A new study from Italy has found that there are links between certain diabetic complications such as neuropathy and depression that are strong enough to use as indicators for mental health conditions.

This means that depression should be able to be picked up on more readily, if we know that their complications can indicate a high risk.

The investigation, carried out by researchers at the University of Rom Tor Vergata, looked at the independent effect on depression of painless and painful diabetic neuropathy.

The incidence of depression and neuropathy was assessed in 181 patients. Of these, 46 patients had painless diabetic neuropathy and 25 had painful neuropathy. Mild, moderate, or severe levels of depression were found in 36 participants.

The results found not only that painful neuropathy was the strongest indicator of those who were likely to suffer om depression, but also that being female boosted the chances of the condition.

Painless neuropathy was also found to have a similar link to depression as painful neuropathy although, predictably, the painful version had a much stronger link, as the condition is more likely to wear down on someone’s mental health if it is causing them pain.

Knowing which complications are linked to depression can be useful for doctors, who may be treating someone with, for example, painful neuropathy, but the patients may not express that they are also suffering symptoms of depression. If this was the case, knowing the link between the two, the doctor would be able to ask, diagnose, and begin treatment for depression.

Treating depression earlier on could have the benefit of preventing diabetes burnout, and improving blood glucose management, improving both short-term and long-term health.