The diabetes-depression connection
Diabetes Australia estimates that as many as 50% of all people with diabetes are also living with depression or anxiety. It’s not hard to understand why. The daily grind of juggling blood glucose levels (BGLs), trying to eat well and doing enough exercise alone can take a heavy toll on your emotional wellbeing. Then, of course, there are the issues around family, work and everyday life to deal with, too.
If left untreated, depression can have a knock-on effect on your diabetes management. The result? You may end up with poorer blood glucose management, health complications and an overall decreased quality of life.
What’s the difference between feeling sad and being depressed?
It is normal to experience low moods at times. But, if you (or someone you love) have been experiencing one or more of these symptoms for more than two weeks, then you could need extra help*:
· Losing interest in activities that normally give you pleasure
· Changes in sleep patterns. You might find it hard to fall asleep, or you wake frequently, want to sleep more during the day, or wake early and are unable to sleep again.
· Changes in appetite, such as eating more or less than usual
· Finding it difficult to concentrate.
· Losing energy, and feeling tired all the time.
· Feeling anxious or guilty
· Morning sadness. You feel worse in the mornings than at any other time
· Suicidal thoughts.
(* Source: The American Diabetes Association)
It’s important to remember that, like high blood pressure, nerve pain or other diabetes-related complications, depression is treatable. And, by treating your depression, you’ll be giving your diabetes management a healthy boost, too.
The first step in managing depression is to make an appointment with your GP. Speak to your doctor honestly about how you have been feeling. Keep in mind that they are there to help you, not to judge you. Your GP will then be able to then tailor a treatment plan for you. This may include both medical and psychological treatments.
You may also find it helpful to join a support group for others with diabetes and/or depression. Ask your GP or diabetes educator about such groups in your community.
Here are two links you may find useful: