changes, and lack of exercise.1

“People with depression and diabetes have poorer health outcomes than those with diabetes alone, and regular antidepressant treatment could lower their risk of complications,” said Shi-Heng Wang, PhD, of the China Medical University in Taichung, Taiwan, in a press release.1

Depression can have a number of negative health effects, including changing how the body maintains balance and reacts to stress. Further, depression can increase the difficulty of remaining physically active, engaging in self-care, and following through on treatment plans.2

The investigators conducted a nationwide retrospective cohort study of patients with depression and diabetes, ultimately including 36,276 participants. The study was aimed at answering whether antidepressants could improve diabetes outcomes for these patients. According to the results of the study, regular antidepressant treatment was associated with both a lower risk of death and heart disease.1

“People who adhere to their antidepressants have better diabetes outcomes and quality of life than those with poor adherence,” said study author Chi-Shin Wu, MD, PhD, of the National Taiwan University Hospital in Taipei, Taiwan, in the release.1

These results are consistent with prior studies focusing on patients with both diabetes and depression. A 2016 study reviewing the outcomes for older patients with diabetes and depression who received structured depression care management found that these individuals were 53% less likely to die over the course of the study when compared with patients who received care as usual.2

The 2016 study also found that structured treatment improved patients’ depression a significant amount more than standard care. Forty percent of participants who received 4 months of treatment experienced complete relief of depression symptoms, whereas 22.5% of older individuals receiving the standard of care experienced this relief.2


  1. Antidepressants may improve outcomes in people with diabetes and depression [news release]. EurekAlert; July 14, 2021. Accessed July 20, 2021.
  2. Treating major depression in older adults with diabetes may lower risk of death [news release]. EurekAlert; January 27, 2016. Accessed July 21, 2021.
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