American Diabetes Association
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Spouse’s Diabetes Status and Incidence of Depression and Anxiety: An 18-Year Prospective Study

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posted on 2021-04-16, 21:59 authored by Jannie Nielsen, Solveig A. Cunningham, Mohammed K. Ali, Shivani A. Patel

We investigated the risk of depression and/or anxiety in people whose spouse did or did not have diabetes. We also examined associations between depression and/or anxiety and severity of spouse’s diabetes.


We analyzed prospective self-reported data about diagnosed depression/anxiety and diabetes in cohabiting couples in the national Panel Study of Income Dynamics, 1999-2017 (n=13,500, 128,833 person-years of follow-up, median follow-up: 8.1 years). We used Poisson models to estimate incidence and incidence rate ratios (IRRs) of depression/anxiety, according to spouse’s diabetes status overall and by severity of diabetes.


Age-, sex- and race- adjusted incidence of depression/anxiety was 8.0/1000 person-years (95%CI: 6.5, 9.6) among those whose spouse had diabetes and 6.5/1000 person-years (95%CI, 6.0, 6.9) among those whose spouse did not have diabetes. Those whose spouse had diabetes had higher risk of depression/anxiety (IRR: 1.24, 95%CI: 1.01;1.53). Those whose spouse had diabetes-related limitations in daily activities (IRR: 1.89, 95%CI: 1.35, 2.67) and diabetes combined with other chronic conditions (IRR: 2.34, 95%CI: 1.78, 3.09) were more likely to develop depression/anxiety, while those whose spouse had diabetes with no limitations or additional chronic conditions had similar incidence of depression/anxiety to those whose spouses did not have diabetes.


People living with a spouse with diabetes are at higher risk of developing anxiety/depression than people whose spouse does not have diabetes; this risk is driven by the severity of the spouse’s diabetes. Strategies to address the impacts of diabetes on families need to be devised and tested.


JN’s was supported by Independent Research Fund Denmark (DFF – 7025-00053B). SAC, SAP and MKA are supported by P30 grants from National Institute of Diabetes And Digestive And Kidney Diseases of the National Institutes of Health (P30DK111024 [SAC, MKA, SAP]; P30DK111024-04S2 [SAP]). The founders had no role in the study design, data analysis, decision to publish or preparation of the manuscript. The collection of data used in this study was partly supported by the National Institutes of Health under grant number R01 HD069609 and R01 AG040213, and the National Science Foundation under award numbers SES 1157698 and 1623684.