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Depression risk doubled in diabetes

Having depression is twice as common in men with type 2 diabetes as in those without the disease, a major new systematic review concludes.

The analysis also found the risk of depression was increased by around 30 per cent in women with diabetes, writes Gareth Iacobucci.

The findings highlight the size of the task GPs can expect as they screen all diabetes patients for depression under the new QOF indicators.

They will also reignite the debate over whether screening is worthwhile, with the research-ers unable to say whether diabetes increased the chance of subsequently developing depression, or vice versa.

The research, published in November's Diabetic Medicine, examined data on over 50,000 patients from 10 controlled studies. Overall, the prevalence of depression was significantly higher in patients with type 2 diabetes than in those without, at 18 per cent versus 10 per cent.

Depression was more likely in women with diabetes than men, with 24 per cent compared with 13 per cent affected. But the relative risk of depression with diabetes was increased more sizeably in men.

Study leader Saima Ali, a researcher in the department of health sciences at the University of Leicester, said it was important GPs were aware of the link between diabetes and depression, but admitted the relationship was complex.

She said: 'It's complicated, because diabetes is a demanding condition and the psychological impact could lead to depression. But the biological con- sequences of depression do affect glycaemic control and blood sugar levels, so equally, it could lead to diabetes.'

This uncertainty has reinforced GPs' scepticism about targeting chronically ill patients for depression screening.

Dr John Ashcroft, CHD lead for Erewash PCT and a GP in Ilkeston, Derbyshire, said there was 'not enough evidence' that screening was a worthwhile use of GPs' time.

He said: 'Just because depression is more common in diabetics, it doesn't necessarily mean that we should screen for it. My gut feeling is that my time would be better spent on other aspects of their diabetes care.'

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