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Table of Contents
Year : 2020  |  Volume : 24  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 295-300

Antidepressant use and glycemic control in diabetic population: A meta-analysis

1 Department of Community and Family Medicine, AIIMS, Rishikesh, Uttarakhand, India
2 Department of Medicine, AIIMS, Rishikesh, Uttarakhand, India

Date of Submission04-May-2020
Date of Decision14-May-2020
Date of Acceptance03-Jun-2020
Date of Web Publication27-Aug-2020

Correspondence Address:
Meenakshi Khapre
Department of CFM, AIIMS, Rishikesh - 249 203, Uttarakhand
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijem.IJEM_258_20

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Background: Depression is prevalent in the diabetic population. Primary care physician is busy in treating diabetes and depression among them goes unnoticed. According to the American Diabetic Association, two out of three are not able to achieve glycaemic control. Diabetes and depression both share complex cause-effect relationship. Objectives: To evaluate the effect of antidepressants on glycaemic control among the adult diabetic population suffering from depression. Method: Cochrane database was systematically searched with search strategy andonly parallel randomized clinical trial with antidepressant and placebo group were considered. Outcome measures were HbA1c, Fasting blood glucose, weight, body mass index, treatment adherence. Data extraction form were adapted from Cochrane. Two researchers identified studies and extracted data independently. Revman was used for meta-analysis and risk of bias. Level of evidence was generated using Gradepro. Results: Out of 394 studies, six studies fulfilling the eligibility criteria were pooled for analysis. Using mean difference (MD), meta-analysis showed significant evidence of glycaemic control in favor of antidepressant treated diabetic population compared to placebo group (n = 6 studies) (MD = -0.32%; 95% CI = -0.57 to 0.08).Weight, BMI does not show a any significant mean difference between two groups. Conclusions and Implications of Key Findings: There is moderate level of evidence that antidepressants improve the glycaemic control in diabetic population suffering from depression. Understanding and treating the mental and psychological determinant with adequate control of depression should be emphasized for the diabetic population.

Keywords: Antidepressant, BMI, depression, diabetes, glycaemic control

How to cite this article:
Khapre M, Kant R, Sharma D, Sharma A. Antidepressant use and glycemic control in diabetic population: A meta-analysis. Indian J Endocr Metab 2020;24:295-300

How to cite this URL:
Khapre M, Kant R, Sharma D, Sharma A. Antidepressant use and glycemic control in diabetic population: A meta-analysis. Indian J Endocr Metab [serial online] 2020 [cited 2021 Sep 26];24:295-300. Available from: https://www.ijem.in/text.asp?2020/24/4/295/293602

   Introduction Top

According to the International Diabetes Federation, diabetes is rapidly becoming a global health emergency. Estimated number of people having diabetes in 2019 is 463 million that will be 578 million by 2030, and 700 million by 2045.[1] Depression is a common illness which is affecting more than 260 million people worldwide irrespective of the age group.[2] One out of every four patients with type 1 or type 2 diabetes mellitus is found to be having clinical depression.[3],[4],[5] The occurrence of diabetes and depression in combination can lead to poor outcome in both conditions and pose a big clinical challenge. Depression in diabetes is both persistent and recurrent. It can affect the quality of life, impairing self-management of diabetes, and enhancing the occurrence of various complications and ultimately affecting the life expectancy of the individual.[6]

Doctors focus on psychological health is reported very low that ultimately affects the treatment part.[7],[8],[9] It is important to focus upon the confirmed diagnosis of depression, which should be a lead to a treatment plan and continuous monitoring of the patient. Depressed patient may not be able to regularly comply with their treatment regimen, which can result in poor glycaemic control making them prone to various macro and microvascular complications.[3],[7],[9]

In a general practice setting, two of every three patients are not able to maintain the level of glycaemic control as recommended by the American Diabetes Association (A1c < 7.0%), even with intensive treatment and systematic follow-up.[10] Therefore, the American Diabetes Association in its clinical practice guidelines invites the use of complementary treatments including depression treatment and stress reduction that supports good glycaemic control.[11] Limited Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) with small sample size are available to support the efficacy of antidepressants in glycaemic control.[3],[10],[12],[13],[14],[15],[16] The result of which remains inconclusive due to small sample size. Therefore, in the present study we want to pool the data and give recommendations on the importance of identifying and treating diabetic population suffering from depression with antidepressants and its effect on glycaemic control.


