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Psychiatrist unveils genetic link between depression and Type 2 diabetes

Psychiatric researchers have discovered a genetic link between depression and Type 2 diabetes.

Both depression and Type 2 diabetes are chronic health conditions and both have a major impact on public health. Diabetes is a complex disorder and having depression can have a serious impact on an individual’s ability to manage their diabetes on a regular basis.

Scientific studies have consistently shown a two-way epidemiological association between the two conditions. People with depression may be up to 60% more at risk of developing type 2 diabetes and those with Type 2 diabetes around 15% more at risk of developing depression, leading psychiatrists and scientists to try and discover how the two illnesses may be linked to each other.

The mechanisms underlying the apparent association between the two conditions are still unclear, although common biological pathways have been implicated in the development of both.

Building on this, Dr Carol Kan, a member of the Royal College of Psychiatrists and her team from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at King’s College London have been investigating the extent to which the co-occurrence of depression and depression could be due to interactions between genetic and environmental risk factors using two approaches; twin data and genome wide association studies (GWAS).

Dr Kan said:

“We are still in the early days, but we have demonstrated significant genetic overlap between Type 2 diabetes and depression in three twin registries. Larger scale studies will further help us to address this complex research question.”

The team’s findings, presented today at the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ International Congress, demonstrate that the co-occurrence of depression and type 2 diabetes may be genetic in origin and could have significant clinical importance.

Dr Kan will be presenting her work in Session DB2 (The interface between diabetes and psychiatric disorders) at the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ International Conference at 17.05 on Monday 27 June at the International Convention Centre (ICC) at Excel London.