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National Survey on Drug Use and Health
May 04, 2017
1 in 7 Adolescents with Diabetes Experienced a Major Depressive Episode in the Past Year
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Past Year MDE Among Adolescents Aged 12 to 17 by Lifetime Diabetes Status: 2005 to 2014 NSDUH

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Diabetes and depression are both common health conditions among adolescents. Data from the 2005 to 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) shows that about 1 in 11 adolescents aged 12 to 17 had a major depressive episode (MDE) in the past year.1 MDE among adolescents is defined a period of at least 2 weeks during which they had either depressed mood or loss of interest in usual activities and also experienced a change in functioning, such as problems with sleep, eating, energy, concentration, and self-worth.Adolescents who have had diabetes in their lifetime were more likely to have past year MDE compared to those without diabetes (14.3 vs. 9.0 percent). Having diabetes may increase the likelihood of developing depressive symptoms, and having depression may impact the management of diabetes.2

Assessing the relationship between diabetes and depression is complicated because NSDUH data do not identify which health concern came first. Examining the association between diabetes and depression among adolescents may inform prevention and treatment efforts. For example, understanding this connection may help parents, schools, and pediatric care providers focus earlier on recognizing signs and symptoms of depression in young patients with diabetes. SAMHSA resources to help recognize the signs of adolescent depression and to locate mental health services are available at: and  

1. MDE is based on diagnostic criteria from Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV. For more information, see the 2014 NSDUH mental health detailed tables available at

2. Hood, K. K., Rausch, J. R., & Dolan, L. M. (2011). Depressive symptoms predict change in glycemic control in adolescents with type 1 diabetes: Rates, magnitude, and moderators of change. Pediatric Diabetes, 12(8), 718-723. doi:10.1111/j.1399-5448.2011.00771.x