Insulin resistance linked to higher risk of depression
- Insulin resistance occurs when the body does not respond properly to insulin and cannot easily absorb glucose from the blood. This dysfunction causes the pancreas to produce more insulin to compensate.
- Major depressive disorder is a mood disorder that can have a profound effect on the general well-being of people.
- A new study suggests that people with insulin resistance have a higher risk of developing major depressive disorder.
Insulin resistance can lead to the development of type 2 diabetes which, without proper management, can lead to serious health problems.
Major depressive disorder is a common and serious mental health problem. Its importance means that researchers are working to identify factors that put people at risk for developing depression.
A new study by researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine in California found that participants with insulin resistance had a higher risk of developing depression than those who did not. The results appear in The American Journal of Psychiatry.
Without enough insulin, sugar from food builds up in the bloodstream, depleting the body’s energy stores. Excessively high blood sugar levels can lead to serious long-term health complications. Currently, 34.2 million people have diabetes in the United States, where it is the seventh leading cause of death.
In addition to the many people with diabetes, approximately 88 million adults in the United States have something called prediabetes. This happens when blood sugar is high but not high enough for the person to be diagnosed with diabetes.
The American Diabetes Association notes that insulin resistance, also known as altered insulin sensitivity, occurs when the body stops responding to insulin as it should. The available insulin becomes less effective and the pancreas makes more insulin to try to compensate.
As resistance worsens, the pancreatic cells that make insulin can wear down. Eventually, the pancreas fails to produce enough insulin and blood sugar levels rise. Insulin resistance can then progress to prediabetes or type 2 diabetes.
The exact cause of insulin resistance remains unclear. However, genetic and lifestyle factors may contribute to its development.
Major depressive disorder, which people more commonly refer to as depression, is a very common mental health problem. The CDC believes that
The National Institute of Mental Health describes depression as a mood disorder that influences the way people think and feel. It can also have a major influence on a person’s ability to function in their day-to-day life. A doctor can diagnose depression after specific symptoms have been present for 2 weeks or more.
Possible symptoms of depression include:
- persistent feelings of anxiety or sadness
- feelings of hopelessness, guilt, or irritability
- Difficulty sleeping
- changes in appetite
- loss of interest in activities or hobbies
- pain, such as a headache, that has no apparent cause or does not improve with treatment
- suicidal thoughts or suicide attempt
Not all people with depression experience all of the symptoms of the disease, but it can have serious consequences for people’s well-being and their daily activities. It can also increase the risk of suicide.
Because of the importance of depression, researchers continue to look at risk factors that can help detect and treat the disease at an earlier stage.
The study in question collected data from participants who were part of the Dutch Depression and Anxiety Study (NESDA). The researchers followed the study participants over a period of 9 years.
They measured three factors that indicate insulin resistance:
- The report of
high density lipoprotein cholesterol triglycerides, which, according to the researchers, “has been well correlated with the gold standard for insulin resistance and is often used in a clinical setting”
- blood sugar levels, in the form of fasting blood sugar
- waist size
The 601 participants the team included in the data analysis were those with no history of clinical depression or anxiety. The researchers screened the participants for depression and other psychiatric disorders, took laboratory samples, and checked the participants’ physical measurements during their initial assessment and again after 2 years.
Participants then underwent psychiatric assessments 4, 6, and 9 years after the initial assessment. The team based the clinical diagnostic criteria for incidents of depression on the Fourth Edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, a standardized classification system for diagnosing mental health problems.
The researchers took into account several covariates, including the participants’ age, sex, education level, level of physical activity, smoking status, and alcohol consumption.
Their main analysis found that all three indicators of insulin resistance were associated with an increased risk of depression.
The researchers further looked at the specific subgroup of people who had no indicators of insulin resistance at the start of the study but developed prediabetes – based on plasma glucose and blood levels. other indicators of insulin resistance – by 2-year follow-up.
They found that those who developed prediabetes in the first 2 years of the study were more than twice as likely to experience major depression at the 9-year follow-up than those who had normal blood sugar at the 2-year point.
When Medical News Today Asked to comment on the study, Dr Faye Riley, Senior Research Communications Officer at Diabetes UK, said: ‘This research offers important clues about the two-way links between these complex conditions [diabetes and depression] and the impact of factors such as blood cholesterol and sugar levels.
The study had limitations. For example, researchers were unable to use the euglycemic clamp technique, which they describe as the gold standard, to assess insulin resistance.
Further, the authors note that “this assay was not designed to measure the development of metabolic pathology over a 2-year follow-up period.” For this reason, they recommend that future studies replicate the results and continue to investigate the link between the onset of prediabetes and depression.
Study author Dr Katie Watson also pointed out that more research is needed to determine the direction of the relationship between insulin resistance and depression. She explained to MNT:
âIt is somewhat surprising that insulin resistance is linked to a significantly higher rate of depression over a 9-year follow-up period. We weren’t sure about the directionality of the relationship between two health issues Now it seems plausible that there is a two-way relationship between insulin resistance and depression, we need to do more research to understand this.
She further explained how the information the team gleaned from the study can influence further research and clinical practice. She told MNT: âWe are also exploring the idea of ââthe metabolic subtype of depression. There are different treatments or approaches that may help manage depression in people with insulin resistance. These tools could inform clinical practice in the future.
Dr Riley was also excited to continue research in this area. She told MNT: âWe look forward to larger studies that will help better understand the biological links between diabetes and depression, helping to discover the most effective ways to reduce the risk of depression for people with or with depression. risk of type 2 diabetes, and vice versa. ”
“We also hope this will lead to better ways for healthcare professionals to identify those at risk for developing depression, ensuring they get the treatment and care they need early on.” , added Dr Riley.