It’s unfortunate to say that diabetes and depression go hand in hand…but they do. Depression is more common in children and adults with diabetes than in the general population and it is certainly something to look out for. People with diabetes find themselves asking questions like “why me?” and “what could I have done differently to not get type 1 diabetes?” Well, it’s not your fault, but just because you know that, doesn’t mean that you’re ready to believe it. This is where depression can get in the way.
Symptoms of depression include:
- Change in sleep habits
- Change in appetite or weight
- Feeling guilty
- Decreased energy
- Irritability, sadness, or feeling hopeless
- Decreased concentration, decline in school or work performance
- Lack of pleasure in things previously enjoyed
- No longer engaging in social activities
Depression can affect diabetes care in these ways:
- High blood sugars/HbA1c levels
- Irritability around doing blood sugars or taking insulin
- Not caring about or having the energy to do daily diabetes tasks
If your diabetes has caused you to be depressed, it’s important to understand a few things. First, you’re not alone. Many people struggle to mentally overcome this disease and sometimes let it beat them down. You are not alone in this diabetes-depression world and your feelings towards this disease are understandable. Second, once you recognize that you are depressed, it’s time to seek help. Maybe that just means you talk to a friend for advice or to brighten your day. Or maybe it’s time for a doctor’s visit. Either way, your blood sugars and mental health are suffering if you don’t try to get out of this depression.
If depression is left untreated and your diabetes management worsens, it can lead to long-term complications, such as blindness, amputation, kidney failure, stroke, and heart disease. If you are depressed and have a hard time reading that list of complications, it’s time to seek professional help from a behavioral health-care provider who can provide counseling and/or medications as needed. Your primary care physician or diabetes care team can provide recommendations and referrals for a behavioral health-care provider.
If you are living with depression, don’t just read this and move on with your day. Seek the help you need for a happier and healthier future.