Stanford study finds insulin resistance has huge impact on depression risk

Resistance to the hormone insulin may double one's risk of developing major depressive disorder, according to a new study from Stanford University. Insulin resistance is a common issue that involves a change in how the body responds to the hormone, leading to higher blood sugar and, potentially, type-2 diabetes. Both health and lifestyle factors can play a role in the condition.

Insulin resistance has become a common issue in the Western world, a problem fueled by easy access to sugary processed foods combined with increasingly sedentary lifestyles. In addition, some health conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome may increase one's risk of insulin resistance, leading to other health complications.

When compared to someone who isn't insulin resistant, the new Stanford study found that people who are insulin resistant have double the risk of developing major depressive disorder (MDD), which can include feelings of despair and sadness, trouble sleeping, and more.

An analysis of data on adults found that a moderate boost in insulin resistance was linked to an 89-percent increase in the risk of developing MDD. The findings indicate that insulin resistance isn't only a risk factor for serious issues like type-2 diabetes, but can also have a big impact on mental health, at least when it comes to depression. The good news is that insulin resistance can be treated.

Lifestyle interventions like changing one's diet and getting more exercise can reduce or eliminate insulin resistance in many people. In some cases, medication may also be prescribed. The tricky part is that many people experience insulin resistance without realizing it, making it important to get tested for the issue to address it before it becomes a bigger problem.