UMMS Affiliation

Department of Medicine, Division of Preventive and Behavioral Medicine

Publication Date


Document Type



Endocrine System Diseases | Mental and Social Health | Mental Disorders | Psychiatric and Mental Health | Psychiatry and Psychology | Women's Health


BACKGROUND: We evaluate the combined effect of the presence of elevated depressive symptoms and antidepressant medication use with respect to risk of type 2 diabetes among approximately 120,000 women enrolled in the Women's Health Initiative (WHI), and compare several different statistical models appropriate for causal inference in non-randomized settings.

METHODS: Data were analyzed for 52,326 women in the Women's Health Initiative Clinical Trials (CT) Cohort and 68,169 women in the Observational Study (OS) Cohort after exclusions. We included follow-up to 2005, resulting in a median duration of 7.6 years of follow up after enrollment. Results from three multivariable Cox models were compared to those from marginal structural models that included time varying measures of antidepressant medication use, presence of elevated depressive symptoms and BMI, while adjusting for potential confounders including age, ethnicity, education, minutes of recreational physical activity per week, total energy intake, hormone therapy use, family history of diabetes and smoking status.

RESULTS: Our results are consistent with previous studies examining the relationship of antidepressant medication use and risk of type 2 diabetes. All models showed a significant increase in diabetes risk for those taking antidepressants. The Cox Proportional Hazards models using baseline covariates showed the lowest increase in risk , with hazard ratios of 1.19 (95 % CI 1.06 - 1.35) and 1.14 (95 % CI 1.01 - 1.30) in the OS and CT, respectively. Hazard ratios from marginal structural models comparing antidepressant users to non-users were 1.35 (95 % CI 1.21 - 1.51) and 1.27 (95 % CI 1.13 - 1.43) in the WHI OS and CT, respectively - however, differences among estimates from traditional Cox models and marginal structural models were not statistically significant in both cohorts. One explanation suggests that time-dependent confounding was not a substantial factor in these data, however other explanations exist. Unadjusted Cox Proportional Hazards models showed that women with elevated depressive symptoms had a significant increase in diabetes risk that remained after adjustment for confounders. However, this association missed the threshold for statistical significance in propensity score adjusted and marginal structural models.

CONCLUSIONS: Results from the multiple approaches provide further evidence of an increase in risk of type 2 diabetes for those on antidepressants.

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© 2015 Frisard et al. Open Access. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

DOI of Published Version



BMC Endocr Disord. 2015 Oct 12;15(1):56. doi: 10.1186/s12902-015-0049-7. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

BMC endocrine disorders

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Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.