The main aim of this systematic review and meta-analysis is to evaluate the effect of antidepressants on glycaemic value among the adult diabetic population screened positive or diagnosed with some form of depression.

   Methodology Top

This review adheres to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis (PRISMA) 2009 guidelines.[17] (Additional file 1).

Data source and search strategy

To identify eligible studies on the effect of antidepressants on glycaemic value among the adult diabetic population diagnosed with clinical depression, we implemented a comprehensive computerized search of Cochrane library, till Dec 30, 2019, using variant Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) and free-text (Text) terms. The detailed search strategy is presented in an additional box file (Additional file 2). As only RCTs were decided to be included we searched only Cochrane as Pubmed and Embase databases are already included in Cochrane or it will lead to unnecessary duplications.

We defined the participants, intervention, comparator, outcome(s), and type of study “PICO (T)". The PICO (T) statement provides the framework for the identification and selection of studies for inclusion.

Inclusion and exclusion criteria


Adults (aged ≥18 years) with diabetes and screened positive or diagnosed with some form of depression, already on an anti-diabetic drug since last 6 months. Positive test on any validated screening tool for assessing the depression or diagnosis done using DSM IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition) criteria or as confirmed by psychiatrist or psychologist was considered to be case of depression for this study.


Antidepressant medications like Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors and Tricyclic antidepressants.


Placebo (no active drug).


  1. Primary outcome: Effect on glycaemic value (HbA1c)
  2. Secondary outcome: Effect on Fasting blood glucose (FBG), weight, body mass index (BMI), treatment adherence.

Types of studies

This systematic review included only RCTs reported in English. We excluded studies with pre and post-intervention, cross over trials, and cluster randomised trials. We excluded the studies with self-reported depression among diabetic population without any screening/diagnostic tools. We also excluded studies before 2000 with no access to full text and for studies after 2000 we tried to contact the authors twice before exclusion. We excluded studies in combination with psychological intervention.

Identifying eligible studies

Titles and abstracts were screened independently by two reviewers (MK and DS) as per eligibility criteria. Initially, studies were screened by title and abstract using Rayyan (http://rayyan.qcri.org), a free web-based software.[18] Full-texts of the identified potentially eligible studies were thoroughly screened and independently assessed by the reviewers. The qualities of the extracted studies were also independently assessed by two reviewers (MK and DS). Discrepancies in data extraction were discussed and resolved. The PRISMA flow chart for the selection of studies is shown in [Figure 1].
Figure 1: Study inclusion flow chart

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Data extraction

Data from fully eligible studies were extracted into a pre-defined data extraction excel file adapted from Cochrane.[19] We extracted the following data on the baseline characteristics of the eligible research reports (author names, year of publication, country, city, and study setting), study methodology (design, time period, sampling strategy, and diagnostic methodology for depression), and study population (type of diabetes). For each outcome of interest (Number of participants allocated to each intervention arm, Missing participants, Summary data for each intervention group).

The outcome measure was entered in terms of mean and Standard deviation (SD). In studies where change score is mentioned from baseline to end of the study in both the groups, then change score was considered for meta-analysis. In studies with only end results mentioned, only final value was considered for analysis in terms of mean (SD). For treatment adherence proportion was entered. All the data were double-checked.

Of any missing statistics then an attempt was made to collect from the author or calculate using Revman calculator tool. If data is still missing then it was reported in narrative form.

Evaluation of the risk of bias and data analysis

The use of intention-to-treat analysis in a study was considered as a confirmation that the number of randomized participants was the same as the number of analyzed participants. Studies without this characteristic were considered not to meet this criterion.

Cochrane risk of bias assessment tool was used to evaluate each study rated from high risk to low risk.[20] Quality of evidence for each outcome across the studies is done by Grade pro DT.[21] Any disagreements were recorded and resolved by involvement of an additional reviewer (RK and AS).

Meta-analysis was performed using the fixed-effects model and effect measures were calculated as the mean difference (MD) between two groups as all outcome variables were measured in similar scales across studies. An α value = 0.05 was considered statistically significant. Statistical heterogeneity of treatment effect across studies was assessed using the inconsistency I2 test, in which values less than 40% and 30–60% were considered to be indicative of might not be important and moderate heterogeneity, respectively.[22] Subgroup analysis was done for studies with type 2 diabetes only if heterogeneity is found to higher than 40%. All analyses were conducted with the software Review Manager, version 5.3 (RevMan 5; Cochrane Collaboration, Oxford, UK).

