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Serious Psychological Distress More Common in Diabetics

Dec 6, 2004

The prevalence of serious psychological distress was 10.4% among people with diabetes. Adults with diabetes are considerable more likely to experience depression, anxiety and other disorders that cause (SPD) than those without diabetes.

Dr. K. H. McVeigh, of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and colleagues queried 9,590 people as part of the 2003 New York City Community Health Survey. Responses to six questions regarding sadness, nervousness and other feelings were the basis for classification as having SPD.


The authors found that the age-adjusted prevalence of diabetes was 9.0% and that of SPD was 5.0%. The prevalence of SPD was 10.4% among people with diabetes. Even after controlling for age, gender, ethnicity, marital status and income, the odds ratio for SPD was 1.9 among diabetics.

Having SPD along with diabetes was accompanied by a host of problems. Dr. McVeigh’s group found that these individuals were more likely to be divorced, separated or widowed, report a household income below $25,000 per year, or lack private insurance. They were also more likely to not fill prescriptions or see a doctor because of cost.

Only 11.6% of those with diabetes and SPD had private insurance compared to 41.6% of those with diabetes alone.
An accompanying editorial points out that "persons with comorbid diabetes and SPD face formidable economic and social obstacles to receiving appropriate health care." Thus "increased use of more effective methods for detecting and managing depression and other mental disorders might be particularly beneficial for persons with diabetes."

Mor Mortal Wkly Rep CDC Surveill Summ 2004;53:1089-1092.