Can Diabetes cause depression?
There is no sure answer on the connection between the two. Depression, for one thing has become a common ‘sickness’ in human beings since the prehistoric period. I understand that people without health insurance, unemployed, and divorced are likely to suffer from depression and that’s a fact. With diseases, research says that it is thrice likely to occur in people living with Diabetes.
Depression affects 25% of cancer patients, over 50% anorexia patients, and 27% diabetes patients. Diabetes ranks no. 8 in the list of depression-prone diseases. But, considering 26 million Americans have Diabetes and 79 million have pre-diabetes, 27% is still a huge number.
We can assume that depression is a Diabetic’s response to the demanding lifestyle because:
- Managing can be stressful
- Complications and medications can aggravate the symptoms of depression
- Lifestyle changes, giving up habits that make a person happy, and switching diets may also affect mood and lead to depression
- Depression can lead to poor lifestyle and eventually diabetes
Depression can have serious impact on a Diabetic’s quality of life big-time. It may de-motivate them to manage their condition in an efficient manner and it becomes a story with no happy ending.
Diabetes and depression
André Kleinridders, Ph.D. believes Type 2 Diabetes is a potential trigger of depression. In his study, he centers on the insulin resistance in the brain of young-adult lab mice.
He compared the behavior of healthy mice with brain insulin-resistant mice. The latter not only suffered from decreasing dopamine and serotonin levels in the brain but also declining motor skills.
Later, he treated the brain insulin-resistant mice with anti-depressants. The mice showed signs of health improvement to full recovery, suggesting that brain insulin resistance is a contributing factor. It also suggests that diabetes-specific depression can be treated.
Diabetes patients, however, face a bigger problem than just depression. The proper name for this is diabetes burnout.
What is diabetes burnout?
Depression is just a fraction of the whole thing.
Diabetics get overwhelmed by the daily grind. Maintaining or hitting the right blood sugar level, committing oneself to regular exercise, and choosing the foods to eat prove to be tiring in the process.
What can you expect? The disease does not guarantee favorable results and offer little satisfaction no matter how hard you work.
Merely discovering they have diabetes is already devastating. The disease still poses a threat even if they have an army of supporters that include people living with it for 10 or 20 years.
After several years of managing the disease, people living with diabetes may reach a point of submission or giving up. They stop caring about their well-being and engage in activities that are harmful to their health.
They know it, but they don’t mind it. Why? Perhaps because they like the sense of freedom they get from breaking the rules.
Characteristics of diabetes burnout
While depression stands out as a major sign of diabetes burnout, it is not the only issue to tackle. There is also
- Loss of enthusiasm
- Emotional fatigue
- Mental exhaustion
I guess anyone can see it coming. Here’s another equation:
Healthy diet, exercise, consistent BG monitoring = Positive results
Not everyone gets positive results all the time though. The end results disappoint more often than not.
Serious complications trigger diabetes burnout. The worse the complication gets, the more chances of experiencing it. And this can cause mild to horrifying outcomes. Losing the ability to manage Diabetes may end you up in a coma due to hypoglycemia—worst case scenario.
There are ways to address these conditions.
Manage your expectations
It’s normal for Diabetics with target blood glucose level to feel frustrated when the readings return results they do not expect. Relieve yourself from the stress of trying to perfect your A1c test. Forgive yourself and do not blame yourself for it. Better yet, be realistic with your goals and don’t aim too high.
Sometimes, Diabetes does things that are out of your control. It’s the nature of the disease so it’s not always your fault that you don’t reach your target numbers. Here’s a good post from Delighted Momma’s blog about Diabetes burnout.
Identify the barriers
Find out what’s getting in the way of your proper diabetes self-care. For example, you need your regular exercise, right? But your week’s schedule is hectic and you have no time for gym. You can buy a treadmill or stationary bike or perhaps do simple cardio workouts at home to lessen your stress of having to drive to the gym.
List down the all the obstacles and their solutions.
This will help you see the big picture.
Get your own support group
Get some support from friends, colleagues, family members. It works all the time, so don’t shut off the people you care about in your life. They are life-savers. You know you can’t do this alone especially if you are slowly feeling the weight of it all. Make other people aware of your condition and ask them for support by keeping you motivated and on track. Let them know your limitations as well when it comes to diet and habits.
Managing diabetes is not easy. The complications are a bitter pill to swallow. Think about the hassles of having to cope with two or more health issues to keep you motivated. Save yourself from the burden of having to juggle 10 balls at the same time.
Chemical imbalance is one huge aspect to look at when you are in the midst of a breakdown. Look at the rest of it at a different angle. Diabetes burnout is more of emotional issue rather than physical.
The numbers you get each time you stick a needle are a proof of your loss against a battle that is meant to go on forever. But instead of looking at it this way, why don’t you consider it as a sign that you are fighting and not just standing still waiting for your life to be over.
The bad or good numbers mean you are living with it. You fight to live, not to win. Last time I checked, there’s no cure for Diabetes yet so technically, absolute victory is far from reality just yet. The beauty of it is, you keep winning.