Nearly 30 Percent of Teens with Type 1 Diabetes Had Symptoms of Depression: Study

Nearly 30 Percent of Teens with Type 1 Diabetes Had Symptoms of Depression: Study

-Colleen Garey, MS

A new study of over 1,400 teens with type 1 diabetes provides real-world evidence to suggest a strong connection between symptoms of depression with difficulties in blood sugar management. The study results were presented at the annual meeting of the American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE) in Houston in August. 

Depression is a mood disorder that affects how a person feels, thinks, and behaves. Roughly 6 percent of teens surveyed had been diagnosed with depression in the United States, according to The 2016 National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH).

Current data suggests that depression occurs two to three times more frequently in adolescents with type 1 diabetes than in the general population, but there has been a lack of real-world evidence to verify that rate and explore the connection between depressive symptoms and blood sugar management.

Existing research indicates that adolescents with type 1 diabetes and any other psychiatric condition experience worse glycemic outcomes and have more difficulty when transitioning to adult care than those who do not have these conditions. However, such data come from studies that are limited by small sample sizes and selection bias.

A recent study conducted by T1D Exchange researchers and researchers from clinics in the T1D Exchange Quality Improvement Collaborative attempts to quantify how much of an impact depression may have on blood sugar levels among teens with type 1 diabetes. This study utilized electronic medical record data from 1421 adolescents being seen at diabetes and endocrinology clinics in the United States. 

What the researchers found was that 29% of the teens indicated they had at least some symptoms of depression, as indicated by their scores on the PHQ-9, a patient questionnaire designed to assess depressive symptoms. In addition, those patients who reported depressive symptoms had a 15% increased risk of having an HbA1c at or above 7.5% and a 39% increased risk of having an A1c at or above 9.0%.

The correlation continued over time, according to electronic medical records. Those who reported symptoms of depression had a 13 percent increased risk of having an HbA1c over 7.5% and a 47 percent increased risk of having an HbA1c over 9.0. Within the span of a year, patients reporting any level of depressive symptoms had a 40% increased risk of at least one episode of  diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), and a 78% increased risk of having at least one episode of severe hypoglycemia.

The findings of this study suggest that the prevalence of depressive symptoms in adolescents with type 1 diabetes is about five times that of the general population, and that adolescents who endorsed any depression symptoms had elevated risk for worse glycemic outcomes and were at a higher risk for acute complications than those who didn’t.

Overall, this study indicates that depression continues to be a barrier to good diabetes management. Routine screening and, when appropriate, referrals to experienced mental health providers, in coordination with patients’ diabetes care, are needed.

This was one of several studies presented at the AADE meeting. You can view the others here. 

Join T1D Exchange Glu for more type 1 diabetes news. 
This was one of several studies presented at the AADE meeting. You can view the others here

Join T1D Exchange Glu for more type 1 diabetes news. 

 

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