Diabetes and Depression

People with diabetes have a higher risk of depression compared to the general population.  Studies show that about one-third of people diagnosed with diabetes have some form of depression.1  There are also many cases that go undiagnosed.  It is not known whether diabetes causes depression or if depression causes diabetes, but having both can worsen the symptoms of diabetes and of depression.

A diagnosis of diabetes can be both scary and stressful.  It requires careful monitoring and many lifestyle changes to prevent complications.  The risks of complications with diabetes are serious and many, including nerve damage, kidney failure, heart disease, and loss of limbs.  Therefore a diagnosis of diabetes can feel very overwhelming.

Depression affects about 10% of American adults and can occur in many forms and at different life stages.2  It is important that depression is treated so that it doesn’t worsen because it affects control of other diseases, such as diabetes.

Are you experiencing any of the following?

-Loss of pleasure in activities

-Trouble sleeping or excessive sleeping

-Changes in appetite

-Trouble concentrating

-Loss of energy

-Suicidal thoughts

If you experience 3 or more of these symptoms for greater than two weeks, it is important to talk to your physician.  You are not alone and treatment is available, including psychotherapy and medications.  If you have depression and it goes untreated, it is possible that this will affect your ability to manage your diabetes.  If you cannot eat regularly and have constant changes in appetite, you run the risk of dangerous hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia.  A loss in energy can also affect your diabetes control because if you are sleeping excessively, you may skip your blood sugar testing, medications or meals.  It is found that with more diabetes-related complications, depression rates are higher because of their impact on quality of life.  If you are already experiencing complications of diabetes, you may find that once you seek help for depression, your diabetes will be easier to control and it won’t feel so hopeless.  There are many resources and people that can help you manage both diabetes and depression.

Andrea Mark

PharmD candidate

References

1. Egede L., Ellis C. Diabetes and depression: global perspectives. Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice. 2010;87:302-312.

2. Mental Health, N. (2008). Diabetes and Depression. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 28, 2012, from http://psychcentral.com/lib/2008/diabetes-and-depression.

3. Living with diabetes. American Diabetes Association. Retrieved on October 28, 2012, from http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/complications/mental-health/depression.html

4. Diabetes and depression associated with higher risk for major complications. National Institute of Mental Health. Retrieved on October 28, 2012, from http://www.nimh.nih.gov/science-news/2010/diabetes-and-depression-associated-with-higher-risk-for-major-complications.shtml.

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