   Results Top

A total of 394 articles were searched from the Cochrane database. A total of 385 articles were selected after removing duplicates. Thirty-eight articles were assessed for full-text eligibility of which 6 were finally selected for meta-analysis. Detail flow chart is given in [Figure 2]. Characteristics of included studies are given in [Table 1]. Out of six studies, three studies exclusively included only type 2 diabetic patient and one included 99% of type 2 diabetic populations. Studies defined depression by various screening/diagnostic tools including varying severity of depression. Three studies examined fluoxetine versus placebo, one study studied paroxetine, sertraline, and citalopram each. Study duration ranged from 8 weeks to 52 weeks.
Figure 2: Forest plot showing HbA1c comparison in antidepressant and placebo group of depressed diabetic population

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Table 1: Characteristics of the included studies

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Forest plot showing HbA1c comparison in antidepressant and placebo group of diabetic population suffering from depression is shown in [Figure 1]. The confidence interval (CI) of all the six studies were overlapping, heterogeneity by I2 was 32%. The pooled estimate shows that Mean difference (MD) of HbA1c is 0.32% lower (-0.57 to -0.08) in the antidepressant group compared to placebo. Subgroup analysis of studies[13],[14],[15],[16] (n = 4) with mainly type 2 diabetic population further lowers the heterogeneity to 16%. MD was further lowered to 0.42% in the antidepressant group compared to placebo. Risk of bias was low in all the studies. We cannot generate a funnel plot due to small number of studies.

No significant mean difference of weight was found in pooled estimates of three studies.[3],[13],[15] Only two studies Nicolau and Paile studied BMI among two groups. There was substantial heterogeneity where Nicolau et al.[16] reported a decrease in BMI by 3.7 kg/m2 with very wide CI (-7 to -0.4) while Paile-Hyvarinen et al. (2003)[15] not demonstrated any significant MD in between two groups. None of the included studies reported treatment adherence at the end of the study period.

[Table 2] demonstrates a summary of finding table of included studies. Pooled estimate of six studies calculated MD for HbA1c is 0.32% lower (0.57 lower to 0.08 lower) with a moderate level of evidence.
Table 2: Summary of findings tables

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   Discussion Top

Depression is prevalent in diabetes population due to demanding lifestyle changes. However mild depression usually goes unnoticed and primary care physician is busy in managing diabetes by anti-diabetic drugs only. The key finding of present meta-analysis shows that HBA1c is 0.32% lower in the group treated with antidepressant compared to those treated with placebo. The level of evidence was moderate. This is similar to the finding of metanalysis published in 2012 on five trial with 238 participants demonstrated improved glycaemic control in the short term mean difference (MD) for glycosylated hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) -0.4%; (95% CI -0.6 to -0.1; P = 0.002).[23] This study included psychological and pharmacological intervention while the present study includes solely antidepressant drugs without any other intervention. A large retrospective study by Brieler et al. also supported the fact that depressed patients receiving Anti Depressant Medications (ADM) were twice as likely as those not receiving ADM to achieve good glycaemic control.[24]

Subgroup analysis of studies with type 2 diabetes only shows a greater improvement of HbA1c level by 0.15% (0.32% and 0.47%) compared to pooled data of all studies. Pharmacotherapy for depression in type 2 diabetes is associated with better glycaemic control. Observed improvements in HbA1c may occur through antidepressant effects on mood or via direct drug effects, or both. Depression increases the diabetes risk by behavioral mechanisms, psycho-neurohormonal mechanisms, or both.[25] Remission of depression might then lead to improved adherence to antihyperglycemic medication and increased health behaviors. Meta-analysis has not shown a significant effect for non-pharmacologic treatment of depression on HbA1c.[23] Silva and colleagues[26] review evidence that SSRIs have been shown to reduce hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis hyperactivity that may be evidence for a direct ADM contribution to glycaemic control interventions resulting in increased physical activity improve depression and glycaemic control.

Fasting blood glucose was considered in only one study (Paile 2003) that showed significant improvement in both the group may be due to Hawthorne effect.[15] However, FBS may incidentally vary a lot and may also be affected by duration of fasting so HbA1c is a better parameter to assess control over past 8–12 weeks.

The difference in pooled estimated means of weight (3 trials) in antidepressant and placebo group was not found to be significant. Only two trials reported BMI but heterogeneity is more than 50% to pool study estimates together. Heterogeneity may be due to different study duration that is 10 weeks to 6 months or effect of a different class of antidepressant on weight. Meta-analysis study by Serretti and Laura (2009)

showed that the effect of antidepressants on weight varies. The effect also depends on the individual characteristics and becomes more evident in long term to a variable degree across compounds.[27] None of the studies had studied other confounders like treatment and lifestyle adherence.

