Diabetes Distress or Major Depressive Disorder? A Practical Approach to Diagnosing and Treating Psychological Comorbidities of Diabetes

Diabetes Ther. 2017 Feb;8(1):1-7. doi: 10.1007/s13300-017-0231-1. Epub 2017 Feb 3.


The presence of major depressive disorder (MDD) in people with diabetes may be up to three times more common than in the general population. People with diabetes and major depressive disorder have worse health outcomes and higher mortality rates. Diabetes distress refers to an emotional state where people experience feelings such as stress, guilt, or denial that arise from living with diabetes and the burden of self-management. Diabetes distress has also been linked to worse health outcomes. There are multiple treatment options for MDD including pharmacotherapy and cognitive behavioral approaches. Providers treating patients with diabetes must be aware of the frequent comorbidity of diabetes, diabetes distress, and depression and manage patients using a multidisciplinary team approach. This article discusses the epidemiology, pathophysiology, and bi-directional relationship of diabetes and depression and provides a practical, patient-centered approach to diagnosis and management.

Keywords: Chronic care management; Depression; Diabetes distress; Major depressive disorder.