July 2014

Depression-like symptoms improve after diabetes distress interventions

In the moment: Diabetes

By P.K. Daniel

Patients with diabetes often struggle with depression-like feelings, but research suggests those symptoms may not need to be treated as a comorbid psychiatric condition.

Findings presented in June at the annual meeting of the American Diabetes Association in San Francisco suggest that depression symptoms in adults with type 2 diabetes can be reduced with interventions targeting diabetes distress (DD), defined as the worries, concerns, and fears associated with such a demanding chronic disease.

Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco randomized 392 participants with moderate DD to receive diabetes management information, a computer-assisted diabetes self-management improvement program (CASM), or CASM plus DD-focused problem-solving therapy.

All interventions resulted in a significant reduction of DD, assessed using the Diabetes Distress Scale, at both four and 12 months compared with baseline scores. All interventions also significantly improved scores on the eight-item Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-8), which assesses depressive symptoms. At baseline, 14.3% of the study participants scored between 10 and 14.9 on the PHQ, suggesting moderate depression. At four months, 78.6% recorded PHQ-8 scores below 10, and at 12 months, 83.9% did.


Bowyer V, Fisher L, Hessler D, et al. Interventions to reduce diabetes distress also reduce depression. Presented at the 74th Scientific Sessions of the American Diabetes Association, San Francisco, June 2014.

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