Hello everyone! May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and we’re talking about something that often goes unmentioned in the diabetes world- depression. There is a noticeable link between diabetes and depression, and having diabetes means your risk of depression can be 2-3 times higher. Knowing about this link and being aware of your own mental health can make it easier to manage your diabetes, and to get help and support if needed.
Living with a chronic illness is a lot of work, and can be exhausting for a number of reasons. People with diabetes are constantly testing blood sugar levels, choosing which foods to eat accordingly, dealing with highs and lows, navigating a social life while managing symptoms, and so much more. Add to this that diabetes is an invisible illness, where people don’t often know or understand that the person may be struggling, and it is easy to see how a person can become overwhelmed or stressed out trying to manage.
Stress is the main link between diabetes and depression, and it is working hand in hand with both illnesses. When the body is in stress, the stress hormones are activated which can decrease insulin’s ability to utilize blood sugar. Stress also releases excess glucose into the blood stream in order to fuel the stress response, known as fight or flight (or freeze). If a person has chronic stress, they will therefore have a much harder time managing their blood sugar. And in an awful cycle, the stress will make it harder to manage diabetes, and having a harder time managing diabetes then causes more stress.
If you’d like to learn more about the mental effects of diabetes, please read this article from the Center for Diabetes and Mental Health.
Signs of Depression with Diabetes
- Trouble with sleep
- Loss of interest in things you once enjoyed
- Feelings of guilt
- Low energy and frequent fatigue
- Poor concentration
- Appetite chanages
- Purposefully neglecting diabetes management
- Suicidal thoughts
If you experience any of these signs it is important to talk to your doctor and get help right away.
Living with diabetes can be hard, and requires a good support system of family, friends and your healthcare team. You should always be aware of your mental health, and not be afraid to communicate with your doctor if you notice any signs of depression. If you are struggling, consider joining a Diabetes support group. Being able to talk to others with similar experiences and struggles can lift the feelings of loneliness, and have shown to improve one’s ability to manage the disease. If you are struggling to support a loved one with diabetes, read this article from Easyhealth Living to learn more about what you can do. And don’t forget, if you ever feel lost or like you are struggling, reach out and get the help that you need.