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Are adults diagnosed with type 2 diabetes at a greater risk of developing depression? Integrative literature review

10 March 2022
13 min read
Volume 31 · Issue 5



The aim of this integrative literature review was to investigate the prevalence of depression in adults diagnosed with type 2 diabetes within Europe and to examine the link between adults with type 2 diabetes and the risk of developing depression.


An integrative literature review using the databases CINAHL, Medline and PsycInfo to retrieve the most relevant articles on adults with type 2 diabetes and the risk of developing depression.


Gender, age and socio-economic status may increase the risk of an adult with type 2 diabetes developing depression.


Adults with type 2 diabetes are at a greater risk of developing depression, and factors such as age, gender and socio-economics also play a role in predicting whether a person with type 2 diabetes will develop depression. Screening tools such as Patient Health Questionnaire-2 (PHQ-2) may be used to assess for depression within GP surgeries at the time of diagnosis with type 2 diabetes.

Depression is a prevalent mental health condition that affects more than 280 million individuals worldwide (World Health Organization, 2021). According to the International Diabetes Federation (2021), around 537 million adults aged 20–79 years are living with diabetes worldwide, and the proportion of individuals diagnosed with type 2 diabetes is increasing in most countries. Golden et al (2017) found that, globally, 43 million people who have diabetes also have symptoms of depression. Similarly, Public Health England (2018) noted that depression is more common among people living with type 2 diabetes, compared with those who are not.

In addition, depression may have negative implications for those with type 2 diabetes in relation to diabetes management. Schmitz et al (2014) suggested that adults with diabetes and depression have been shown to have more problems with self-management of their diabetes—in terms of following a healthy diet, exercising, adherence to medication, blood glucose monitoring and not smoking—which can increase the risk of macrovascular and microvascular complications. Ma et al (2018) argued that people with depression are prone to have a poor quality of life, poor treatment compliance and suboptimal glycaemic control. Furthermore, Lunghi et al (2016) identified that establishing the risk factors for developing depression in this patient group could help health professionals to identify those diabetic patients at high risk of developing depression and thus prevent or treat depression in people with type 2 diabetes.

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