Treat Depression to Boost Diabetes Self-Care: Study

Telephone counseling led to lower blood pressure, more exercise, researchers say

FRIDAY, April 22 (HealthDay News) -- Treating diabetes patients' depression boosts their overall health, according to a new study.

It included 145 people with type 2 diabetes and depression who received a year-long depression intervention that included 12 weeks of cognitive behavioral therapy over the phone, followed by nine monthly booster sessions. They also took part in a walking program.

They were compared to a control group of 146 diabetes patients with depression who received usual diabetes care.

At the end of the year, depression symptoms were in remission for 58 percent of the patients in the intervention group and 39 percent of those in the control group, said the researchers at the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System and the University of Michigan Health System.

The intervention program also led to lower blood pressure, an increase in walking of about four miles a week and improvement in general quality of life.

However, most patients already had good blood sugar control at the outset of the intervention, so A1C levels, a measure of blood sugar control, did not drop.

The study appears online ahead of print in the journal Medical Care.

Depression and diabetes often go hand in hand, and depression can be a major problem for people with diabetes because it makes them less likely to follow their medicine schedule or exercise program, the researchers explained.

"Depression is a common, treatable issue for many people who have diabetes," said study lead author John Piette, a senior research scientist at the VA and professor of internal medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School, in a university news release.

"Unfortunately, most busy clinics cannot provide the level of intensive care these patients need. This study shows that telephone-delivered counseling can improve patients' access to effective depression care, improve their cardiovascular health and get them moving again," he added.

More information

The American Diabetes Association has more about diabetes and depression.

Robert Preidt SOURCE: University of Michigan, news release, April 19, 2011

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