What is the Relationship Between Diabetes and Depression?

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  • Written By: Matt Brady
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 05 October 2018
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Studies have established a causal link between diabetes and depression. People with diabetes are more likely to suffer from depression than those without diabetes; conversely, those with depression are at an increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes. While there's no exact science that says one will develop diabetes and depression together, it's understood that each condition can, by itself, cause lifestyle changes that increase the risk for developing the other condition.

The lifestyle changes that accompany being diagnosed with diabetes can be emotionally and mentally jarring, enough so to cause depression in certain people. Newly diagnosed diabetics must learn how to manage their conditions, a daily responsibility which can lead some people to feel overwhelmed and alienated. On top of that, many diabetics are forced to drastically change their diets. It isn't uncommon for people to have an emotional attachment to food, and a extreme change in diet can result in moodiness and depression.

Diabetes and depression can also work in reverse, with depression prompting lifestyle changes that can lead to type 2 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes isn't necessarily developed by one's diet and level of physical activity; type 2 diabetes, on the other hand, often is. As it's common for depressed individuals to develop poor eating and exercise habits, it's also common for such individuals to develop diabetic symptoms.


The good news is that the causal relationship between diabetes and depression is preventable. Modern therapy and medication are quite capable of treating both conditions, but one must choose to seek help. One may have no control over developing type 1 diabetes, but with the right mindset and support group, he or she can avoid developing depression. Having the right support group is important, but there is, of course, also an element of self-help; someone who struggles with depression, for example, can make a conscious effort to avoid developing poor eating and exercise habits, which could trigger diabetes.

It's important for people dealing with one condition to know the symptoms of the other so that, in the event that both diabetes and depression develop, swift treatment can be sought to avoid unnecessary complications. Diabetics can watch for classic signs of depression, such as feelings of apathy; trouble sleeping; feeling unmotivated to accomplish normal activities, such as getting out of bed; suicidal thoughts; and feelings of melancholy and hopelessness.

Those who suffer from depression can likewise watch out for classic signs of diabetes. These can include extreme fatigue, insatiable hunger and unquenchable thirst, drastic weight loss, frequent urination, and blurry vision, among other signs. If one experiences any combination of these symptoms, it's important to seek medical help immediately. Diabetes is a perfectly manageable condition, but it can be deadly if left untreated.



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