Most elderly diabetics show depressive symptoms in Vietnam: study

By Phan Anh   November 1, 2018 | 02:26 am PT
Most elderly diabetics show depressive symptoms in Vietnam: study
People eat lunch at a nursing home for old people in Hanoi, Vietnam, June 28, 2017. Photo by Reuters/Kham
Far more elderly Vietnamese with type 2 diabetes have depressive symptoms than in other countries in the region, a study found.

The cross-sectional study, published by Dove Medical Press, sampled from a pool of 412 patients at the National Geriatric Hospital in Hanoi. The patients were aged 60 or above and were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

The study, done in October 2015-2016, also covered socio-demographic information like gender, occupation and education, and clinical information like duration of diabetes, blood pressure and body mass index.

It found that among the 412 patients, 327 of them had depressive symptoms, accounting for 79.4 percent of the pool. The likelihood of a person having depressive symptoms positively correlated with lower mobility and longer duration of diabetes.

The depressive symptoms included low life satisfaction, lack of interest in activities once heavily favored, hopelessness and memory loss.

The 79.4 percent rate of elderly diabetics having depressive symptoms was approximately 4.6 times higher than 17.2 percent of Vietnamese elders in general, the study found.

The rate was also found to be much higher than in countries and territories like Japan, Taiwan, China and Poland, which recorded in previous studies at 30.6, 15.4, 26 and 29.7 percent, respectively.

The study suggests that the restricted pool of patients, being confined to only one hospital, is a possible explanation for such a large discrepancy between Vietnam and other countries.

It also noted that the causal relationship between having type 2 diabetes and having depressive symptoms could not be confirmed, and that the depression scale used in the study could not be used to confirm depression among the patients without clinical diagnosis.

Nevertheless, the study’s authors said there was enough evidence to warrant an urgent need to screen people for depressive symptoms and provide mental health services to this population segment.

The number of Vietnamese people afflicted with diabetes has been increasing rapidly in recent years, particularly in urban areas.

According to one study, in Ho Chi Minh City, the population percentage with the metabolic disorder increased from 2.5 percent in the early 1990s to over 11 percent in 2008.

Le Bach Mai, deputy head of the National Institute of Nutrition, said last year that the number of Vietnamese with diabetes has surged 200 percent since 2007.

Among the major reasons for the rising number of diabetics in Vietnam is the lack of physical activity among its population.

A study jointly conducted by the World Health Organization and Vietnam's Ministry of Health last year showed 70 percent of about 4,000 Vietnamese adults 18 to 69 years old do not engage in vigorous physical activity. It also found that a third of the respondents do less physical exercises than recommended by the WHO, which is at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity per week.

Diabetes has long been considered a global public health problem, with a recent estimate indicating 422 million people are living with the metabolic disorder, accounting for 8.5 percent of the global adult population. Possible complications of diabetes include hypoglycemia, kidney failure, vision loss, and older patients with diabetes have a higher risk of premature death and a shorter life expectancy.

go to top