Diabetes and Depression – Is There a Link?
We don’t currently understand the true nature of the relationship between diabetes and depression, though it does seem clear that there is a link between the two. An increasing number of studies are showing that diabetics are at a higher risk of developing depression, with some studies indicating that having diabetes could even double your risk. Diabetes and depression are both relatively common globally, affecting 8 to 10% of the world’s population respectively, so overlaps are to be expected. But studies have consistently shown that diabetes and depression present together nearly twice as often as chance alone would have it.
There are a variety of theories about the link between the two. For starters, diabetes and depression share a lot of the same risk factors. Obesity and inactivity both increase your risk of diabetes and depression alike. A family history of either condition or the preexistence of heart disease or hypertension will likewise increase your risk of diabetes or depression.
Symptoms of Depression
Depression presents a range of symptoms, some of which are very similar to those that emerge when diabetes is managed poorly. Blood sugar that is too high or too low can cause feelings of anxiety or restlessness. Low blood sugar can make you constantly fatigued and unenergetic, or cause shakes and tremors. All of these symptoms also resemble common symptoms of depression.
By itself, depression looks different for everyone and can include a variety of symptoms, all of which may or may not be present. Changes in your energy level are very common. Many people with depression experience insomnia, and are unable to sleep or wake many times throughout the night. Others feel tired all the time, and unable to summon the energy to do things they typically enjoy, let alone things they don’t enjoy eating and showering.
Depression is a mood disorder, so changes in emotions are common. People with depression might report feelings of nervousness or anxiety, in addition to the long-term sadness that we typically associate with depression.
If you experience any of these symptoms, they might be symptoms of either depression or diabetes, so don’t keep them to yourself. Be sure to visit your doctor to get checked out.
How can Depression Affect My Diabetes?
Depression and diabetes can affect each other, and having either diabetes or depression might increase your risk of developing the other disease.
Diabetes can cause health problems and physical complications (like obesity) that can create or worsen symptoms of depression. The health problems associated with diabetes, like high blood sugar, might also take a toll on brain function, and may increase your risk of depression. And managing diabetes in general is a stressful, difficult task which can easily take a toll on mental health.
People who are depressed often make unhealthy lifestyle choices, like eating too much, or eating a lot of comfort foods that are high in fats and sugars. Combined with a lack of exercise, this can cause weight gain and high blood sugar, which are both risk factors for diabetes.
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