Associations between depression and diabetes in the community: do symptom dimensions matter? Results from the Gutenberg Health Study

PLoS One. 2014 Aug 15;9(8):e105499. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0105499. eCollection 2014.


Objectives: While a bidirectional relationship between diabetes and depression has been established, there is little knowledge if the associations are due to somatic-affective or cognitive-affective dimensions of depression.

Research design and methods: In a population-based, representative survey of 15.010 participants we therefore studied the associations of the two dimensions of depression with diabetes and health care utilization among depressed and diabetic participants. Depression was assessed by the Patient Health Questionnaire PHQ-9.

Results: We found a linear and consistent association between the intensity of depression and the presence of diabetes increasing from 6.9% in no or minimal depression to 7.6% in mild, 9% in moderate and 10.5% in severe depression. There was a strong positive association between somatic-affective symptoms but not with cognitive-affective symptoms and diabetes. Depression and diabetes were both independently related to somatic health care utilisation.

Conclusions: Diabetes and depression are associated, and the association is primarily driven by the somatic-affective component of depression. The main limitation of our study pertains to the cross-sectional data acquisition. Further longitudinal work on the relationship of obesity and diabetes should differentiate the somatic and the cognitive symptoms of depression.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Delivery of Health Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Depression / epidemiology*
  • Diabetes Complications / epidemiology
  • Diabetes Complications / psychology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / epidemiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus / psychology*
  • Female
  • Germany / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence

Grant support

This work/the Gutenberg Health Study is funded through the government of Rhineland-Palatinate (‘Stiftung Rheinland Pfalz für Innovation’, contract number AZ 961-386261/733), the research programs ‘Wissen schafft Zukunft’ and ‘Schwerpunkt Vaskuläre Prävention’ of the Johannes Gutenberg-University of Mainz and its contract with Boehringer Ingelheim and PHILIPS Medical Systems including an unrestricted grant for the Gutenberg Health Study. Philipp S. Wild is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF 01EO1003). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.