Aims/hypothesis: The aim of this study was to examine the association between psychological distress and the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) events and all-cause mortality in patients with screen-detected type 2 diabetes mellitus. In addition, we explored whether or not metabolic control and medication adherence could explain part of this association. Methods: A follow-up study was performed including 1,533 patients aged 40-69 years with screen-detected type 2 diabetes mellitus identified in general practice during 2001-2006 in the Denmark arm of the ADDITION (Anglo-Danish-Dutch Study of Intensive Treatment in People with Screen-Detected Diabetes in Primary Care) study. Mental health was measured at baseline with the Mental Health Inventory 5 (MHI-5). Psychological distress was defined as an MHI-5 score of ≤68 (18.2% of the population). CVD risk factors were measured at baseline and repeated at the follow-up examination. Information on death, hospital discharge diagnosis, and antihypertensive and lipid-lowering drug treatment was obtained from national registers. Cox proportional regression was used to estimate HRs for the association between psychological distress, CVD events and all-cause mortality. Age- and sex-adjusted risk difference analyses were performed to estimate differences in meeting treatment targets. Results: Patients with psychological distress had a 1.8-fold higher mortality rate (HR 1.76, 95% CI 1.23, 2.53) and a 1.7-fold higher risk of having a CVD event (HR: 1.69, 95% CI 1.05, 2.70) compared with those with an MHI-5 score of >68. Overall, psychological distress was not associated with the ability to meet treatment targets for HbA1c levels, cholesterol levels or BP, or to redeem antihypertensive or lipid-lowering drug treatment. Conclusions/interpretation: In people detected and treated early in the diabetes disease trajectory, those with psychological distress at the time of diagnosis had a higher risk of CVD events and death than those without psychological distress.