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Diabetes study offers help with depression

Nov. 15, 2007
By Belle Cancellare and Laura Yates

The holidays can be downright depressing for anyone who's working to eat right and maintain a healthy weight, and doubly challenging for those with diabetes. 

This season, researchers are encouraging area residents -- including Ohio University employees -- to investigate their eligibility for a 12-week program that combines exercise and talk therapy to treat depression, which is two times more likely among those with diabetes. Nationwide, some 20 million people have type 2 diabetes, accounting for 90 percent of all diabetes cases.

Program ACTIVE (Appalachians Coming Together to Increase Vital Exercise) is a depression treatment program for individuals with type 2 diabetes. Part of a study being conducted by Ohio University's Diabetes and Depression Lab, which investigates the psychological impact of diabetes in the Appalachian region, the program provides participants with tools to successfully treat depression and better manage their diabetes. 

"We encourage people who may be experiencing a consistently sad mood along with their diabetes to call our lab to see if they are eligible for the study," said Mary de Groot, director the lab and assistant professor in the Department of Psychology. "As we approach the holidays, we hope that people with depression and diabetes will consider giving themselves the gift of good health."

The study, sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, uses exercise and talk therapy to evaluate their effect on improving depression over time, gaining better control of blood sugar and reducing the risk of heart disease by improving blood lipids. This is especially relevant to Appalachia, where the diabetes rate is 11.3 percent, compared to the national average of 7.8 percent.

Area residents who meet the study criteria receive the following free of charge: medical exams, cardiac stress tests, a pedometer to measure steps, a glucometer to measure blood sugar, a pass to exercise facilities in the Athens and Parkersburg areas, six exercise classes, 10 sessions of talk therapy and a talk therapy manual. 

"Our preliminary results suggest that this combined approach is successful to helping people to feel better both emotionally and physically," said de Groot, who is leading the study along with team members Michael Kushnick, assistant professor in recreation and sports sciences; Frank Schwartz, assistant professor of endocrinology; and Jay Shubrook, assistant professor of family and specialty medicine. 

For more information about Program ACTIVE, which is recruiting participants through 2008, call the Diabetes and Depression Lab at 597-2564 or visit www.programactive.ohio.edu

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