Treat depression to improve diabetic outcomes

It's a patient's mental state, not his blood glucose, that clinicians should tackle first, researchers found in a study just published online in the journal Medical Care. That's the upshot of a year-long program that started by giving patients behavioral therapy sessions over the phone, and later added a walking program to get patients exercising.

The link between diabetes and depression is clear. The most recent study, published last month in the Annals of Family Medicine, found diabetic patients are 52 percent more likely to be depressed than people without diabetes. Researchers provided cognitive behavior therapy to help patients "address negative thought processes and behaviors" that were making it tough for them to manage their symptoms.

The study, conducted by the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System and the University of Michigan Health System, found that with telehealth interventions, diabetic patients improved their diet compliance, lowered their blood pressure and even reported that their quality of life was better. Interestingly, the study didn't show a significant drop in A1C levels, but that may be because most of the patients had relatively good control over their glucose levels already, according HealthNewsDigest.

"Health systems should consider routinely offering structured telephone psychotherapy to their patients with diabetes and depression," senior study author and associate psychiatry professor Marcia Valenstein says. "Patients with depression and additional chronic medical conditions do better if their depression is addressed first." Delivering the counseling via telehealth "makes it feasible to reach large numbers of patients who many not attend traditional in-person appointments," she adds.

To learn more:
- read the HealthNewsDigest article
- check out research at WebMD Health News
- learn more at

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