Depression - Coping with Diabetes

Everyone gets the blues now and then. It’s easy to feel blue when there is too much stress in your life, when sad things happen to you or your family, or simply from the everyday strain of living with diabetes. Learning new ways to cope with stress, figuring out what is important for you, solving the problems that you can, practicing your religion, and getting support are some ways to get past the blues.

Taking care of your diabetes can also help. People with type 2 diabetes who have blood sugars closer to normal report feeling more zest for living and an improved quality of life.

People with diabetes often say that they feel sad, scared, and angry all at the same time. Clinical depression is more common among people with diabetes, occurs more frequently, and lasts longer, compared with the general population.

It can occur any time - when you are first diagnosed or after you have been dealing with diabetes for years. Depression can coexist with other feelings, such as denial, anxiety, or even anger. When you are depressed,  it is often harder to pay attention to your diabetes.

People respond to depression in different ways. Some find that they aren’t hungry at all, while others eat to feel better.

Some people sleep all of the time, while others find that they toss and turn. It is also common to withdraw from family and friends or to stop doing things that you enjoy. If you experience any of the following, you may be depressed:

  • You no longer find pleasure in activities you once enjoyed.
  • You have trouble falling asleep at night or wake up once you have fallen asleep.
  • You feel tired during the day.
  • You no longer enjoy eating the foods you once liked.
  • You find yourself eating more or less than you used to.
  • You either gain or lose weight.
  • You have a hard time concentrating.
  • You have a difficult time sitting still.
  • You cannot seem to make even the most trivial decision.
  • You experience feelings of guilt or a lack of self-worth.
  • You feel that everyone else would be better off without you.
  • You entertain thoughts of suicide or think of ways to hurt yourself.

If you have any of the above symptoms or if you have been feeling sad or hopeless for more than a few weeks, talk to your health care provider. There may be a physical reason for your feelings of depression - a change in medication or high blood glucose levels, for example.

If there are no physical causes, ask to be referred to a mental health professional. Seeing a mental health professional does not mean there is something wrong with you as a person. It simply means that you may have a medical problem that affects your emotions.

You may see a psychiatrist, psychologist, psychiatric nurse, licensed social worker, or other mental health counselor. Your counselor may recommend psychotherapy,  medications,  or both. Many people find successful relief from depression from a combination of the two.  Many emotional problems are caused by chemical imbalances in the brain, and antidepressants can help you get back on track.

It is important to recognize the symptoms of serious depression and seek help right away. Unfortunately, when you feel depressed, you probably feel even less able to seek help. But it is the best thing you can do to get your life and health back on track.

Martha M. Funnell, MS, RN, CDE
Michigan Diabetes Research and Training Center
University of Michigan Medical School
Ann Arbor, Michigan

Robert M. Anderson, EdD
Michigan Diabetes Research and Training Center
University of Michigan Medical School
Ann Arbor, Michigan

Shereen Arent, JD
National Director of Legal Advocacy
American Diabetes Association

American Diabetes Association Complete Guide to Diabetes

Provided by ArmMed Media