Mental Health

Antidepressants May Lower Blood Sugar

by Staff

In a new twist on the expression: the best of both worlds, it turns out that treating depression can help diabetics get their blood sugar levels under control. Researchers made this surprising discovery during a study of diabetic minorities living under the poverty line who have trouble keeping their sugar levels within normal range.

High Risk

It seems that diabetics have a much higher risk for depression than that of the general population. The rates go up even higher when the diabetics are minorities. This group has the most trouble controlling their blood sugar levels.  They also tend to have more complications from diabetes and severer depression, say the researchers. Be that as it may, there have been few studies with an aim toward discovering the effects of depression treatment in minorities with out-of-control diabetes.

In an effort to rectify this dearth of information, Dr. Mayer B. Davidson along with his colleagues at Los Angeles’ Charles Drew University evaluated low-income diabetes patients for depression at a diabetes clinic. 89 patients with both diabetes and depression were chosen as participants in the trial. 45 of these patients were chosen at random to receive Zoloft (sertraline), an antidepressant medication, while 44 participants were given a placebo. All of the study participants attended an educational program for diabetics. Meetings for the education group were held once a month.

There were 39 Hispanic patients in each of the two groups; five participants were African American; while one of the participants in the Zoloft group was listed as “other.”

Significant Drop

The investigators found that after 6 months, those in the Zoloft group had experienced a significant drop in their blood sugar levels. Hemoglobin A1C levels, which is a standard measure for long-term control of blood sugar had fallen 2% from a starting point of 10% and a measure of 8% after six months of treatment. Diabetics are advised to aim for an A1C level that falls below 7%.

In the placebo group, A1C levels dropped only 0.9%, representing a change from 9.7% at the outset of the program to 8.8% at the end of six months. Both groups experienced a great deal of improvement in terms of their depression, quality of life, and pain levels, but blood pressure levels fell far lower in the Zoloft group than in the placebo group.

Experts feel these results suggest that diabetes patients should be screened for depression. In those patients found to have concurrent depression, treatment with an antidepressant should be considered. Through this therapy it seems, depression, poorly controlled diabetes, and blood pressure levels will all benefit.


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