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Depression and Diabetes

Depression is about twice as common among people with diabetes than the general population, affecting at least 15% of people with the condition.

While depression in and of itself is a problem if left untreated, depression can also have a negative impact on diabetes self-management, blood sugar control, and the potential for complications. If you are feeling depressed, be sure to tell your health care provider. There are steps you can take to feel better.

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Living well with type 2 diabetes means making certain precautions part of your routine, says Amy Campbell, MS, RD, CDE, manager of clinical education programs at Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston. She offers this advice. Make a date with a dietitian. "It's a myth that there's a one-size-fits-all diabetes diet," Campbell says. A dietitian can help you develop an eating plan that's right for your age, weight, activity level, and medications, and can also set daily calorie and carbohydrate targets...

Read the 6 Tips to Get Your Diabetes Under Control article > >

The Link Between Diabetes and Depression

Depression is a complex disease; its root causes can be genetic, environmental, and emotional. For people with diabetes, depression can develop as a result of the lifestyle adjustments they have to make to control their diabetes. Managing diabetes can be stressful and time-consuming, and the dietary restrictions can make life seem less enjoyable.

Symptoms of Depression

There are several warning signs and symptoms of depression, including:

  • Sadness
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed
  • Withdrawal from social activities
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Insomnia (difficulty falling and staying asleep)
  • Excessive feelings of guilt or worthlessness
  • Loss of energy or fatigue
  • Changes in appetite
  • Observable mental and physical sluggishness
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

If you (or someone you love) has diabetes and show signs of depression, tell your doctor immediately.

Diagnosing Depression

There are no lab tests to specifically diagnose depression. The diagnosis is based on reported symptoms -- including any problems with functioning caused by the symptoms.

Depression Treatment With Diabetes

Depression in people with diabetes is usually treated the same way as depression in non-diabetics. Tricyclic antidepressants are a class of drugs that work by increasing the levels of norepinephrine and serotonin, neurotransmitters in the brain that help nerve cells communicate with each other. If these chemicals are out of balance or not working properly, messages may not make it through the brain correctly, leading to symptoms of depression. Tricyclic antidepressants work by correcting the balance of these chemicals. Common tricyclics include Elavil, Norpramin and Pamelor.

Another type of antidepressant, is selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Examples of this type of antidepressant include Lexapro, Prozac, Paxil, and Zoloft. They work by blocking the reabsorption of serotonin in the brain.

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If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.

People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

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