Did you know depression and high stress are surprisingly common among people with type 2 diabetes? And both depression and stress can have serious consequences when combined with diabetes. Here are some important facts you might not know:
- Depression is twice as likely in people with diabetes as in people who don't have diabetes.
Researchers don't know if diabetes actually contributes to depression, or if depression leads to the onset of diabetes (or both). But it's clear that depression is more common in people with diabetes. In some studies, 15-20% of people with diabetes have depression, compared to around 8% of people without the condition.
- Stress can increase your blood sugar levels.
Unfortunately, diabetes and stress can go hand in hand. We all know that too much stress is unpleasant. But it can also raise your blood sugar, which can lead to serious medical problems over time. If your blood sugar readings are higher than your goal, stress could be a cause.
- People with depression symptoms are less likely to communicate with their doctor.
Clear communication with doctors and other treatment providers is important for people who are managing their diabetes. Unfortunately, people with depression symptoms are more likely to not discuss their self-care, including diet, exercise, and blood sugar checks, with their doctor, according to a recent study. The good news is that you can make changes in your life to reduce stress and symptoms of depression. If you find yourself frequently feeling down or stressed out, think about this good news:
- Exercise has emotional as well as physical benefits.
You know exercise has many benefits for your physical health. Did you know it can boost your emotional health as well? Just 30 minutes of physical activity a day can increase your energy, decrease stress, and help you to clear your head and feel less overwhelmed. Talk to your doctor about what kinds of physical activity are best for you. You don't need to join a gym—walking, gardening, and dancing all count as exercise.
- There are many ways to get support for your diabetes.
You don't have to deal with diabetes and depression alone. If you are ready to ask for help, you have a lot of options. Check with your healthcare provider or with the American Diabetes Association for local chapters or support groups in your area. Ask your doctor to recommend a registered dietician or other professionals who can provide reliable support for the day-to-day challenges of managing diabetes. Check community organizations for exercise or meditation classes that can help change your physical and emotional experience.
- Professional treatment is available and effective
Everyone gets sad or stressed sometimes. But when sadness and feeling overwhelmed go on for more than 2 weeks, it could be a sign of depression, which should be treated with psychotherapy or medicine. Talk to your healthcare provider if:
- You've lost interest in or get no pleasure from doing things you usually enjoy.
- You've felt down, depressed, or hopeless for the past 2 weeks or more.
Medline Plus: Diabetes http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/diabetes.html
National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH): Depression and Diabetes http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/depression-and-diabetes/index.shtml
National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP): 4 Steps to Manage Your Diabetes for Life http://ndep.nih.gov/publications/PublicationDetail.aspx?PubId=4
Centers for Disease Control (CDC): Living with Diabetes http://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/living/index.html
American Diabetes Association (ADA): Stress http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/complications/mental-health/stress.html
United States Department of Agriculture (USDA): SuperTracker http://choosemyplate.gov/supertracker-tools/supertracker.html
Beverly, E. A., Ganda, O. P., Ritholz, M. D., Lee, Y., Brooks, K. M., Lewis-Schroeder, N. F., ... & Weinger, K. (2012). Look Who's (Not) Talking Diabetic patients' willingness to discuss self-care with physicians. Diabetes care, 35(7), 1466-1472. http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/35/7/1466.short