Current Psychiatry Reports

, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp 8-14

First online:

A Review of the Association Between Depression and Insulin Resistance: Pitfalls of Secondary Analyses or a Promising New Approach to Prevention of Type 2 Diabetes?

  • Naomi SilvaAffiliated withSchool of Medicine, King’s College London
  • , Evan AtlantisAffiliated withSchool of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Adelaide
  • , Khalida IsmailAffiliated withInstitute of Psychiatry, King’s College London Email author 

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We review the validity of the evidence for an association between depression and the risk of insulin resistance (IR). We describe the potentially plausible biological and behavioral mechanisms that explain how depression increases the risk of IR and consequent overt diabetes. We have identified gaps in the literature to guide future research. Evidence for bidirectional associations between depression and IR is inconsistent. Results showing positive associations between depression and IR are derived from cross-sectional studies, whereas negative findings are typically reported in cohort studies. On the other hand, tentative trial evidence suggests that the effective treatment of depression can improve IR, and that lifestyle programs improve IR and reduce depressive symptoms. These emerging themes could lead to potential new multidisciplinary approaches to preventing diabetes.


Diabetes Depression Insulin resistance (IR) Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis Homeostatic model assessment (HOMA) Type 2 diabetes Prevention