Gestational Diabetes Linked To Depression, Says Researchers

Last modified: August 2, 2019

Richard Honaker M.D.
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New study finds two-way link between gestational diabetes and depression. If you are pregnant, or planning pregnancy, pay extra attention. Your health, and the health of your baby may be at risk.

Gestational diabetes mellitus, or GDM, is a serious medical condition for pregnant women. The cause is unknown, and this condition could affect your health long after pregnancy, and your baby too.

Here are a few quick statistics on gestational diabetes women need to know:

  • Prevalence is as high as 9.2 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
  • New guidelines suggest 16 percent of pregnant women will be diagnosed with GDM.
  • 70 to 80 percent of women with GDM will develop type 2 diabetes after pregnancy.
  • Women 25 and older are at risk.
  • Women 35 and older are at increased risk.
  • Depression and GDM are linked.

How Gestational Diabetes Affects You and Your Baby’s Health

Gestational diabetes commonly affects expecting mothers in late pregnancy. Your doctor or OBGYN will test you between week 24 and 28 of your pregnancy.

If you are diagnosed with GDM there are several health issues to face. “Blood sugar that is not well controlled in a woman with gestational diabetes can lead to problems for the pregnant woman and the baby,” explains the CDC.

These problems outlined by the CDC include:

  • An extra large baby (macrosomia)
  • C-section (cesarean section)
  • High blood pressure (preeclampsia)
  • Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Depression

Gestational Diabetes Linked To Depression, Says Researchers

Gestational Diabetes and Depression Link Found in New Study

Researchers from the National Institute of Health (NIH) found a link between gestational diabetes and depression. The study, published online in Diabetologia (2016), found that women who experienced depression during the first two trimesters were twice as likely to be diagnosed with GDM.

Interestingly, women who in fact developed GDM were at increased risk of experiencing postpartum depression six weeks after birth. These finding were compared to a test group who were not diagnosed with GDM or depression.

“Until we learn more, physicians may want to consider observing pregnant women with depressive symptoms for signs of gestational diabetes,” suggests Dr. Stefanie Hinkle, researcher at the NIH and coauthor of the study.

Obesity increases your risk for GDM. However, the study found that non-obese women who experienced depression were at higher risk.

“They also may want to monitor women who have had gestational diabetes for signs of postpartum depression,” Dr. Hinkle adds.

Gestational Diabetes Linked To Depression, Says Researchers

5 Tips to Reduce Your Risk of Gestational Diabetes and Depression

Lifestyle choices often have a lot to do with how your pregnancy will go. Reducing your risk for gestational diabetes and depression should be at the top of every expecting mother’s pregnancy “to do” list.

Here are five tips that may help you have a healthy pregnancy, and baby:

  • Eat healthy and maintain a healthy weight.
  • Exercise on a regular basis (check with a doctor to ensure you are healthy to exercise).
  • Monitor your blood sugar.
  • Take insulin if prescribed by your doctor.
  • Get a diabetes test 6 to 12 weeks after birth

You certainly want to begin healthy habits long before you are ready to conceive. And continue them throughout the pregnancy. Talk to your OBGYN, or talk to a doctor online to find out more.

Submitted by Dr. Richard Honaker:

Disclaimer: This article provides general information and is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease or medical condition. If you require specific advice, please consult one of our medical professionals through the app. However, in case of an emergency, please call 911.

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