(HealthDay News) – Adults with diabetes who are depressed are at increased risk for a shorter time to the first episode of severe hypoglycemia as well as a higher number of severe hypoglycemic episodes, according to a study published in the May/June issue of the Annals of Family Medicine.

Wayne J. Katon, MD, of the University of Washington in Seattle, and colleagues conducted a longitudinal cohort study involving a sample of 4,117 patients with diabetes who were enrolled between 2000–2002; observations were recorded from 2005–2007. Diagnosis of depression was based on depression criteria in Patient Health Questionnaire-9. A severe hypoglycemic episode was defined as a hypoglycemic episode requiring an emergency department visit or hospitalization.

The researchers found that, after adjusting for sociodemographic factors, clinical measures of diabetes severity, comorbidities not related to diabetes, prior hypoglycemic episodes, and health risk behaviors, depressed patients with diabetes had significantly higher risks for shorter time to a severe hypoglycemic episode (hazard ratio, 1.42) and greater number of severe hypoglycemic episodes (odds ratio, 1.34).

“In this study, comorbid major depression was found to be a risk factor for severe hypoglycemic episodes in adults with diabetes,” the authors write. “Research is needed to assess whether recognition and effective treatment of depression among persons with diabetes prevents severe hypoglycemic episodes, as well as the increased risk of complications and mortality.”

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