Strength and limitations

Though the risk of bias in all included studies was low, the result was based on studies with small sample sizes with wide CI. We limited our search for Cochrane (includes both PubMed and embase) database. RCTs related to antidepressant and diabetes are limited and effect of treatment adherence in not being considered in any of the included studies. None of the above studies includes long term follow up more than 6 months so we could only confirm short term effect of antidepressant therapy on glycaemic control in diabetics suffering from depression. Publication bias cannot be ascertained.

   Conclusion Top

There is a moderate level of evidence that antidepressants treatment among depressed diabetic population leads to improved glycaemic control. There is no significant difference in pooled FBG, weight, and BMI measured at the end of study in antidepressant and placebo group. Our results support the emphasis on early recognition and prompt pharmacological treatment and control of depression in diabetes population to achieve better glycaemic control.

Author contribution

Study conception/design: MK, DS, RK, data collection: MK, DS data analysis, and interpretation: MK, Drafting Manuscript: MK, Revising manuscript: MK, AS, Approval of final version of the manuscript for publication: MK, DS, RK, AS, responsibility for accuracy and integrity of all aspects of research involvement in drafting or revising the manuscript; MK, DS, RK, AS, acquisition of funding: NA

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

Additional file 1

Additional file 2

Search methods for identification of studies

Electronic searches (Cochrane)

#17 (diabet*):ti, ab, kw (Word variations have been searched)

#18 MeSH descriptor: [Diabetes Mellitus] explode all trees

#19 ("antidepress*"):ti, ab, kw OR ("norepinephrine"):ti, ab, kw OR ("Fluoxetin*"):ti, ab, kw OR ("olanzapine"):ti, ab, kw OR ("serotonin"):ti, ab, kw (Word variations have been searched)

#20 ("dopamine"):ti, ab, kw OR ("nortryptiline")(Word variations have been searched)

#21 #19 or #20

#22 #17 or #18

#23 #21 and #22

#24 ("glycaemic"):ti, ab, kw OR ("HbA1c"):ti, ab, kw (Word variations have been searched)

