Depression and diabetes is a serious problem. Diabetics are more than twice as likely to suffer from depression as non-diabetics. Twice as likely! Unfortunately, the news gets worse. As diabetes complication get more serious, suffering from depression becomes more likely. Curiously, researchers are not entirely sure what causes this phenomenon. Let’s take a look at the diabetes and depression connection and see how to start getting help.
One theory is that dealing with the burdens of managing diabetes is the culprit. However, research also suggests that depression can actually cause diabetes. In fact, if you are depressed, you have a 37% greater chance of developing type 2 diabetes. Regardless of the cause, we know that depression and diabetes are both treatable. We also know that ignoring the problem won’t make it go away it only makes it worse.
Who Tends to Get Depressed?
Depression typically strikes people in the prime of their lives, between 25-44 years old, although it can occur at any age. Between 10%-25% of women will become depressed in their lifetime. This means that women are twice as likely to suffer from depression as men.
Despite the lower instances of depression, men don’t have it all that easy. They tend to not seek help and often self medicate through drugs and/or alcohol abuse. Men also tend to be more inclined to suicidal thoughts, and more likely to die if the thoughts are acted upon.
What are the Symptoms for Depression?
Before reading the symptoms, please, if you or someone you know is suspected of being depressed, please seek help with your doctor or healthcare provider. Don’t just randomly rely on the symptoms listed here. It is nothing to ignore, it is normal, and treatment is not “do it yourself.”
That being said, depression tends to manifest itself in the following ways. These symptoms typically last for most of the day and for at least two weeks.
- Frequent sad feelings
- Lower interest in things and activities you once enjoyed
- Loss of self-esteem or feelings of guilt and worthlessness
- Problems concentrating or making decisions
- Inadvertent weight fluctuations (weight loss or gain)
- Irritability or restlessness
- Lower energy level
- Suicidal thoughts
Is being depressed worse of diabetics?
Being depressed is serious for everyone; however having both diabetes and depression does create unique and special problems. Depression can cause people to lose focus and/or become lethargic. For diabetics, this can lead to not being diligent in their medical care. For example, maybe you don’t take your medicine or monitor your blood sugar properly.
Diabetes and depression can also cause you to not want to exercise, another key treatment component. Poor diet choices and potential alcohol or drug abuse are also common. All of these behaviors will lead to poor diabetes management and increased health risks such as heart disease, blindness, amputations, erectile dysfunction, stroke, and kidney disease.
Hopefully, the takeaway from this article is that you know that depression and diabetes is very common. There is no shame in getting it and it should be treated as quickly as possible. Over 80% of those seeking treatment responds well to treatment.
- American Association of Diabetes Educators
- American Diabetes Association
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse
- The National Diabetes Education Program
Diabetes at Work: What’s Depression Got to Do with It? www.DiabetesAtWork.org, (accessed April 2009).
By Erich Schultz – Last Reviewed May 2011.