GSB 7.1 Standardlösung

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Depressive symptoms

Depression is one of the most common mental illnesses. It is linked to a high individual and social burden of disease (WHO, 2016), and is regarded as one of the key comorbidities of diabetes. Patients with diagnosed diabetes and comorbid depression are less likely to comply with their treatment regimes (Gonzalez et al., 2008).

Key messages

  • Around 15% of adults with diabetes reported current depressive symptoms in 2014.
  • More women with diabetes have current depressive symptoms than their male counterparts.
  • Current depressive symptoms are more common in adults with diabetes than in adults without diabetes.

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By state


  • By gender


  • By age


  • By education group



In 2014, 15.4% of adults with known diabetes in the past 12 months in Germany presented with current depressive symptoms (women: 19.1%; men 12.3%), with the highest proportion found in the 80-plus age group. The figures for women are higher than for men across all age groups. Proportions are lowest in the central-eastern region of Germany (6.4 %) and highest in the north-east (20.1%). Adjusted for age, adults with diabetes are far more likely to report current depressive symptoms than those of a similar age without diabetes (total odds ratio: 2.20; women: 2.47; men: 2.06).


One in seven adults with known diabetes in Germany exhibits current symptoms of depression. Depressive symptoms are far more common in adults with diabetes than in adults without diabetes. For this reason, the treatment of diabetes requires a particular focus on depressive symptoms.

Show more information on methodology and data sources


The indicator Depressive symptoms is assessed by the Patient Health Questionnaire-8 (PHQ-8). It is defined as the proportion of people with known diabetes (12-month prevalence) compared to those without diabetes who have had depressive symptoms in the previous two weeks (PHQ-8 sum score ≥ 10) (Bretschneider et al., 2017).


The PHQ-8 questionnaire assesses the symptoms of major depression (not including suicidal thoughts) in accordance with DSM-IV with regard to the frequency of their occurrence over the past two weeks. Participants with a total PHQ-8 score of ≥ 10 are considered to show depressive symptoms.

  • Symptoms: The initial question ‘Over the last 2 weeks, how often have you been bothered by…?’ was used to measure little interest or pleasure, depressed mood, sleep disturbances, tiredness or little energy, poor appetite or overeating, feelings of worthlessness or guilt, trouble concentrating, psychomotor retardation or agitation.
    The following responses were provided:

    • 0 = Not at all
    • 1 = Several days
    • 2 = More than half of the days
    • 3 = Nearly every day
  • PHQ-8 total score: sum of the scores gained from the responses to questions about the eight symptoms.

  • Known diabetes in the last 12 months: The introductory question ‘Have you had any of the following diseases or complaints in the last 12 months?’ was used to collect data on individual diseases/complaints, including ‘diabetes (not including gestational diabetes)’. The following responses were provided:

    • Yes
    • No
  • Indicators depicted separately for people with or without known diabetes in the past 12 months.

Reference population

German-speaking resident population in Germany with and without known diabetes, aged 18 years and over

Data source

Nationwide RKI interview survey GEDA 2014/2015-EHIS based on a sample from registration offices and self-completion questionnaire (online/written).

Number of cases

  • GEDA 2014/15-EHIS: n = 24,016

    • n = 1,712 people with known diabetes in the past 12 months
    • n = 21,633 people without known diabetes in the past 12 months


  • Description: For the indicator, the figures for total, women and men are provided and are stratified by age group, residential area and education as far as the number of cases available for the figure is ≥ 5 and the statistical uncertainty in the estimate of the indicator is not considered too large (a coefficient variation ≤ 33.5%).
  • Stratification: The geographical classification of the residence of the participating person was carried out by region (north-east, north-west, middle-east, middle-west and south). Educational status was determined using the CASMIN index, which takes information on both school and vocational training into account and allows a categorisation into a low, medium and high education group.
  • Weighting: In order to correct for deviations from the underlying reference population due to different participation rates or sampling probabilities, a weighting factor was used when calculating the indicator. This adjusts the survey to the structure of the resident population in Germany of the reference population in terms of sex, age, federal state, municipality type and education as of 31 December 2014.

Data quality

RKI interview surveys provide representative results for the resident population of Germany aged 18 years and over. As is the case in all population-based studies, underrepresentation of the seriously ill and those living in institutions must be assumed. Furthermore, all information is self-reported and not based on personal interviews conducted by study physicians or standardized measurements or examinations.