Do antidepressants for people with diabetes affect survival? | Danish Diabetes and Endocrine Academy
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Do antidepressants for people with diabetes affect survival?

Dr Christopher Rohde has been awarded DKK 1.1 million by the Danish Diabetes Academy to study the broad effect of antidepressant medication on people with type 2 diabetes. This, he believes, will provide valuable information regarding the overriding goal of his project: to find out whether treating type 2 diabetes patients with antidepressants can improve the trend with regard to physical complications, pain and, ultimately, survival. His hypothesis is that it can.

In recent years, growing attention has been paid to the fact that people with type 2 diabetes develop not only physical complications, but psychiatric disorders as well. Depression is especially common, occurring in approximately 25% of people living with type 2 diabetes.

‘It’s very understandable. People affected by type 2 diabetes run a high risk of developing a large number of complications such blood clots in the heart and brain, impaired vision, renal conditions and neurological conditions. Their quality of life is therefore often low, and their life expectancy markedly lower than that of healthy people’, says Christopher Rohde.

Moreover, depression often affects the patient’s ability to follow their type 2 diabetes treatment, thus exacerbating the disease and further increasing mortality.

Fine-grained clinical data
Christopher Rohde and colleagues will use two big datasets in their research. One is an extract from the unique Danish health registries. From these, they will obtain data on approximately 350,000 Danes with type 2 diabetes and their use of antidepressants.

With the help of this data, they can investigate whether antidepressant drugs give protection from the development of conditions such as cardiovascular disease and cerebral blood clots – and whether they extend lifespan.

The second dataset consists of much more fine-grained clinical data (including waist measurement, smoking, alcohol consumption, exercise habits, family history, blood samples and urine samples) from over 8,600 Danes with type 2 diabetes who are participating in the big, countrywide DD2 research project.

‘By linking this data to information on antidepressant use, we can look at how the medication affects lifestyle, for example, in people with type 2 diabetes and whether their diabetes treatment becomes more stable. We expect the results of the project to provide important new information that can help to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease in patients with type 2 diabetes’, says Christopher Rohde.

To date, only a very few, mostly small-scale, scientific studies have looked into the question of whether antidepressant medication has beneficial effects extending beyond the treatment of the depression itself.

In this project, the researchers will examine the broad effect of antidepressant medication in people with type 2 diabetes. For example, this includes the effect on diabetes treatment (blood sugar levels etc.), lifestyle (smoking, alcohol consumption and exercise), the development of physical complications, pain and the effect on survival.


Christopher Rohde MD
Aarhus University Hospital, Faculty of Health, Aarhus University
+45 28260990