#25 MeSH descriptor: [Glycemic Index] explode all trees

#26 #24 or 25

#27 #23 and #26

   References Top

International Diabetes Federation. IDF Diabetes Atlas 9th edition 2019 [Internet]. [cited 2020 Mar 16]. Available from: https://www.diabetesatlas.org/en/.  Back to cited text no. 1
WHO. Depression [Internet]. [cited 2020 Mar 16]. Available from: https://www.who.int/westernpacific/health-topics/depression.  Back to cited text no. 2
Lustman PJ, Freedland KE, Griffith LS, Clouse RE. Fluoxetine for depression in diabetes: A randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial. Diabetes Care 2000;23:618-23.  Back to cited text no. 3
Lustman PJ, Clouse RE, Nix BD, Freedland KE, Rubin EH, McGill JB, et al. Sertraline for prevention of depression recurrence in diabetes mellitus: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Arch Gen Psychiatry 2006;63:521-9.  Back to cited text no. 4
Andreoulakis E, Hyphantis T, Kandylis D, Iacovides A. Depression in diabetes mellitus: A comprehensive review. Hippokratia 2012;16:205-14.  Back to cited text no. 5
Holt RIG, de Groot M, Golden SH. Diabetes and depression. Curr Diab Rep 2014;14:491.  Back to cited text no. 6
Arambewela MH, Somasundaram NP, Jayasekara HBPR, Kumbukage MP. Prevalence of depression and associated factors among patients with type 2 diabetes attending the diabetic clinic at a Tertiary care hospital in Sri Lanka: A descriptive study. Psychiatry J 2019;2019:e7468363.  Back to cited text no. 7
Hermanns N, Caputo S, Dzida G, Khunti K, Meneghini LF, Snoek F. Screening, evaluation and management of depression in people with diabetes in primary care. Prim Care Diabetes 2013;7:1-10.  Back to cited text no. 8
Petrak F, Röhrig B, Ismail K. Depression and diabetes. In: Feingold KR, Anawalt B, Boyce A, Chrousos G, Dungan K, Grossman A, et al. Editors. Endotext. South Dartmouth (MA): MDText.com, Inc.; 2000.  Back to cited text no. 9
Lustman PJ, Clouse RE. Depression in diabetic patients: The relationship between mood and glycemic control. J Diabetes Complications 2005;19:113-22.  Back to cited text no. 10
American Diabetes Association. Standards of medical care in diabetes. Diabetes Care 2015;38(Supplement 1):S1-2.  Back to cited text no. 11
Lustman PJ, Griffith LS, Clouse RE, Freedland KE, Eisen SA, Rubin EH, et al. Effects of nortriptyline on depression and glycemic control in diabetes: Results of a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Psychosom Med 1997;59:241-50.  Back to cited text no. 12
Echeverry D, Duran P, Bonds C, Lee M, Davidson MB. Effect of pharmacological treatment of depression on A1C and quality of life in low-income hispanics and African Americans with diabetes: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Diabetes Care 2009;32:2156-60.  Back to cited text no. 13
Paile-Hyvärinen M, Wahlbeck K, Eriksson JG. Quality of life and metabolic status in mildly depressed patients with type 2 diabetes treated with paroxetine: A double-blind randomised placebo controlled 6-month trial. BMC Fam Pract 2007;8:34.  Back to cited text no. 14
Paile-Hyvärinen M, Wahlbeck K, Eriksson JG. Quality of life and metabolic status in mildly depressed women with type 2 diabetes treated with paroxetine: A single-blind randomised placebo controlled trial. BMC Fam Pract 2003;4:7.  Back to cited text no. 15
Nicolau J, Rivera R, Frances C, Chacartegui B, Masmiquel L. Treatment of depression in type 2 diabetic patients: Effects on depressive symptoms, quality of life and metabolic control. Diabetes Res Clin Pract 2013;101:148-52.  Back to cited text no. 16
Moher D, Liberati A, Tetzlaff J, Altman DG, Group TP. Preferred reporting items for systematic reviews and meta-analyses: The PRISMA statement. PLoS Med 2009;6:e1000097.  Back to cited text no. 17
Ouzzani M, Hammady H, Fedorowicz Z, Elmagarmid A. Rayyan -”xs a web and mobile app for systematic reviews. Sys Rev 2016;5:210.  Back to cited text no. 18
Effective Practice and Organisation of Care (EPOC). Data Collection Form. EPOC Resources for Review Authors. Oslo: Norwegian Knowledge Centre for the Health Services; 2013.  Back to cited text no. 19
Sterne JAC, Savović J, Page MJ, Elbers RG, Blencowe NS, Boutron I, et al. RoB 2: A revised tool for assessing risk of bias in randomised trials. BMJ 2019;366:l4898.  Back to cited text no. 20
Grade working group. GRADEpro GDT: GRADEpro Guideline Development Tool [Software]. McMaster University, 2015 (developed by Evidence Prime, Inc.). [Internet]. Available from gradepro.org. [Last accessed on 2020 Mar 10].  Back to cited text no. 21
Holger Schünemann, Jan Brożek, Gordon Guyatt, Andrew Oxman, and other grade working group. Handbook for grading the quality of evidence and the strength of recommendations using the GRADE approach. [Internet]. 2013. Available from: https://gdt.gradepro.org/app/handbook/handbook.html#h.g2dqzi9je57e. [Last accessed on 2020 Mar 13].  Back to cited text no. 22
Baumeister H, Hutter N, Bengel J. Psychological and pharmacological interventions for depression in patients with diabetes mellitus: an abridged Cochrane review. Diabetic Medicine. 2014;31:773-86.  Back to cited text no. 23
Brieler JA, Lustman PJ, Scherrer JF, Salas J, Schneider FD. Antidepressant medication use and glycaemic control in co-morbid type 2 diabetes and depression. Fam Pract 2016;33:30-6.  Back to cited text no. 24
Rubin RR, Ma Y, Peyrot M, Marrero DG, Price DW, Barrett-Connor E, et al. Antidepressant medicine use and risk of developing diabetes during the diabetes prevention program and diabetes prevention program outcomes study. Diabetes Care 2010;33:2549-51.  Back to cited text no. 25
Silva N, Atlantis E, Ismail K. 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? Curr Psychiatry Rep 2012;14:8-14.  Back to cited text no. 26
Serretti A, Mandelli L. Antidepressants and body weight: A comprehensive review and meta-analysis. J Clin Psychiatry 2010;71:1259-72.  Back to cited text no. 27


  [Figure 1], [Figure 2]

  [Table 1], [Table 2]

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