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Depression and Diabetes: Is There a Link?

Diabetes is a serious condition, and living with it can be a challenge.  It can take a toll on your emotions. People with the disease are twice as likely to get depressed as people who don’t have it.

Depression is a problem on its own, and it can also keep you from taking good care of yourself. That can lead to high blood sugar levels and diabetes complications.

Recommended Related to Diabetes

Are You in Diabetes Denial?

Don White, 68, a retired science teacher from upstate New York, first suspected he had type 2 diabetes when he was 45 years old and his school held a health fair for students and teachers. A simple prick of his finger to test for high blood sugar -- a sign of diabetes -- revealed some unexpected news. "My numbers were way above normal," says White. "In a matter of days, and a couple of doctor's appointments later, I found out I had type 2 diabetes." White and his family were surprised by the diagnosis...

Read the Are You in Diabetes Denial? article > >

So if you think you might be depressed, tell your doctor. You can take some steps to feel better.

The Link Between Diabetes and Depression

Depression is a complex disease. Its root causes can be tied to genes, your environment, and emotions. Managing diabetes can be stressful and time-consuming. The lifestyle and diet-related limits can make life seem less fun.

Depression Symptoms

There are several warning signs, including:

  • Sadness
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Lack of interest in things you once enjoyed
  • Pulling away from your social life
  • Can't concentrate
  • Insomnia (trouble falling and staying asleep)
  • Lots of guilt or feeling worthless
  • 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 right away.

How Is It Diagnosed?

Your doctor will make the call based on the symptoms you tell him about. Lab tests aren't used to diagnose depression.

How Is It Treated?

Your doctor will work with you to control your depression. If he suggests you try medication, he can prescribe one or more of these  drugs.

Tricyclic antidepressants boost the levels of certain chemicals in your brain that help nerve cells communicate with each other. If these chemicals are out of balance or don’t work like they should, messages might not make it through your brain correctly, and that can lead to depression. Common tricyclics include amitriptyline (Elavil), desipramine (Norpramin), doxepin (Sinequan), imipramine (Tofranil), and nortriptyline (Pamelor).

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) affect the way your brain uses a chemical called serotonin. Changing the balance of this chemical may help your brain cells receive messages better and boost your mood. Examples of this type of antidepressant include citalopram (Celexa), escitalopram (Lexapro), fluoxetine (Prozac), paroxetine (Paxil), and sertraline (Zoloft).

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