World Diabetes Day 2016: Depression during pregnancy ups gestational diabetes, says study

Many people afflicted with depression are of the opinion that this mental problem has largely been ignored. Depression is mainly understood as a mental disorder manifesting itself in the form of persistent sadness along with incessant emotions of hopelessness and lack of self-esteem. Various reasons can increase the risk of depression and diabetes can be one of them.

Diabetes is a major physiological disorder affecting millions of people. To increase awareness about the perils associated with diabetes, World Diabetes Day is observed on November 14 every year. With the theme for 2016 being “Eyes on Diabetes,” all activities pertaining to this event will be directed at advocating the need for regular screening that will help in early detection of type 2 diabetes which can be managed through timely treatment.

Linking depression with diabetes

A recent study indicated that a common form of diabetes could be gestational diabetes or problems of high blood sugar occurring only during pregnancy and this can affect expectant mothers if they show signs of depression during the first two trimesters of gestation phase.

Women suffering from gestational diabetes are more likely to suffer from postpartum depression six weeks after delivery when compared with their peers who did not report of diabetes during pregnancy. The scientists found the link between depression and glucose intolerance while conducting a study titled “A longitudinal study of depression and gestational diabetes in pregnancy and the postpartum period.”

The study, published in the journal Diabetologia in September 2016, tried to assess the link between depression during the early stages of pregnancy and the risk of suffering from gestational diabetes. It also analyzed how gestational diabetes could result in an increased risk of postpartum depressive behavior in women.

The scientists evaluated pregnancy records from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) Fetal Growth Studies – Singleton Cohort which recorded the development of thousands of pregnancies to examine patterns of growth of fetuses. The researchers registered 2,334 non-obese and 468 obese pregnant women from their eighth to 13th week of the gestation period. The participants gave their responses to questionnaires regarding signs of depressive behavior while volunteering for the study. They again responded to questionnaires while they were between the 16th and 22nd week of pregnancy and then during six months of the postpartum phase.

Not obesity, but depression more likely to affect gestational diabetes

The findings indicated that women who exhibited acute symptoms of depression during the first and second trimesters suffered from three times the risk of gestational diabetes when compared to their other counterparts who had scored low on the depression scale.

Obese women are more likely to suffer from gestational diabetes, compared to non-obese women. However, the risk of gestational diabetes is higher in case of pregnant women suffering from depression.

Stressing on the observations made, senior author of the study Dr. Cuilin Zhang from the Division of Intramural Population Health Research at NICHD said, “Our results suggest it would be a good idea for clinicians to pay particular attention to women with high depression scores when evaluating the risk of gestational diabetes.”

The scientists also found an increase in the possibility of postpartum depression among women with gestational diabetes. This was based on findings of approximately 15 percent pregnant women diagnosed with gestational diabetes and had shown signs of depression after the birth of their children which was found to be four times that of women with no signs of gestational diabetes.

The study has its own limitations. The findings failed to portray the cause and effect relationship between the two. The observations, though, indicated the need to put treatment plan for depression in place for pregnant women seeking interventions for diabetes or depressed females planning to start a family.

Scope of recovery

If you or a loved one is experiencing depression, it is imperative that you seek immediate medical help. You can contact the Depression Treatment Helpline to access information about various depression rehab centers in the U.S. Call us at our 24/7 helpline number 866-619-7729 or chat online to get in touch with one of the recognized rehabilitation centers for depression.