Anxiety, depression and psychological well-being in a cohort of South African adults with Type 2 diabetes mellitus

Samantha Ramkisson, Basil J. Pillay, Benn Sartorius


Background: The prevalence of diabetes mellitus (DM) has increased at alarming rates globally. South Africa has the second highest number of people in Africa living with DM, with prevalence rates being among the top five countries in Africa. Accordingly, psychological issues associated with DM have been a growing focus of attention. Studies have found that patients with DM have elevated levels of anxiety and depression, and decreased levels of well-being. In South Africa, there is a paucity of studies on the psychological issues associated with DM.

Objectives: The aim of this paper was to explore the prevalence and association of anxiety, depressive features and psychological well-being in patients with Type 2 DM.

Method: In a cross-sectional survey, patients with Type 2 DM were recruited from public and private facilities. The Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS), the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-28) and WHO-5 Well-being Index (WHO-5) were administered.

Results: Four hundred and one participants completed the questionnaires. On the WHO-5, 277 (69%) reported good well-being, while 124 (31%) indicated poor well-being and were considered at risk for depressive features. On the HADS, 186 (46%) had mild-to-severe depressive features and 128 (32%) had mild-to-severe anxiety. There was a strong negative correlation between the WHO-5, HADS and General Health Questionnaire (GHQ) scales, which indicated that an increase in anxiety and depressive features decreased psychological well-being.

Conclusion: Health-care providers should identify and treat anxiety and depression as a standard part of diabetes care. Patients should also be referred to the appropriate mental health professional as part of the management of diabetes.

Keywords: type 2 diabetes; anxiety;depression;psychological well-being; adults


type 2 diabetes; anxiety;depression;psychological well-being; adults

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Submitted: 31 December 2015
Published: 08 July 2016

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South African Journal of Psychiatry    |    ISSN: 1608-9685 (PRINT)    |    ISSN: 2078-6786 (ONLINE)