Diabetes can be accompanied with depression

Diabetes is a stressful chronic condition to manage, and at times, stress can lead to depression. Learn about the link between these two conditions.

Diabetes is a difficult disease to manage from day to day. Each day you need to monitor your blood sugar levels, exercise, make healthy food choices and avoid sugary snacks in order to keep it under control. Diabetes can have multiple effects on the body both physically and mentally. Research has shown people who have to manage a chronic disease every day of their life can be prone to depression at various levels.

Depression can range from mild to severe. How do you know when you have depression? Here are some common symptoms:

  • You may feel sad or irritable
  • Apathetic feelings or a loss of interest in doing activities
  • Change in appetite (eating more or less than normal)
  • Change in sleep habits
  • You may experience feelings of fatigue or you may have trouble sleeping
  • You may find it difficult making decisions
  • If your depression is severe, you may have thoughts of death or suicide

If you have persistent suicidal thoughts, you should seek professional help immediately.

In the United States, people with diabetes are twice as likely to have depression. Diabetes is a chronic illness. When a person has diabetes, their body does not produce enough insulin, which is a hormone that helps the cells throughout the body absorb glucose and use it for energy. Diabetes reduces or destroys the body’s ability to make or use insulin properly. Without insulin the body cannot process glucose properly, leaving the body’s cells starved for energy.   

What is the connection between depression and diabetes? According to the National Institute of Mental Health, studies show that diabetes and depression may be linked but scientists are not sure if diabetes causes depression or if the depression causes the diabetes. In addition to this possible link, diabetes may make the symptoms of depression worse. The effects of managing diabetes every day paired with the effects of diabetes on the brain may contribute to feelings of depression.

Looking at the other side, depression may worsen the risk of getting diabetes or worsen the symptoms of diabetes once a person has the disease. If a person is depressed and changes their eating habits and begins to over eat, this can lead to an increased risk of diabetes. Or if a person has diabetes and stops eating properly or not enough, the diabetes medication could drive their blood sugar levels too low with a risk of diabetic coma. Feelings of fatigue or worthlessness may lead to the lack of exercise which is important in the management of diabetes. One may also ignore their medications needed to manage the diabetes. 

For more information about depression read the Michigan State University Extension article titled “Depression is not a dirty word.”

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