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Depression Often Untreated in Children with Diabetes

Depressive symptoms are more common than diagnoses and treatment.

A study published in the journal Diabetes Care examined depressive symptoms and rates of depression among children with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. The study was conducted via a depression questionnaire. There were 261 youth with type 1 diabetes and 339 youth with type 2 diabetes who completed the questionnaire. The questionnaire used was the Children’s Depression Inventory (CDI).

The results of the study revealed higher rates of depressive symptoms than depression diagnosis and treatment. While 13% of children with type 1 diabetes were found to have depressive symptoms, only 4% were actually treated in the prior 12 months. Depressive symptoms and the gap between symptoms and treatment were higher among children with type 2 diabetes: 22% of these children had depressive symptoms and only 9% received treatment (P = 0.007). Of all the children included in the study who had depressive symptoms, only 15% had a diagnosis of depression in the previous 12 months.

The researchers examined different factors to find associations with depressive symptoms. Obesity (P = 0.002) and lower socioeconomic status (P = 0.006) were associated with depressive symptoms in only type 1 diabetes children. Other factors, such as age, ethnicity, gender, and duration of diabetes, had no correlation with depressive symptom incidence.

Practitioners should consider screening for depression in their pediatric diabetes patients. Identifying depressive symptoms and then treating them is important because untreated depression can have a severe impact on pediatric patients.

Practice Pearls:

  • Children with diabetes are at increased risk of depression.
  • This study showed that depression is undertreated in children with diabetes: rates of depressive symptoms were higher than rates of treatment or diagnoses.
  • Practitioner who treat pediatric diabetes should screen these patients for depression regularly.

Silverstein J, Cheng P, Ruedy KJ, et al. “Depressive Symptoms in Youth With Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetes: Results of the Pediatric Diabetes Consortium Screening Assessment of Depression in Diabetes Study.” Diabetes Care. Published online before print October 12, 2015. doi: 10.2337/dc15-0982.