Depression More Common in Workers with Diabetes

August 25, 2021
NIOSH Update:

Contact: Stephanie Stevens,, 202.245.0641

Depression More Common in Workers with DiabetesYoung adults and women in the workforce most at risk

Diabetes affects more than 34 million adults in the U.S. Now, a new study from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has found that workers with diabetes may be at increased risk for depression. Among workers with diabetes, young adults and women are most likely to experience depression. The study was published online August 25, 2021 in the journal Diabetes Spectrum.

“This study illustrates that for working-age people, having diabetes puts them at an even greater risk for depression,” said study author and NIOSH Epidemiologist Harpriya Kaur, Ph.D. “In addition, we found certain factors, specifically age, gender, and co-existing chronic conditions are associated with depression among workers with diabetes.”

Researchers looked at data from the 2014-2018 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), the world’s largest telephone survey, from all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia and three U.S. territories to identify study participants. For their analysis, they included respondents who reported being employed at the time of the survey and as having diabetes — a total of 84,659 people.

Researchers found that the prevalence of depression among workers with diabetes was 30% higher than those without diabetes and among survey respondents, prevalence of depression decreased with age.

Young adult workers with diabetes, aged 18 to 34 years, were found to have the highest prevalence of depression—nearly 30% reported experiencing depression compared to just over 11% of workers surveyed over age 65. Additionally, for young adult workers with diabetes, those who had another chronic condition were almost three times as likely to report depression.

When researchers looked at the data by gender, female workers with diabetes in all age groups were more likely to self-report depression than their male counterparts.

“A strength of this study is the large population-based sample that allowed us to explore the relationship between diabetes and depression among workers by age group and other characteristics including demographics and physical health conditions,” said Kaur. “Having a better understanding of which groups may be at greatest risk can help inform preventive measures such as tailored educational messages and health promotion resources in the workplace.”

NIOSH is the federal institute that conducts research and makes recommendations for preventing work-related injuries, illnesses, and deaths. Find more information about NIOSH at