The International Diabetes Foundation (IDF) reports that over 463 million adults were living with diabetes in 2019. The disease led to 4.2 million deaths in the same year. IDF also reports that the number of adults afflicted with diabetes is expected to rise to 700 million by 2045.
What Is Diabetes or Diabetes Mellitus?
Diabetes can be explained as a chronic disease that occurs due to two reasons – one when the body cannot produce enough insulin (Type 1 Diabetes), and two, when it cannot effectively use the insulin produced (Type 2 Diabetes).
The result of this insulin imbalance is uncontrolled blood sugar, which can spike to dangerous levels, a common side effect of diabetes.
Living With Diabetes
Dealing with diabetes requires a lot of self-restraint and attention, and may impair your schedule at the time. Regular glucose monitoring, insulin, medications, controlled diet, extra expenditure, and stress can lead to irritability and frustration and other emotional complications.
However, there’s nothing wrong with feeling low at times – it is a normal feeling that every individual goes through. But, if you have frequent mood swings (which is another side effect of diabetes), feel sluggish or tired most of the time, don’t feel like working out or going to work – you may have diabetes and depression.
According to research, “Depression occurrence is two to three times higher in people with diabetes mellitus.” In the same study, it is pointed that the “prevalence rates of depression could be up to three times higher in patients with type 1 diabetes and twice as high in people with type 2 diabetes compared with the general population worldwide.”
The paper goes on to add that, “The presence of depression and anxiety in diabetic patients worsens the prognosis of diabetes, increases the non-compliance to the medical treatment, decreases the quality of life and increases mortality.”
How Are Diabetes and Depression Related?
According to research, if you have diabetes, you are at an increased risk of developing depression. Also, If you are depressed, you may have a higher chance of developing type 2 diabetes due to poor lifestyle choices.
Fortunately, it is possible to treat both the conditions together, and managing one will also improve the other. However, before we speak about treatment, let us understand how depression and diabetes are related:
First and foremost, if you have diabetes, managing your condition could interfere with your routine, leading to stress and symptoms of depression. Fluctuations in blood glucose levels are also known to cause rapid mood swings, which can result in emotional stress, strained relationships, and, eventually, depression.
On the other hand, depression can make you withdrawn and lethargic, which can lead to poor lifestyle choices such as bingeing, starving, alcoholism, less exercise, smoking, weight gain, etc. All these factors can put you at a higher risk of contracting type 2 diabetes. Depression may also hamper your ability to think clearly and act responsibly, which can interfere with the management of any other condition you suffer from, including diabetes.
An article published on diabetes.co.uk states that depression can affect your capacity to deal with diabetes. It refers to research that points out, “people who suffer from both diabetes and depression have poorer metabolic and glycaemic control which has, in turn, been found to intensify symptoms of depression.”
Depressed people with diabetes may also face difficulty in adhering to a diet and medication, which can further aggravate their condition and reduce their quality of life. Of course, when you are dealing with a chronic disease like diabetes, it is natural to feel overwhelmed at times. However, if feelings of sadness and anxiety have stayed with you since long, check for the following symptoms to identify if you have depression:
1. Sleeping too much or having difficulty in falling asleep
2. Feeling lethargic all the time
3. Overeating or lack of appetite
4. Lack of concentration
5. Feeling alone or isolated at all times
6. Constantly feeling nervous or anxious for no reason
7. Feeling sad in the mornings and not finding pleasure in the activities you generally enjoy
8. Thoughts of suicide or self-harm
Also, remember that diabetes can also lead to symptoms of depression, such as low energy levels, anxiety or nervousness, etc. Therefore, if any of these symptoms persist for more than a few days, you must consult a doctor to determine whether your symptoms are due to depression or poor management of diabetes.
Seek Help to Manage Your Health Better
Prevention is always better than cure. That’s why it is crucial to take timely action by consulting a doctor if you experience any of the above-listed symptoms. Once your doctor investigates the cause of your symptoms, they can work with you to develop an action plan to manage your condition better.
Depending on the severity of your condition, your doctor may prescribe medications for diabetes and depression, and suggest some lifestyle changes, such as regular exercise, to alleviate both the conditions. In cases of depression, some doctors may recommend psychotherapy to enforce positive coping mechanisms.
Mayo Clinic also points to the benefits of collaborative care. It refers to research that “shows that treatment supervised by a nurse case manager that steps up therapy when needed helps improve both depression and diabetes.” Unfortunately, most hospitals are not equipped with such a facility. But things are all set to change with Phable, an AI/ML-based platform that enables continuous care for patients, despite their location and distance from a medical facility. The platform offers personalized guidance, health predictions, and continually monitors your health, sharing all the vital information with your doctor to prevent any medical emergencies. Following a healthy lifestyle has been made easier, thanks to Phable.
If you are living with diabetes, remember you are not alone. Keep your symptoms under check, and your physical and mental well-being will improve.
Phable is an innovative lifestyle disease management app simplifying life for patients & doctors through health monitoring and doctor intervention.