Patients Receiving Virta’s Diabetes Reversal Treatment See Sustained Reduction in Depressive Symptoms, New Research Shows

Published on 
February 2, 2022
April 26, 2024

Two years after starting treatment, significantly fewer patients met clinical cutoff for depression

SAN FRANCISCO (February 2, 2022)—Virta Health, the leader in type 2 diabetes reversal, announced promising results on the impact of its diabetes reversal treatment on depressive symptoms. The research, published in The Journal of Behavioral Medicine, highlights rapid and sustained improvement in depressive symptoms during treatment, with nearly one-third fewer patients meeting the clinical cutoff for depression at two years.

The connection between type 2 diabetes (T2D) and depression is strong: per the CDC, ​​those with diabetes are 2-3x times more likely to have depression than people without. A whopping 33% of people with insulin-treated T2D experience moderate-to-severe depressive symptoms such as feelings of hopelessness, trouble sleeping, and low energy, the American Diabetes Association reports. These patients are also more likely to forgo self-management such as glucose monitoring and doctor’s visits, causing a vicious cycle that worsens symptoms and outcomes for both conditions. 

According to Virta’s latest research, patients receiving its treatment—a combination of individualized nutrition therapy and advanced telehealth to reverse T2D—experienced the opposite, simultaneously improving depression symptoms and metabolic health. 

"Trial participants' depressive symptoms improved over the first 10 weeks, and what's especially exciting is that improvements persisted over 2 years, which is uncommon in lifestyle interventions," said senior author Jeffrey S. Gonzalez, Ph.D., professor at Yeshiva University & Albert Einstein College of Medicine. 

Rebecca Adams, PhD, Associate Director of Clinical Research at Virta added, "The burden of managing diabetes can negatively impact mental health. Treatments such as Virta that reduce these burdens—especially by helping patients normalize blood sugar and get off medications—may be key in improving mood and metabolic health simultaneously.”

Further, this study found that depressed patients followed a similar pattern of metabolic health improvement—including significant weight loss and A1c reduction—as those without a past diagnosis. This is in sharp contrast to the typical trajectory of patients struggling with both illnesses. According to research published in Diabetes Care, patients with T2D that are experiencing depressive symptoms are much less likely to adhere to diabetes treatment recommendations, leading to worse outcomes.

Virta’s patients buck that trend. Kenneth Landrum, an employee of Virta partner and global technology company ZF, shared his story of how Virta’s treatment helped him improve both metabolic and mental health: 

“Before Virta, I was taking 14 different medications for my diabetes, high blood pressure, and mental health issues—stuck in a vicious cycle of always taking more medications, yet never feeling better. Two years later, I’ve reversed my diabetes, and no longer suffer from insomnia, panic attacks, and PTSD. Plus, I’ve lost 45 pounds and am off all 14 drugs. With the support of Virta, I’ve completely changed the trajectory of my mental and physical health.” 

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