Diabetes, depression, and kidney disease are distinctly separate conditions, but they have a connection. They often occur together.

It’s important to remember that depression is a treatable medical condition, just like diabetes and kidney disease.

Diabetes can make depression worse, and vice versa. They can both contribute to the onset of kidney disease.

Black and Latinx communities have a higher chance of developing kidney disease, as well as higher rates of diabetes and depression. One reason for this may be inequities in healthcare.

If you have diabetes and depression, understanding their connection to kidney disease can help you take steps to protect yourself.

Diabetes and depression sometimes occur together. The challenge of living with diabetes can contribute to mental health issues, which can make managing your diabetes feel too overwhelming.

There’s also a link between depression and diabetes-related blood vessel changes in the brain, according to research.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate that people living with diabetes are two to three times more likely to experience depression than those without.

Not everyone gets diagnosed, but those who participate in treatment for depression often experience benefits.

Depression symptoms include:

  • loss of interest in activities you previously enjoyed
  • persistent sadness or emptiness
  • recurring fatigue
  • appetite changes
  • sleep disruption
  • physical signs, like bowel changes, headaches, and feeling achy
  • trouble concentrating
  • mood changes
  • thoughts of death or suicide

Seek medical help immediately if you’re considering acting on suicidal thoughts. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24/7 at 800-273-8255.

But depression treatment involving medication and therapy is often successful.

Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes increase the chance of chronic kidney disease (CKD). Around 1 in 3 adults who live with diabetes also have CKD.

Diabetes causes several issues that can lead to CKD:

  • high blood sugar
  • high blood pressure
  • high cholesterol

It begins with persistently high blood sugar, which can stiffen and damage your blood vessel walls. This increases blood pressure.

High blood sugar can also cause changes to your cholesterol levels, making your good cholesterol too low, and your bad cholesterol too high.

If your blood sugar, pressure, and cholesterol are all too high, this can interfere with the blood vessels that supply your kidneys. This can cause CKD.

While diabetes is a known contributor to kidney problems, adding depression to the equation increases your chance of developing CKD.

A 2016 study of U.S. veterans with diabetes found that those who lived with co-occurring depression had a 20 percent higher chance of developing chronic kidney disease. Depression in the study participants also increased their chance of all causes of death.

A 2021 study examined the effect of depression on existing kidney disease. It followed 486 people with type 2 diabetes and kidney disease, grouped according to their level of depression. The study found that depression increased the chance of progression to end stage renal disease by 12.4 percent for mild depression, and 45.1 percent for severe.

Even though diabetes makes life more challenging, there are still strategies you can try to manage depression.

Depression treatment

Therapy and medication bring relief to many people living with depression. You can try one or the other, or both.

Therapy teaches you skills to manage unhelpful thought patterns. Medication can increase your energy and mood enough so that practicing self-care is easier.

Lifestyle changes

Certain lifestyle changes, including creating healthy routines, can positively impact your mental health. Eating nutritious food as often as you can and getting regular exercise are two examples.

A consistent sleep schedule can also help, plus stress-reducing activities like mindfulness exercises or a new hobby.

Personal connections

Family, close friends, and healthcare professionals are examples of people you can talk to about how you’ve been feeling. Starting these conversations can bring you beneficial support.

Kidney disease usually takes time to develop, and it’s often preventable.

Comprehensive treatment

Partnering with your healthcare professional to treat both diabetes and depression can protect your kidney health.

You may have a diabetes and kidney care plan in place. However, depression may interfere, unless your doctor knows you need mental health support too.


It’s helpful to learn everything you can about CKD and how to prevent it. Some important strategies include:

  • quit smoking
  • follow your diabetes nutrition plan
  • avoid excess salt
  • exercise
  • maintain a moderate weight

It benefits your health to follow as many kidney-care recommendations as you can. Even if it feels overwhelming, making one change at a time can still help.


Even if you develop CKD, you can still live a long life. Not everyone who is diagnosed ends up in kidney failure, also known as end stage renal disease (ESRD).

Kidney disease usually has no symptoms early on. Many people aren’t aware they have it until they need dialysis.

Routine screening allows you to prevent ESRD by catching kidney disease early enough to slow or stop its progression. Healthcare professionals use blood and urine testing to screen for CKD.

Depression and diabetes can impact each other. They both contribute to chronic kidney disease.

African American and Latinx people can experience healthcare inequities that may contribute to a higher chance of diabetes, depression, and kidney disease.

All three conditions are treatable. Treatment for even one condition can improve the others.

For example, depression treatment can give you the energy and motivation to stick to your diabetes care plan. This can slow down or even stop the progression of your CKD.

You don’t have to face any of this alone. A healthcare professional can work with you to create a treatment plan for all three conditions.

Help is out there

If you or someone you know is in crisis and considering suicide or self-harm, please seek support:

If you’re calling on behalf of someone else, stay with them until help arrives. You may remove weapons or substances that can cause harm if you can do so safely.

If you are not in the same household, stay on the phone with them until help arrives.

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