The question that most people are asking is whether diabetes and depression are related. Studies show that if you have either type 1 or type 2 diabetes, your risk of developing depression increases. Vice versa is also true where if you are depressed, you have a higher chance of having type 2 diabetes. Because of this, it is recommended that people who have a history of depression be screened for diabetes. Depression can affect a person’s ability to manage their diabetes, including properly controlling their blood sugar levels. People who suffer from diabetes and depression have a poorer glycemic and metabolic control which scientists reveal can increase the symptoms of depression. Studies have shown that if depression is properly managed, glycemic control will improve which leads to an improvement in quality of life. If you are suffering from diabetes and depression, you can seek medical intervention to treat both conditions together. Research shows that when one condition between diabetes and depression is managed, it can positively impact the other.

What causes diabetes and depression

For people who are diagnosed with diabetes, dealing with a lifetime chronic condition can be overwhelming, especially for those who are newly diagnosed. In case you don’t face this condition with perseverance and a positive attitude, there is a high risk you might develop symptoms of depression. There are certain risk factors which can cause both diabetes and depression. They include:

  • Lack of physical activity
  • Family history of either diabetes, or depression
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure

What is depression?

Depression refers to a serious medical condition which negatively affects how an individual thinks, feel and act. When you have this condition, it can cause you to feel sad and lose interest in daily activities that you once enjoyed doing. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, people who have depression do not all have the same symptoms. That means, the severity, duration and frequency of the condition varies from one individual to another. People who are depressed usually spend a lot of energy trying to deny the negative events happening in their lives. Avoiding adverse events can lead to symptoms of depression.

The following are symptoms of depression, which can vary from mild to severe:

  • Difficulty falling asleep (insomnia) or sleeping too much (hypersomnia)
  • Feeling of guilty or worthlessness
  • Increased fatigue or loss of energy
  • Difficulty concentrating, thinking or making decisions
  • Suicidal thoughts or recurring thoughts of death
  • A feeling of restlessness
  • Changes in appetite

In case you experience any of the following symptoms of diabetes for a long period of time, you should seek medical intervention.

Treatment for depression

For somebody to be diagnosed with depression, symptoms must persist for at least two weeks. Depression is a common psychiatric problem which can be experienced by people with diabetes. When you have depression, it can lead to physical and emotional problems which can reduce your ability to do work at home or in an office. However, you can use prescribed antidepressants and make some lifestyle changes to help you fight the symptoms of depression. The common types of antidepressants that are prescribed include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) and serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI).

When you use antidepressants, you may need to use several different kinds before you can find the right one for you. This may require you to exercise patience since some antidepressants take several weeks before their effects can be felt. To avoid the risk of adverse side effects, you should not stop taking antidepressants suddenly without consulting with your doctor. People who are suffering from depression may have difficulty sleeping. However, experts suggest that getting enough sleep can help you manage your depression symptoms better. Depressed people tend to overeat, however, watching your eating habits can help you reduce the symptoms of depression. Some people who have depression also experience relief when they visit a psychiatrist. In case you are diagnosed with severe depression, you will need to be admitted in a hospital.

Relationship between diabetes and depression

Research done by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence show that people who are diagnosed with a chronic condition such as diabetes are three times more likely to be diagnosed with depression, compared to those without diabetes. However, most of the time depression is not diagnosed in both diabetic and non diabetic people.

People who are diabetic and require insulin drugs have a higher chance of getting depression. Being diagnosed with diabetes can adversely affect your lifestyle because it is a difficult condition to handle emotionally and physically. As a result, people with diabetes are at risk of getting life threatening conditions including side effects such as anxiety, stress and depression. Depression can affect an individual ability to perform their normal tasks and think clearly. This can negatively affect your ability to manage diabetes effectively. Diabetics who experience side effects such as depression are supposed to seek medical intervention to prevent the risk of their blood sugar worsening.

On the other hand, research shows that people who have depression have a higher chance of having type 2 diabetes. This is because depression can lead to wrong lifestyle decisions such as smoking, unhealthy eating habits, lack of physical activity and weight gain which increases the risk of developing diabetes. Therefore, the association between diabetes and depression goes both ways. Studies show that lack of physical activity as a result of depression is a risk factor for diabetes. Other research also shows that people who are using antidepressants have a higher risk of having diabetes compared to those who are not depressed. Weight gain, which is a common side effect of anti-depressive drugs also increase the risk of contracting diabetes.

Managing diabetes and depression together

  • Diabetes programs

Diabetic programs which focus on behavior have been successful in improving an individual fitness level, metabolic control and weight control. These diabetes program can also improve an individual quality of life.

  • Medications and lifestyle changes

Medications used to treat these health conditions, including lifestyle changes, therapies and regular exercise can help improve both medical conditions.

  • Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy aims to eliminate emotional problems, thus improving an individual wellbeing. Studies have shown that people who were participants of cognitive behavioral therapy showed improvements in depression which resulted in better diabetes control.

  • Collaborative care

Recent studies have shown that treatments that are supervised by a nurse case manager and are increased when needed can help improve both diabetes and depression. However, this type of treatment remains unavailable in most healthcare facilities.

Disclaimer: Please note that the contents of this community article are strictly for informational purposes and should not be considered as medical advice. This article, and other community articles, are not written or reviewed for medical validity by Canadian Insulin or its staff. All views and opinions expressed by the contributing authors are not endorsed by Canadian Insulin. Always consult a medical professional for medical advice, diagnosis, and treatment.