Diabetes and Depression

Diabetes and Depression can, in fact, go hand in hand. Read this Diabetes and Depression article to get more information about the relationship between depression and diabetes. Learn about treatment for diabetes and depression, risk factors, and other information.

Diabetes and depression do not have a simple, one-faceted relationship. Not only can each one can play a role in the onset of the other, but there are also other, more subtle relationships. Read this article to find out more about how diabetes and depression are connected.

What Are Diabetes and Depression?

Diabetes impedes the normal processing of the food we eat, in which food is broken down into glucose, which - with the help of the hormone insulin - is moved into cells and converted to energy. In type 1 diabetes, the body’s immune system destroys the insulin producing cells located in the pancreas, so that insulin must be provided from an external source, either by injection or pump. Type 1 diabetes makes up about 10 percent of cases in the US and usually occurs in children and young adults. In type 2 diabetes, people develop insulin resistance, leading first to higher insulin production and then abnormal insulin production. Type 2 diabetes accounts for 90 percent of cases and is most common in adults.

Depression is generally characterized as sadness or lack of feeling that interferes with normal functioning. If response to a stressor such as loss of a loved one or another very difficult life event, it is characterized as disproportional to the normal response. It may be caused by one or more factors including genetics, biochemistry, stress, medicines, and/or medical conditions. It is generally considered to be underdiagnosed.

Diabetes as a Risk Factor

Depression is a widespread health concern, but people who have diabetes may have an increased risk of becoming depressed. A 2001 study called “The Prevalence of Comorbid Depression in Adults With Diabetes,” which evaluated the data in previously done studies, showed that having diabetes doubles a person’s risk of having depression compared to people who do not have diabetes. The study also found that diabetic women were statistically more likely than diabetic men to be depressed and that people with uncontrolled diabetes were more likely to be depressed than those in whom diabetes was controlled.

There are several suggested causes for this relationship. The daily regimen of handling diabetes can create long-term stress and lead to depression. Long-term difficulties in controlling blood sugar levels or finding out that you face complications from diabetes can make life seem difficult. In fact, the more complications of diabetes a person faces, the greater his or her chances of becoming depressed. Another thought is that the metabolic effects that diabetes has on the brain can lead to depression.

Depression as a Risk Factor

Depression may be a risk factor for diabetes in several respects. First, people with a history of depression are more likely to develop diabetic complications than those without such a history. Second, people who are depressed may make a number of decisions that can lead towards a greater likelihood of acquiring diabetes. These include unhealthy eating choices, smoking, overeating, and failing to exercise regularly.

Interestingly, when a person who is depressed, insulin resistant, and at risk for type 2 diabetes is treated for depression, the insulin sensitivity improves. This has led to the conclusion that depression is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes.

One current theory suggests that the stress hormone cortisol is the link. Cortisol levels are raised when a person is depressed, affecting blood sugar metabolism, insulin sensitivity, and belly fat build up - another risk factor for type 2 diabetes. It is also suggested that depression’s disruption of serotonin levels or immune system function may also link to higher type 2 diabetes risk.

Other Relationships

There are other factors that link diabetes and depression. For one thing, when diabetes is not well controlled, it can have symptoms that appear to be, but aren’t, indicative of depression. Depression can also make simple tasks seem overwhelming, and may make the regimen needed to control diabetes seem impossible, leading to worse diabetes and more complications. In addition, diabetes and depression share some risk factors, including obesity and inactivity. And they also share some symptoms, including fatigue,

Treating Diabetes and Depression

It is possible to treat diabetes and depression in tandem. Psychotherapy is often suggested, but it’s important to know that medications for depression, such as antidepressants, can be used by people with diabetes. The prescribing physician will need to know about the patient’s diabetes, though, to make sure that the medication will not adversely affect blood sugar levels. Regular exercise is beneficial to both conditions and actually helps to prevent both insulin resistance - which is related to type 2 diabetes - and depression.



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