WASHINGTON June 8, 2012 - Type 2 diabetes and depression have some things in common. They share the risk factors of obesity, inactivity, family history, blood pressure problems, and coronary artery disease. Some signs of very high or low blood sugar are also depressive symptoms, such as anxiety, fatigue, irritability and restlessness.
The constant monitoring of an illness such as diabetes can be depressing, and having depression might cause a person to eat too much, not enough, or to down too many sugary comfort foods. In light of this, some experts recommend treating the two illnesses at the same time.
At the very least, anyone diagnosed with depression or diabetes would do well to be screened for the other. This is true for people with bipolar disorder as well, as the symptoms of bipolar include depression.
Understanding the link between diabetes and depression is urgent because:
- Depressed diabetics are likely to have higher blood sugar levels than non-depressed diabetic folks.
- Depression makes the management of diabetes more problematic, and people with both illnesses have a 52% higher risk of stroke or heart attack.
- A CDC report states that having diabetes doubles a person’s chance of developing depression.
- The prevalence of both depression and diabetes are on the rise in western cultures.
Although the increase of diabetes is in part too much junk food and too little exercise, it is eye opening to know that low income areas in the U.S. with poor availability of fresh fruits and veggies have the highest incidence of diabetes. It wouldn’t be surprising if the same study, focusing on depression, would show the same thing.
Symptoms of Depression
- sleeping too much or too little
- lethargy, fatigue
- feelings of sadness, anxiety, and isolation
- thoughts of hopelessness, harming yourself, or suicide
- trouble focusing or concentrating
- not taking pleasure in pleasurable activities
A Bit About Diabetes
The hormone insulin is responsible for getting sugar from the food you eat into the body’s cells, giving cells fuel to go about their cell-business. If the body isn’t producing insulin, or not reacting to it according to nature’s rules, the sugar stays in the circulatory system instead of energizing cells. Signs of this are:
- urinating frequently
- being more hungry or thirsty than usual
- infections that recur
Having some anxiety, trouble sleeping, and sadness after receiving a diagnosis of diabetes may not indicate clinical depression. It could be a temporary reaction to being diagnosed and having to adjust parts of your lifestyle, including some you enjoyed.
The Bright Side
What more could depression and diabetes have in common?
Both are annoying, but when managed, neither illness can keep you from your interests or accomplishing goals. The bright side is, there are things you can do to minimize or alleviate symptoms of each illness, though you would rather not.
Finally, both diagnoses are helped by good nutrition, exercise, and laughter. You have been meaning to eat right and walk daily anyway (right?), and laughter is the easiest medicine to swallow, ever.
There is a wealth of information about type 2 diabetes, and about depression with diabetes, at Healthline.com
Resources: American Diabetes Association, and Healthline.com
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