In a new study from Stanford Medicine, researchers linked insulin resistance to an increased risk of developing a major depressive disorder.
They found if one is insulin-resistant, the risk of developing the major depressive disorder is double that of someone who’s not insulin-resistant, even if s/he never experienced depression before.
Upward of 1 in 5 Americans experiences major depressive disorder sometime during their lives. Symptoms include unremitting sadness, despair, sluggishness, sleep disturbances and loss of appetite.
Some factors contributing to this deeply debilitating disease—childhood traumas, loss of a loved one, or the stresses of the COVID-19 pandemic, for example—are things they can’t prevent.
But insulin resistance is preventable: It can be reduced or eliminated by diet, exercise and, if need be, drugs. Studies have confirmed that at least 1 in 3 of us is walking around with insulin resistance—often without knowing it.
The condition does not arise from a deficiency in the pancreas’s ability to secrete insulin into the bloodstream, as occurs in Type 1 diabetes, but because of the decreased ability of cells throughout the body to heed this hormone’s command.
In the study, the team analyzed data from 601 men and women who served as control subjects for the Netherlands study.
At the time of their enrollment, they’d never been troubled by depression or anxiety. Their average age was 41 years.
The team found that a moderate increase in insulin resistance, as measured by the triglyceride-to-HDL ratio, was linked to an 89% increase in the rate of major depressive disorder.
Similarly, every 5-centimeter increase in abdominal fat was related to an 11% higher rate of depression, and an increase in fasting plasma glucose of 18 milligrams per deciliter of blood was associated with a 37% higher rate of depression.
Further analysis showed those developing prediabetes within the first two years of the study had 2.66 times the risk for major depression by the nine-year follow-up milepost, compared with those who had normal fasting-glucose test results at the two-year point.
The bottom line: Insulin resistance is a strong risk factor for serious problems, including not only Type 2 diabetes but depression.
The team says it’s time for providers to consider the metabolic status of those suffering from mood disorders and vice versa, by assessing mood in patients with metabolic diseases such as obesity and high blood pressure.
To prevent depression, physicians should be checking their patients’ insulin sensitivity. These tests are readily available in labs around the world, and they’re not expensive.
If you care about depression, please read studies about common anti-inflammatory drugs could reduce depression effectively and findings of this common bowel problem may increase depression risk.
For more information about depression and your health, please see recent studies about this personality trait may prevent depression and results showing that new finding may help treat alcohol use disorder and depression.
The study is published in the American Journal of Psychiatry. One author of the study is Natalie Rasgon, MD, Ph.D.
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