A study conducted in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) demonstrated that diabetes patients with depression or anxiety are more likely to have eye-related complications (retinopathy, glaucoma) and vascular/neurological complications in the lower limbs (peripheral vascular disease, peripheral neuropathy).

In particular, patients who are depressed tended to have poorer self-care, more severe physical symptoms and were less likely to adhere to prescribed diabetes care regimens. The study also indicated that Islam has a profound impact on the mental health beliefs and practices of people in the Arab region. For example, people tend to believe that mental illness is associated with supernatural influences, such as jinn (aka genies), the evil eye or magic, rather than physical or biomedical; some also believe that a mental illness may be divine punishment as a result of disobedience or sin, or due to weak faith. This in turn, affects a patient’s motivation to seek proper care for depression or anxiety.

“These findings raise the possibility that improving mental health as part of a comprehensive management plan for diabetes may improve the overall long term outcomes of diabetes patients,” the study concluded.

1. Sulaiman N, Hamdan A, Tamim H, et al. The prevalence and correlates of depression and anxiety in a sample of diabetic patients in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. BMC Family Practice 2010; 11: 80. (open access)