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Article by Dr. Sheri Colberg, Phd, FACSM

 

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TYPE 2 DIABETES AND DEPRESSION


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Young lady sitting on a couch resting her hand on her head.Depression can strike anyone at any time. But such is the nature of their condition that persons with type 2 diabetes may be at greater risk of developing depression.

Several studies suggest that diabetes doubles the risk of depression compared to those without the disorder. The chances of becoming depressed increase as diabetes complications worsen without effective management of the condition via maximum insulin sensitivity.

Depression can lead to poorer physical and mental functioning, causing a person to become less likely to follow a required diet or medication plan, which are essential for controlling diabetes. Symptoms of depression can include:

  • Persistent sad, anxious or "empty" mood
  • Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness or helplessness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities that were once enjoyed, including sex
  • Decreased energy or fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions
  • Insomnia, early-morning awakening or oversleeping
  • Appetite and/or weight changes
  • Thoughts of death or suicide or even suicide attempts
  • Restlessness or irritability

Causes underlying the association between depression and diabetes are as yet unclear. One theory is that depression may develop because of stress. Another theory suggests depression can result from the metabolic effects of diabetes on the brain.

Studies suggest that persons with diabetes who have a history of depression are more likely to develop diabetic complications than those suffering from diabetes but without depression. People who suffer from both diabetes and depression tend to have higher health care costs in primary care. (1)

Depression results from a hormonal imbalance caused by the abnormal functioning of the brain. An interaction between genetic pre-disposition and life history appear to determine a person's level of risk.

Man leaning against a car looking down at his feet.Episodes of depression may then be triggered by stress, difficult life events, side effects of medications or other environmental factors. Whatever its origins, depression can limit the energy needed to keep focused on treatment for other disorders, especially a high-maintenance condition such as diabetes.

Tight glucose control is the best way to prevent serious complications of diabetes like depression. So the goal of diabetes management is to keep blood glucose levels as close to the normal range as possible. Healthy eating and regular physical activity can greatly boost the management of diabetes by helping to boost insulin sensitivity.

Treatment for depression in the context of diabetes should be managed by a mental health professional e.g. a psychiatrist, psychologist or clinical social worker, who is in close communication with the doctor providing the diabetes care. This is especially important when anti-depressant medication is needed or prescribed, so that potentially harmful drug interactions can be avoided.

In some cases, a mental health professional that specializes in treating individuals with depression and co-occurring physical illnesses such as diabetes may be available. People with diabetes who develop depression, as well as people in treatment for depression who subsequently develop diabetes, should be sure to tell any doctor they visit about the full range of medications they are taking.

Other mental health conditions, such as bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness) and anxiety disorders, may occur in people with diabetes. They too can be effectively treated.

Always remember that depression is a treatable disorder of the brain. It can be treated in addition to whatever other illnesses a person might have, including diabetes. Seek help for depression, maximize your management of diabetes and enjoy life again.

Graphic gradient image utilizing black and blue colors.The Insulite Diabetes Advanced Management System is a scientific breakthrough that could improve your health by increasing the insulin sensitivity of your cell walls. Greater sensitivity can result in a huge improvement in the efficient processing of glucose and insulin, which may reduce the amount of insulin you require to manage your diabetes.

By lowering insulin intake and dependency through more effective management of your diabetes, you are likely to experience better long-term health and a greater sense of well being. You may also reduce your risk as a Diabetic of developing such serious, insulin imbalance-linked complications as the need for amputation, failing eyesight and kidney disease.

(1) Ciechanowski PS, Katon WJ, Russo JE. Depression and diabetes: impact of depressive symptoms on adherence, function, and costs. Archives of Internal Medicine, 2000; 160(21): 3278-85.

 

 

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