Co-occurrence of diabetes and depression: conceptual considerations for an emerging global health challenge

J Affect Disord. 2012 Oct;142 Suppl:S56-66. doi: 10.1016/S0165-0327(12)70009-5.


Background: Considering the relationships between diabetes and depression may enhance programs to reduce their individual and shared disease burden.

Methods: This paper discusses relationships between diabetes and depression, the range of influences on each, conceptual issues central to their definition, and interventions including comprehensive, population approaches to their prevention and management. Foundational and exemplary literature was identified by the writing team according to their areas of expertise.

Results: Diabetes and depression influence each other while sharing a broad range of biological, psychological, socioeconomic and cultural determinants. They may be viewed as: (a) distinct but sometimes comorbid entities, (b) dimensions, (c) parts of broader categories, e.g., metabolic/cardiovascular abnormalities or negative emotions, or (d) integrated so that comprehensive treatment of diabetes includes depression or negative emotions, and that of depression routinely considers possible diabetes or other chronic diseases.

Limitations: The choice of literature relied primarily on the authors' knowledge of the issues addressed. Some important perspectives and research may have been overlooked.

Conclusions and clinical implications: Collaboration among primary care and specialist clinicians as well as program and public health managers should reflect the commonalities among diabetes, depression, and other chronic mental and physical disorders. Interventions should include integrated clinical care and self-management programs along with population approaches to prevention and management. Self management and problem solving may provide a coherent framework for integrating the diverse tasks and objectives of those living with diabetes and depression or many other varieties of multi-morbidity.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chronic Disease
  • Comorbidity
  • Delivery of Health Care, Integrated*
  • Depression / complications*
  • Depression / epidemiology*
  • Depression / etiology
  • Depression / therapy
  • Diabetes Complications / epidemiology
  • Diabetes Complications / psychology
  • Diabetes Mellitus / epidemiology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / psychology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / therapy
  • Disease Management
  • Global Health
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Negativism*
  • Self Care