Is My Diabetes Causing My Depression?

depression in diabetesDid you know that people who are being treated for diabetes are much more prone to develop depression than healthy people?  In fact, many doctors recommend treating both conditions simultaneously.  My doctor says that anyone who has even mild symptoms of diabetes needs to be screened for depression and conversely, anyone who has a history of depression needs to be checked for diabetes.

Now, if you check with the CDC, they say that being diabetic means that you are twice as likely to develop depression.  That said, I can’t find anywhere where it says the reason for this.  According to the CDC, this could be because of the psychological stress that goes along with diabetes or because of the metabolic affect that diabetes has on the brain and how it functions.

When it comes to the psychological stress related to diabetes, believe me, there is a lot of it.  You are constantly worrying about what your sugar is, if you need to eat or not eat, if you have gotten enough physical activity for the day and more.  That doesn’t even speak to those that have neuropathy too… that brings a ton more stress into the picture.  There is also the stress of just knowing that you will be sick for the rest of your life.  Yes, you will have good days…more than likely a lot of them.  You will still have to take medicine every day until you die though, and that is a depressing fact.

The thing about dealing with depression AND diabetes is that having depression can make managing the diabetes that much harder.  My doctor has told me that people with depression often have consistently higher glucose levels than people who have diabetes but not depression.  He also showed me a study that was done in 2011 and published in a magazine called Diabetes Care that showed people with both conditions have a 52% higher risk of suffering a stroke or heart attack.

Why do We Get Depressed?

I really can’t say if being depressed leads to making bad dietary choices – which leads to higher sugar levels – or if just having a life threatening condition such as diabetes leads to depression.  It may be that both conditions can be both affected and caused by similar risk factors like coronary artery disease, inactivity, hypertension, obesity and family history.

I know in my particular experience that it is difficult to tell whether diabetes caused my depression or if something else did.  I also can’t tell whether or not being depressed makes my sugar levels higher…but I am not a doctor either.

Symptoms of Depression

So, now that we have talked about diabetes and depression being linked, let’s cover the symptoms of depression.  Some of these I know from experience, while others I have seen in family members or heard about from my doctor or learned through research right here on the internet.

I can tell you from experience that trying to deal with a chronic disease and the complications that can arise can definitely be overwhelming.  I have felt depressed and sad for days on end and that is what made me think that I might have depression.  If you have been feeling down for more than a few days, I recommend you speak to your doctor too.  Here are some of the things that you might take particular notice of:

  • Wanting to harm yourself or others
  • Feeling suicidal
  • Having the feeling that nothing you do is right
  • Being sad from the time you wake up til you go to bed at night
  • Feeling like you are alone or isolated
  • Being nervous or anxious quite a lot
  • Feeling like you have no energy
  • You are not able to concentrate
  • Maybe you feel like not eating at all, or on the other hand, you might find yourself binge eating
  • You can’t sleep or you might even sleep too much
  • You don’t find things you once enjoyed so enjoyable anymore

I had more than one of these symptoms.  You might have one or more, but if you do, please contact your doctor and have a conversation with him about it.

Getting Treated

The first step to getting treated is recognizing that there is a problem.  This wasn’t hard for me.  I had always been the strong one, the one who was never depressed no matter what happened.  I could always find the silver lining in every cloud.  Then something happened that changed all of that overnight.  I wasn’t the happy go lucky person I always was and I noticed right away.  I thought it would just go away, but it didn’t.  Finally, I talked to my doctor about it and was diagnosed with depression.

Don’t think that if you are sad, it will just go away…like I did.  If the condition persists for more than a few days, get checked out.  The sooner you get treatment, the sooner you will feel better.

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