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May 31, 2014 04:37 PM EDT

Diabetes Patients May Have An Increased Risk Of Early Death From Depression

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People with diabetes have about double the risk of premature death as people of the same age without diabetes and have about twice the odds of suffering from depression, according to new research.

A new study led by researchers from the University of California- Los Angeles found that among adults 65 and older with diabetes, depression is linked with a far greater chance for early death compared with people of the same age who do not have depression.

"We found that depression mainly increases the risk of mortality among older persons with diabetes," Lindsay Kimbro, the study's lead author and project director in the division of general internal medicine and health services research at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, said in a statement. "Although depression is an important clinical problem for people of all ages, when you split the different age groups, depression in the younger group doesn't lead to increased mortality six to seven years later."

For the study, more than 3,300 participants were given a baseline survey and were contacted for a follow-up survey six to seven years after the initial interview.

"We found that depression mainly increases the risk of mortality among older persons with diabetes," Kimbro said. "Although depression is an important clinical problem for people of all ages, when you split the different age groups, depression in the younger group doesn't lead to increased mortality six to seven years later."

A significant number of previous reports have linked diabetes and depression with an increased risk for premature death, but Kimbro said it now appears that those results may have been influenced by a focus on elderly patients. This is the first to specifically compare the phenomenon as it affects those 65 and older with how it affects younger people.

The findings were recently published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. 

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