Depression and Diabetes - Discussion and Treatment

Is there a link between depression and diabetes? Are diabetic persons more likely to also be depressed? If so, what are the possible reasons?

Depression is a significant issue on both a public health level, and an individual one.

Research has consistently shown that people with diabetes have an increased risk of developing depression. Although it is unclear whether the reason for this is of an environmental / circumstantial nature, or a biological one, the fact remains that there is a definite link between depression and diabetes.

Between the stress of daily diabetes management, the feelings of isolation it can create, and diabetes complications, frustration and sadness can build in individuals with diabetes. Furthermore, depression can create a vicious cycle, blocking proactive, helpful self-care, and create disturbances in maintenance of a stable blood sugar level. Recognizing the signs of depression, and moving forward through treatment are absolutely essential for people with diabetes.

There are a number of ways to recognize depression. The major distinguishing characteristic of depression is anhedonia, or the failure to derive pleasure from things that one used to enjoy. Another symptom of depression is a change in sleep patterns, which can either be insomnia (difficulty falling or staying asleep) or wanting to sleep more than usual, including during the day.

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A note about Depression and Diabetes - Discussion and Treatment

In natural health and healing, we believe in holistic health and healing, as we realize that different parts of the human body are highly interlinked, often beyond Man's understanding. We also believe that the body has the ability to heal itself of any disease, even supposedly incurable diseases.

In order to do so, the body needs the support of some basic dietary and lifestyle good health habits, such as a full body detox and a proper understanding and application of nutrition. No matter how remote or unrelated a health condition may seem, these fundamental health steps will greatly magnify the effects and benefits of any of our health-promoting efforts, including the use of specific natural health remedies.

Other ways to recognize depression include noticing a change in appetite, having difficulty with concentration, and a pervasive feeling of fatigue. Nervousness and excessive anxiety can also accompany depression, as can a feeling of guilt - feeling as though one is a burden to others or fails to live up to what one ‘should’ do.

Two distinctive symptoms of depression (as they tend not to occur with other types of mental illness, as some of the above mentioned symptoms can) are “morning sadness,” which is marked by a feeling of dread and deep sadness that is worse in the morning than during the rest of the day, and suicidal thoughts - thoughts about wanting to hurt oneself or wanting to die. After recognizing symptoms of depression, the absolute most important thing to do is to take the next step and talk to someone, preferably a doctor who is best equipped to provide an assessment of the depression; this will help break the depression and diabetes cycle.

What are the possible biological links between depression and diabetes? Depression can have physical causes, particularly in diabetic people. Poor control of blood sugar can lead to symptoms that mimic clinical depression. High blood sugar can lead to feelings of anxiety, and low blood sugar often causes a feeling of fatigue.

Furthermore, erratic blood sugar levels can affect appetite quite markedly, and several aspects of diabetes may result in abnormal sleep patterns. Distinguishing between the characteristics of depression and side effects of poorly managed diabetes can be quite difficult, and is probably best left to a professional - and in either case of depression and diabetes, relief is available.

There are many ways to treat depression. Psychotherapy and behavioral modification are great options. Research has consistently shown that exercise is very beneficial to those suffering from depression. Many nutritionists also advocate for nutritional plans that limit blood sugar spikes, so as not to induce bad moods - something that fits into the diabetic lifestyle quite well, helping to tackle both depression and diabetes.

Some herbs and herbal remedies that are thought to be useful in alleviating the side effects of depression are licorice, St. John’s wort, basil, ginkgo biloba, sage, thyme, borage, and ginseng. It is important that anyone considering incorporating a new element into their lives consult their health practitioner before doing so, so that their treatment plan will incorporate all aspects of their lifestyle.

Depression is unfortunately common in people with diabetes. The reasons for this have not been clearly established through research. However, with a clear analysis of an individual’s background, personal experiences, and symptoms, a physician should be able to provide treatment in a manner that improves the depressed state and is specialized for those suffering from diabetes.

Depression doesn’t have to be a “fact of life” for people with diabetes - it is essential to realize that help is available, and recognizing the symptoms of depression so that treatment can be pursued is the first step to moving away from the depression, and finally breaking the depression and diabetes cycle.

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