According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), around 6 percent of Americans over 18 have been diagnosed with depression. Studies have shown that people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes have a greater risk than others for developing the condition. Doctors aren’t sure why diabetes and depression can sometimes go hand-in-hand. Some believe that the stress of monitoring a 24-hour condition like diabetes can take a toll on a person’s mental health. Having to watch what you eat and keep track of your blood sugar levels constantly can often feel more than a little alienating. Others think depression is a result of additional health complications caused by diabetes. Fortunately, diabetes and depression can be treated together. If you or a loved one are experiencing depression, talk to your doctor about treatment options and coping techniques that can help you better manage the two conditions.
The first step in getting help is recognizing the symptoms of depression. According to the American Diabetes Association, if you or a loved one are experiencing any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor immediately.
- Lack of interest in favorite activities or hobbies
- Increase or decrease in appetite
- Trouble sleeping
- Difficulty concentrating
- Loss of energy
- Suicidal thoughts
It’s important to remember that feeling down occasionally is completely normal. The American Diabetes Association says people who experience three or more of these symptoms over the course of several weeks should talk to their doctors because they may benefit from depression treatment.
Treating diabetes and depression
Because diabetes and depression can often be related, there are ways you can treat both conditions together. Physicians at Mayo Clinic
recommend joining a diabetes management program. There, you can learn valuable information about treating your diabetes as well as tips on how to live a healthier life. A diabetes management program also helps you feel in control of your diabetes and your life.
Some physicians may also recommend you join a diabetes support group. Talking to others who understand your difficulties can help you feel less alienated. Many local hospitals offer free support groups for a variety of conditions. You can also visit the American Diabetes Association’s calendar
for a list of community events where you can get involved.
When talking to others may not be enough, your doctor may recommend a type of behavioral therapy to treat your depression. According to Mayo Clinic, cognitive behavioral therapy is one of the most common treatment options for mental health patients. During a set number of sessions, a mental health counselor will help you become more aware of negative thinking so that you can tackle problems with a more positive, forward-thinking approach. This type of treatment is often popular with diabetes patients because it helps them learn to manage their condition with a more optimistic, can-do attitude.
Photo credit: Sander van der Wel