Diabetes and depression: Is there a connection?
by Maureen Sullivan, RN, CDE* *(CDE-Certified Diabetic Educator) www.MaureenSullivanRN.com
tudies have shown that people with diabetes are at higher risk of developing depression. Although there is no single reason why depression occurs in this group, there are several challenges associated with diabetes that can be overwhelming to those with inadequate support systems. Daily monitoring of diet, activity and medication regimens can be stressful. Lack of knowledge on your chronic diabetic condition can be frustrating. Diabetic related complications, such as kidney disease, vision problems, and nerve damage (neuropathy) further compromise one’s coping abilities, increasing the risk of depression. Knowing the symptoms of depression is the first step to addressing the issue and improving the situation. Some symptoms of depression may be the following: • Changes in sleep patterns • Changes in appetite • Trouble concentrating • Loss of energy • Lack of interest • Feelings of sadness • Loss of pleasure It is important to discuss your concerns, and symptoms with your healthcare provider. Certain medical conditions may also mimic symptoms of depression (thyroid conditions, substance abuse, medication side effects). Medical illnesses can cause depressive illness, further prolonging the recovery period. Oftentimes, a combination of genetic, psychological, and environmental factors is involved in the onset
of a depressive disorder. It is important to rule out all causes for your symptoms and work with your healthcare provider to address an individualised treatment plan specific to your condition. Treatment options may include lifestyle changes, additional health education, psychotherapy, medication changes, and support groups. Knowledge is power and education is empowering. Simply learning more about diabetes, through formal classes, nutritional counselling, and support groups allows a person with diabetes to feel in control, less isolated, and capable of handling the daily demands often associated with diabetes. Diabetes can be a challenging health condition. Unlike other chronic health conditions that may require a simple diet change and basic medication compliance, diabetes is a multifaceted condition. Calorie and carbohydrate counting, daily activity requirements, frequent glucose monitoring, ongoing weight management, and more can be daunting to the individual lacking strong coping skills. Fortunately, there are multiple resources available to ensure a person with diabetes does not feel alone, isolated, and unable to manage their disease. Know the symptoms of depression and seek professional help. Learn effective coping skills and take back ownership of your health and wellness. www.diabetes.org www.diabetesforecast.org psychcentral.com p
Health Focus in this month is all about travel