June 2014

Varied factors affect emotional issues related to painful diabetic neuropathy

In the moment: Footcare

By Emily Delzell

A detailed look at factors related to emotional distress in patients with painful diabetic neuropathy found that, among other issues, being socially isolated increases anxiety and can worsen individuals’ experience of pain and quality of life.

Investigators at the University of Sheffield in the UK did a detailed clinical exam and administered questionnaires to 142 people (42 women) with painful diabetic neuropathy to determine how disease duration and severity, age and gender, socio-occupational status, and pain-coping strategies contribute to emotional distress.

More than half (51.4%) experienced emotional distress, and catastrophic thinking increased both depression and anxiety. Being female and young­er at disease onset and having greater levels of pain, disability, preexisting mood disorders, and fewer social contacts were linked to greater depression. Those who were single, unemployed, retired, and had shorter disease duration (which authors suggested indicates younger age) had the most anxiety.

Self-reported pain intensity was more strongly associated with anxiety than depression, which was linked to larger reductions in quality of life.

Diabetes & Vascular Disease Research epublished the results on May 12.


Selvarajah D, Cash T, Sankar A, et al. The contributors of emotional distress in painful diabetic neuropathy. Diab Vasc Dis Res 2014 May 12. [Epub ahead of print]

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