American researchers from the National Institutes of Health have discovered a two-way link between depression and gestational diabetes, a type of diabetes that occurs only in pregnant women.
Researchers found that women who reported suffering from depression during the first six months of pregnancy were nearly twice as likely to develop gestational diabetes.
In addition a separate study found the converse to be true, where women who developed gestational diabetes during pregnancy were more likely to report postpartum depression six weeks after giving birth.
Both studies were published in the peer reviewed journal Diabetologia.
What’s interesting to note is that although the risk of developing gestational diabetes is higher among obese people, the study found that the likelihood of developing gestational diabetes was actually higher in non-obese women struggling with depression than it was in obese women who also suffered from depression.
Researchers analysed pregnancy records of 2 334 non-obese and 468 obese women and tracked their responses to surveys around symptoms of depression at the beginning of the study, between the 16th and 22nd week of pregnancy and then six weeks after giving birth.
“Of particular note, persistent depression from the first to second trimester set women at even greater risk for gestational diabetes,” said senior study author Dr Cuilin Zhang.
Women who had the highest depression score in the first two trimesters of their pregnancy were found to be nearly three times more likely to develop gestational diabetes compared to women who had lower depression scores.
Of the women who developed diabetes during pregnancy, almost 15% of them experienced depressive symptoms after giving birth, more than four times that of women who didn’t develop gestational diabetes.
Depression, however, didn’t appear to increase the risk for gestational diabetes in obese women.
“Our data suggest that depression and gestational diabetes may occur together,” said Dr Stefanie Hinkle, the study’s first author.
“Until we learn more, physicians may want to consider observing pregnant women with depressive symptoms for signs of postpartum depression.”