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tudies have shown that people with diabe-
tes are at higher risk of developing depres-
sion. Although there is no single reason why
depression occurs in this group, there are several
challenges associated with diabetes that can be
overwhelming to those with inadequate support
systems. Daily monitoring of diet, activity and med-
ication regimens can be stressful. Lack of knowl-
edge on your chronic diabetic condition can be
frustrating. Diabetic related complications, such as
kidney disease, vision problems, and nerve dam-
age (neuropathy) further compromise one's coping
abilities, increasing the risk of depression. Knowing
the symptoms of depression is the first step to ad-
dressing the issue and improving the situation.
Some symptoms of depression may be the follow-
Changes in sleep patterns
Changes in appetite
Trouble concentrating
Loss of energy
Lack of interest
Feelings of sadness
Loss of pleasure
It is important to discuss your concerns, and symp-
toms with your healthcare provider. Certain medical
conditions may also mimic symptoms of depression
(thyroid conditions, substance abuse, medication
side effects). Medical illnesses can cause depressive
illness, further prolonging the recovery period. Of-
tentimes, a combination of genetic, psychological,
and environmental factors is involved in the onset
of a depressive disorder. It is important to rule out
all causes for your symptoms and work with your
healthcare provider to address an individualised
treatment plan specific to your condition.
Treatment options may include lifestyle
changes, additional health education, psychother-
apy, medication changes, and support groups.
Knowledge is power and education is empower-
ing. Simply learning more about diabetes, through
formal classes, nutritional counselling, and support
groups allows a person with diabetes to feel in con-
trol, less isolated, and capable of handling the daily
demands often associated with diabetes.
Diabetes can be a challenging health con-
dition. Unlike other chronic health conditions that
may require a simple diet change and basic medi-
cation compliance, diabetes is a multifaceted con-
dition. Calorie and carbohydrate counting, daily
activity requirements, frequent glucose monitor-
ing, ongoing weight management, and more can
be daunting to the individual lacking strong cop-
ing skills. Fortunately, there are multiple resources
available to ensure a person with diabetes does not
feel alone, isolated, and unable to manage their dis-
ease. Know the symptoms of depression and seek
professional help. Learn effective coping skills and
take back ownership of your health and wellness.
Diabetes and depression:
Is there a connection?
betes Corner
by Maureen Sullivan, RN, CDE*
*(CDE-Certified Diabetic Educator)
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