Gastrointestinal symptoms in diabetes mellitus, and their relation to anxiety and depression

S. de Kort, J.W. Kruimel*, J.P. Sels, I.C.W. Arts, N.C. Schaper, A.A.M. Masclee

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


BACKGROUND: Prevalence of gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms is increased in patients with diabetes mellitus. In general, GI symptoms are influenced by psychological factors such as anxiety and depression, but little is known about this association in diabetic patients. AIM: We tested the hypothesis that anxiety and depression have major impact on GI symptoms in diabetic patients. METHODS: 280 diabetic patients and 355 non-diabetic, age and sex matched controls were studied by validated questionnaires: (1) PAGI-SYM and GSRS for common GI symptoms and (2) HADS for anxiety and depression. Data were compared using logistic regression analysis. RESULTS: Patients with diabetes scored significantly (p<0.05) higher on the symptoms diarrhea (OR 1.64, 95% CI 1.05-2.56), early satiety (OR 2.50, 95% CI 1.39-4.49) and bloating (OR 1.58, 95% CI 1.03-2.43), but not on other symptoms. Prevalence of anxiety and depression (HADS scores >/=8) in diabetics and controls was respectively 27.5% and 20.6% for anxiety (p<0.05), and 19.6% and 13.4% for depression (p<0.05). After adjusting for anxiety and depression only the GI symptom "early satiety" remained significantly more prevalent in the patients with diabetes. CONCLUSIONS: The prevalence of the gastrointestinal symptoms diarrhea, bloating and early satiety, and of anxiety and depression is significantly increased in our cohort of predominantly patients with longstanding type 2 diabetes mellitus compared to controls. When adjusted for anxiety and depression, only the gastrointestinal symptom "early satiety" remained more prevalent in these diabetic patients, pointing to a somatic based origin. Thus, in our diabetic population psychological factors to a large extent are associated with gastrointestinal symptoms and should be taken into account when considering treatment of the gastrointestinal symptoms.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)248-255
Number of pages8
JournalDiabetes Research and Clinical Practice
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - May 2012


  • Gastrointestinal symptoms
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Anxiety
  • Depression

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