NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Poor blood sugar control and frequent emergency room visits are among the signs that a child or adolescent with diabetes may be suffering from depression, according to new research.
The findings suggest that pediatricians or other healthcare providers “might want to consider screening for depressed mood” in young diabetic patients having trouble keeping their blood sugar under control, Dr. Jean M. Lawrence told Reuters Health.
This study is not the first to investigate depressive symptoms in children with diabetes, lead author Lawrence, from Kaiser Permanente Southern California in Pasadena, said. However, most of the other studies were small, included only type 1 diabetics or used a rigid psychiatric definition of depression, she said.
“The SEARCH for Diabetes in Youth is actually the largest study of diabetes in kids in the United States to date,” Lawrence commented.
The analysis involved 2672 individuals, between 10 and 21 years of age, who had diabetes for an average duration of 5 years. As reported in the medical journal Pediatrics, most had type 1 diabetes, which is the form of the disease in which insulin-producing cells are knocked out by a faulty immune reaction, but 371 had type 2 diabetes, which is usually related to obesity and results from the body’s inability to use insulin properly.
The researchers found that 14 percent of the subjects had a mildly depressed mood and 8.6 percent had a moderately or severely depressed mood. On average, females were more depressed than males.
As mentioned, poorer diabetes control and more frequent ER visits were both associated with depressed mood.
In male subjects, type 2 diabetes was more closely linked to depressed mood than type 1 diabetes. In females, the presence of other illnesses was predictive of depressed mood.
SOURCE: Pediatrics, April 2006.
By Anthony J. Brown, MD