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How Diabetes Can Lead To Depression?

Dr. Rajesh Kesari 87% (27 ratings)
Diploma In Diabetology, MD - Diabetology
Endocrinologist, Delhi  •  22 years experience
How Diabetes Can Lead To Depression?

The risk of developing depression is found by the means of various researches to be two to three times higher in individuals suffering from a chronic disease than in normal individuals. Type 1 and type 2 Diabetes are chronic diseases that can prove to be very challenging to manage due to various setbacks and complications that can come in the way. Regular monitoring of the blood sugar levels is essential in managing the blood sugar. Navigation of the health care facilities, side effects caused by medications, and other related health conditions or even diabetic complications can cause an increased risk of developing depression. If left undiagnosed and untreated, depression can give way to a poor lifestyle choice that can further deteriorate the physical health of a person.

Various risk factors that are associated with diabetes and depression are as follows-

  • lack of physical activity
  • poor social environment
  • poverty
  • stress during pregnancy

Depression in diabetes can occur simultaneously due to a variety of factors. These include the psychological and psychosocial impact of the disease on an individual, a potential common genetic susceptibility and certain common pathophysiological abnormalities that involve neuro-immunological and neuro-endocrinal pathways, as well as microvascular brain lesions due to diabetes mellitus. However, issues concerning pathogenesis and causality of this high co-occurrence are not fully determined yet. Still, the presence of depression in patients with diabetes mellitus is of vast importance, as it is usually associated with poor disease control, adverse health outcomes and quality of life impairment.

When an individual is suffering from diabetes, the awareness of risks of developing depression is essential. It has been widely researched and found that these two conditions can occur simultaneously, where depression is usually undiagnosed. Diabetes, specifically type 2, and depression affect each other in a bi-directional manner, which means that each of the disease can prove as a risk factor for the other. In a state of depression, it is common for a person to consume high calorie foods and also to lead a sedentary lifestyle. This tendency can prove to be a risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes.

If an individual already has type 2 diabetes, the stress experienced during the management of disease can cause depression. Type 1 diabetes develops as result of the defect of pancreas in production of insulin.

People with type 1 diabetes can also develop depressive symptoms due to difficulties in the management of the disease. If the symptoms of depression develop in the patient already suffering from diabetes, management of diabetes also becomes difficult. This can lead to cause various diabetes related complications and also decrease the life expectancy.

Various signs that can be observed in a state of depression are as follows:

  1. Complete lack of interest in doing any activity
  2. Irritation or mood swings
  3. Depressed mood
  4. Disturbed sleep pattern
  5. Changes in the appetite
  6. Constant feeling of despair
  7. Guilt Fatigue, weakness
  8. Difficulty in concentration, transient memory loss
  9. Suicidal tendency

There is a certain risk observed between the consumption of antidepressant medicines and development of diabetes. It has been researched and concluded that consuming antidepressants should always be on physician recommendation, with a prior advice on the risks of developing diabetes. It has also been found that the people with type 2 diabetes, who are using insulin regularly, are at higher risk for developing depression as compared to the people on non-insulin medications or following only diet or lifestyle modification habits. An additional stress experienced in managing diabetes and accessing the health care services can cause such complication in insulin users.

Common treatment protocol for depression includes psychotherapy or the cognitive behavioral therapy. It helps people to correct destructive thought patterns and behaviors that tend to increase the depressive symptoms. Other interventions like a structured problem solving approach, motivational interviewing, and interpersonal approach towards the patient is also effective in management. Certain medications can also help in mood-lifting and the management of symptoms of depression.

In diabetics, the treatment options that are available in addition to the standard medical healthcare provision includes self-management training sessions that help the people to increase healthy habits and improve control on their blood sugar levels. Diabetes as well as depression can improve with complete focus on lifestyle changes, like proper diet management and exercising regularly.

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