What factors can contribute to depression if I have diabetes?

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Sad feelings, researchers suspect, can make you want to do some pretty unhealthy things—like pig out before bed, sack out on the couch all day or maybe even smoke or drink. And those are all things that could put you on the road to diabetes. But bad habits are only part of the picture, experts note. Even in the absence of bad habits, depressed people are still more likely to develop diabetes.

Donna Hill Howes, RN
Family Practitioner

If you have diabetes, look for the following symptoms of depression:

  • loss of interest in things you once liked 
  • trouble sleeping or sleeping more than usual
  • tiredness (fatigue)
  • eating more or less than usual
  • difficulty concentrating
  • anxiety
  • feeling as though you are useless
  • morning sadness
  • having suicidal thoughts

If you suspect you have depression, talk to your doctor or mental health provider. Treatment is available.

While the cause of depression among people with diabetes is not clear, its probable cause lies in the interactions among physiological, psychological and psychosocial factors.

Physiological factors include genetic predisposition, obesity and age. Psychological factors such as stress cause the body to secrete adrenaline, noradrenalin and cortisol, which raise glucose levels. Lastly, psychosocial factors such as lack of support, knowledge and resources can impair the ability of the individual to provide appropriate self-care.

Depression amplifies diabetes symptoms, including excessive urination and thirst, shakiness, blurred vision and sleepiness. Both conditions can cause fatigue, inability to concentrate, changes in sleep patterns and appetite and agitation. Depression also increases disability rates for diabetes patients.

This content originally appeared online at Baptist Health South Florida: https://baptisthealth.net/baptist-health-news/diabetes-depression-merge/?cat=life.

The relationship between diabetes and depression is complex. Mounting scientific evidence now suggests that people with diabetes are at least twice as likely to have depression as those in the general population. These increased rates of depression among people with diabetes have been confirmed in multiple studies, as well as across different cultural and ethnic groups. While there is a close relationship between depression and diabetes, there is a lack of public awareness about this relationship.

If you are newly diagnosed with diabetes and learning about the disorder when depression strikes, you may feel overwhelmed by trying to manage both disorders day-to-day. Or perhaps you have lived with diabetes for a while, and you have been struggling to maintain needed lifestyle changes when depression hits.

Whether newly diagnosed, or someone who has had diabetes for a long time, the burden of managing the disorder on a daily basis can be stressful, and the addition of depression can make managing each day more daunting. If you have diabetes and think you might have depression, seek help immediately.

Untreated depression in diabetes can increase the risk for diabetes-related complications—such as heart disease, blindness, amputations, stroke, kidney disease and sexual dysfunction. By getting early treatment for depression, you can often avoid these serious complications.

Continue Learning about Depression Causes & Risks

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.