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Diabetes and Depression

Source: Defeat Diabetes Foundation, Volume IV, Issue 7

Diabetes and Depression

Everybody tends to feel down at one point or another in their lives, but what happens when that feeling lasts for weeks at a time? This could be a major sign of clinical depression.

Depression can affect your mood, thoughts, behavior, and body and can lead to problems at school, work, or home. Depression affects the way you communicate with others, and the way you think and feel about life in general. Depression may also lead to alchohol or drug abuse as well as other addictions.

Many risk factors can contribute to clinical depression. Some of these factors include one’s biology (body’s function), medications, family history (genetics), situation (i.e. death of a loved one, divorce, etc.) and other co-occurring illnesses such as stroke, heart disease, cancer, or diabetes.

Researchers have found that major depression is significantly more common in patients with diabetes than in the general popluation. In fact, studies indicate that people with diabetes (Type 1 and Type 2) are twice as likely to become depressed as compared with non-diabetes groups, and women with diabetes suffer more from depression than men with diabetes. Approximately 15% – 20% of adults with diabetes, both type 1 and 2, suffer from depression (Lustman PJ, et al., Depression in Adults with Diabetes, Semin Clin Neuropsychiatry 1997). Increased health care use and costs for people with diabetes who have depression is 4.5 times higher than for individuals without depression ($247 million versus $55 million). (Deyi Zheng, E. & Simpson, K. Diabetes Care 2002; 25(3), pp. 464-470)

Depression can become a serious paralyzing factor in caring for one’s diabetes. It can cause people to just want to “give up” or “not care anymore” about things like taking their blood sugar levels. It can also cause unhealthy eating patterns, not taking one’s medications, lack of motivation to exercise or good self-care for diabetes. Ask your physician, psychologist, social worker or other mental health professional for help.

What are symptoms of clinical depression*?

  • Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood

  • Feelings of hopelessness, pessimism

  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness

  • Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities that were once enjoyed, including sex

  • Decreased energy, fatigue, being “slowed down”

  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering, making decisions

  • Insomnia, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping

  • Changes in appetite (loss or increase of appetite)

  • Weight fluctuations (extreme weight gain or weight loss)

  • Thoughts of death or suicide; suicide attempts

  • Restlessness, irritability

  • Persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment, such as headaches, digestive disorders, and chronic pain

  • Use of alcohol or drugs to feel “better”

*It is natural to feel some of these symptoms from time to time. However, if you have been encountering a number of these symptoms for two weeks or more and they are having a detrimental effect on your personal or professional life, you may be experiencing a more serious form of depression.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms talk with your doctor, nurse, counselor or other health/mental health professional.

Editor’s Note: The holidays can cause additional stress.