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Treating depression controls blood sugar

Treating depression helps people with diabetes get their blood sugar under control.

Treating depression controls blood sugar

Treating depression helps people with diabetes get their blood sugar under control.

Rates of depression in people with diabetes are double those in the general population. Yet few studies have focused on the effect of treating depression in diabetics on their blood sugar control. To investigate researchers screened 89 American patients attending a diabetes clinic for depression. Out of these, 45 were randomly assigned to receive the antidepressant medication sertraline (link to drugs section) and 44 to a placebo. Everyone in the study also attended monthly diabetes group education programs.

After six months, blood sugar levels had fallen significantly in the sertraline group. That is, hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) levels, a standard measure of long-term blood sugar control, fell from 10 percent at the outset to 8 percent at six months. In general, it's recommended that people with diabetes strive for an HbA1c level below 7 percent. In contrast, there was only a 0.9 percent drop in HbA1c levels in the placebo group (from 9.7 percent at the outset to 8.8 percent at six months). Blood pressure also fell to a greater degree with sertraline than with placebo, while both groups had similar significant improvements in depression, pain and quality of life.

These results suggest that patients with diabetes should be screened and treated for depression.
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