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Emotions and Diabetes - The Link between Depression and Diabetes

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The Link Between Depression and Diabetes

By Nina Nazor

People with diabetes are at greater risk for developing depression

What is the relationship between depression and diabetes?

If you have diabetes, you may be at greater risk for depression and, if you have depression, you can have a greater risk for developing diabetes.

In people with diabetes, depression is associated with poor glucose control, an increased risk of complications and a decreased quality of life, maybe because it interferes with the daily care a person with diabetes must have.

Also, research reports that when someone has diabetes and depression, there is an increased risk of death from all causes, beyond that due to having either diabetes or depression alone.

Furthermore, there is a grief period after the diagnosis of diabetes. When you or somebody you love has been diagnosed with diabetes, there is an emotional impact that can trigger different reactions like anger, denial and/or depression.

Some people experience the diagnosis of diabetes as an equivalent to losing something very precious. It all depends on the beliefs of the person. If the person has sad memories of a loved one dealing with the complications of diabetes such as amputations, blindness or kidney failure, then it is very probable that the newly diagnosed might get really frightened and depressed.

After some weeks the person must start to adapt to the diagnosis. The best aids for this period are diabetes education and meeting other folks with diabetes. Knowledge gives people with diabetes the power of controlling their own problem with the help of their healthcare team.

If the newly diagnosed person is not feeling better after a couple of months and seems to be showing the symptoms of depression, then professional help must be seek in order to help that person cope with diabetes and depression.

Some years ago, while I was working for Eli Lilly Mexico as a diabetes educator, a young man who was attending our diabetes education classes shared with all the group his experience. He told us that just few weeks ago he had been about to end his life because he thought life was over for him. He had two small kids and was completly frightened about the recent diagnosis because he had seen his dad die of diabetes, with both legs amputated, at the age of 46 years. Thanks God he was feeling better, with hope and a lot more self confident, because through education, he realized that he could really make a difference and take the control of his diabetes into his hands.

The good news is that if you have depression, all is not lost. Studies report that people with diabetes respond well to standard treatments for depression, including antidepressant medications and brief psychotherapy (counseling). Furthermore, getting treatment for depression can improve your blood glucose levels.

Prescription antidepressant medications, "talk" therapy, cognitive-behavior therapy, light therapy, exercise, healthy eating, stress management, all work in a way or another to help us feel better.

One last thing, please don't start any treatment without consulting with your doctor.

Adapted from: Depression and Diabetes: A fact sheet. National Institute of Mental Health.

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