According to studies, diabetes and depression have known to go hand in hand. People with diabetes are three times more likely to be depressed than people without diabetes. Infact, it is the most common psychiatric disorder seen in the diabetes community. Moreover, depression, along with diabetes, can seriously impact an individual’s health and motivation to manage the condition.
This article will tell you about the connection between diabetes and depression, its risk factors, diagnosis, and treatment options.
What is Depression?
The following are the symptoms of depression-
- Constant state of sadness and anxiety
- Feeling of hopelessness and negativity
- Lack of motivation to change the existing situation
- Increased fatigue
- Insomnia or hypersomnia
- Indecisiveness, memory problems, and lack of concentration
- Sudden weight loss or weight gain
- Having suicidal thoughts
A person with diabetes might feel overwhelmed managing this condition as a lifelong task. At times, this makes a person feel difficult in coping with keeping the sugar levels in check.
Even poor management of diabetes can prompt symptoms similar to those of depression. For instance, a sudden increase or decrease in blood sugar may cause anxiety, restlessness, or low energy.
Diabetes and Depression: The Close Connection
A person recently diagnosed with diabetes might feel the condition to be an overwhelming barrier to the rest of his life. Moreover, the thousands of pricks, constant watch on your diet, and expenditure of managing the condition can take a toll on a diabetic.
Since diabetes is a progressive condition, it requires a mental and physical commitment to continuously manage the sugar levels. Whereas depression is a condition that makes an individual feel hopeless and powerless about the existing situation. Therefore, depression and diabetes together can cause severe complications. People with diabetes and depression are more likely to poorly control their blood sugar compared to those without depression.
Though this relationship is not fully understood, the continuous effort of managing diabetes can lead to symptoms of depression. And the complications associated with diabetes can worsen the symptoms of depression and lead to poor lifestyle decisions, hence causing a vicious cycle.
Diabetes and Depression: The Root Causes
Sometimes, managing a chronic lifelong condition such as diabetes can lead to depression. However, it is astonishing that both diseases are more likely to be caused by the same factors. These include:
- Family history
- Coronary artery disease
Please note that although it is most likely that a person with diabetes is diagnosed with depression, it can be vice-versa. A person diagnosed with depression can too have a chance of developing Type-2 diabetes.
Diabetes and Depression: Managing the Two Conditions Together
The treatment of diabetes and depression requires a combination of medication and therapy. However, certain lifestyle changes can prove really helpful in combating the conditions. Here are a few ways to manage both conditions at the same time:
1. Indulge in self-care management programs
Certain diabetes programs help you focus on behavioral changes such as improving metabolic control, managing weight, and reducing cardiovascular risk factors. Working on yourself will help in increasing motivation, thus improving your overall well-being.
Many antidepressant medications can help you in fighting depression. Such medicines help you relieve the symptoms of depression or anxiety. It is essential to complete the due course of medication as prescribed by the doctor. Moreover, if you experience the symptoms persist, it is advisable to consult your doctor for a different antidepressant medication plan. However, do not forget to discuss the side effects of any medicines you take. This is because anti-depressants have been found to have severe hypoglycaemic effects causing problems with self-care.
Psychotherapy is an effective way to fight depression. Also known as talk therapy, it helps reduce or manage the symptoms of depression. Several forms of psychotherapy are available for people to choose from, including interpersonal therapy and cognitive behaviour therapy. It is best to consult a doctor to decide which therapy works best for you.
In general, psychotherapy helps in:
- Recognising potential triggers
- Identifying and replacing unhealthy behaviours
- Developing a positive mindset towards managing diabetes and depression
- Promoting healthy problem-solving skills
4. Lifestyle changes
It is well known that exercise can help relieve stress by releasing the ‘feel-good’ chemicals in your brain, such as serotonin and endorphins. In addition to this, any form of physical activity helps trigger the growth of new brain cells, similar to antidepressant medications.
Physical activity or exercise can also help in diabetes management by reducing weight and blood sugar levels. Moreover, it also helps in increasing your stamina and energy. Apart from exercise, other lifestyle changes that need to be included for managing diabetes and depression together are:
- Eating a balanced diet to provide good nutrition to your body
- Focusing on a regular sleep schedule
- Working on reducing or improving stressors
- Seeking help and support from family and friends
5. Collaborative care
It is important to consult a doctor for treating diabetes and depression. However, studies have shown the benefits of having a diabetes educator in diabetes management. A diabetes educator not only helps you in making better lifestyle decisions but also in motivating you to fight both conditions together.
Diabetes and depression together can take a toll on a person’s well-being. Therefore, it is essential to look out for the symptoms and get proper treatment. On World Mental Health Day 2019, let us all pledge to take good care of our mental well-being and others in the coming years.
Download the BeatO App to learn more about diabetes care and management. Also, get in touch with BeatO Health Coaches to find solutions for your diabetes-related issues.