Treatment of depression in diabetes: an update

Curr Opin Psychiatry. 2009 Mar;22(2):211-7. doi: 10.1097/YCO.0b013e3283207b45.


Purpose of review: The combination of depression and diabetes is common and especially harmful because depression has a strong impact on psychosocial as well as medical outcomes in patients with diabetes. Consequently, treatment for depression in diabetes is also aimed at improvement in glycemic control and risk reduction for diabetes complications and mortality. This review provides an overview of all published, randomized controlled trials on the treatment of depression in patients with diabetes and summarizes current, ongoing research.

Recent findings: The best results for medical and psychological outcomes were observed for psychological treatments; however, the generalizability of these results is restricted by methodological limitations. Most antidepressants were effective treatments for depression in diabetes but failed to show benefits regarding diabetes-related medical variables. Algorithm-based care, including psychological and psychopharmacological approaches, provides the best scientific evidence for successful depression treatment but not for glycemic control.

Summary: Depression can be treated with antidepressants, psychotherapy or a flexible combination of both with relatively good results that are comparable to those for patients who have depression but not diabetes. Up to now, no single treatment that consistently leads to better medical outcomes in patients with both depression and diabetes has been clearly identified.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Comorbidity
  • Depressive Disorder / blood
  • Depressive Disorder / epidemiology
  • Depressive Disorder / therapy*
  • Diabetes Complications / blood
  • Diabetes Complications / prevention & control
  • Diabetes Complications / psychology
  • Diabetes Mellitus / epidemiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Psychotherapy
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Self Care / psychology
  • Sick Role*


  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Blood Glucose