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Diabetes + Depression = Diapression

Published: 3/31/10

The connection between diabetes and depression has been garnering greater attention recently, and the term “diapression" has been coined by Dr. Paul Ciechanowski to describe the intersection of the two conditions. Diapression is not a clinical diagnosis, but rather a description of the specific characteristics often displayed by people with both diabetes and depression. Dr. Ciechanowski, a well-known psychiatric researcher at the University of Washington, has started a website at to explain what diapression means and the importance of recognizing it for patients and for healthcare providers. We heard the dynamic Dr. Ciechanowski speak at a recent conference ADA Postgrad, in San Francisco (see this month’s Conference Pearls) – what an eye opener that was! There were several stats we found very troubling. First, we learned that 20%-40% of people with diabetes have significant depressive symptoms. Second, one in three patients will have an episode of major depression - the most significant form of depression - in their life. Last, among people with diabetes, 12% have major depression – this is a whopping two times the prevalence in the general population.

We are very happy about the work Dr. Ciechanowski is doing for patients. First, he points out on his new site that patients with depression may be less amenable to accepting medical help, and thus do not take advantage of medical tools available to them. Worse, patients with depression feel less motivated to help themselves, and have difficulty managing important physiological measures like A1c and blood pressure. Because the two conditions can effectively worsen each other, it is very important for patients to tell their doctors if they are feeling depressed. Dr. Ciechanowski’s site is an excellent starting point to learn about this combination of conditions. --NW

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