This site is intended for health professionals only

Research uncovers link between depression and diabetes

28 June 2016

Share this article

Psychiatric researchers have discovered a genetic link between depression and type 2 diabetes.

A team from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at King’s College London have investigated the co-occurrence of diabetes and depression.

People with depression are up to 60% more at risk of developing type 2 diabetes and those with type 2 diabetes are around 15% more at risk of developing depression.

The research team has looked at the potential interactions between genetic and environmental risk factors using twin data and genome wide association studies.

The paper, Genetic overlap between type 2 diabetes and depression in Swedish and Danish twin registries, in the Molecular Psychiatry journal.

While the researchers said the mechanisms underlying the apparent association between the two conditions are still unclear, common biological pathways have been identified in the development of both.

Dr Carol Kan, the research team leader, said: “We are still in the early days, but we have demonstrated significant genetic overlap between type 2 diabetes and depression in three twin registries. Larger scale studies will further help us to address this complex research question.”

The Royal College of Psychiatrists said in a statement about the research: “Both depression and Type 2 diabetes are chronic health conditions and both have a major impact on public health.

“Diabetes is a complex disorder and having depression can have a serious impact on an individual’s ability to manage their diabetes on a regular basis.”

Last year, Diabetes UK produced figures that showed 3.5 million having been diagnosed with the disease.

Meanwhile, according to the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) between four and 10% of people in England will experience depression at some point in their lives.

The team’s findings were presented at the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ International Congress, which is taking place 27-30 June in London.