Depression and Diabetes: What is the Connection?

Health Education
March 18, 2022
3 min read
Depression and Diabetes: What is the Connection?

It’s common for depression and diabetes to overlap. With the stress of managing a life changing disease, it’s no surprise that patients experience depression. What is the connection between the two?

Can Diabetes Cause Depression?

When someone is diagnosed with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, they are at risk for developing depression. Trying to manage the disease, tracking blood sugar, making meal plans, doing insulin injections, staying active…it can become overwhelming. Aptly referred to as “diabetes burnout,” many diabetics experience this. However, there is some good news. Diabetes and depression can be treated in tandem, and effectively managing one has a positive impact on the other.

How Are Diabetes and Depression Related?

Depression symptoms can begin immediately after a diabetes diagnosis. Anger, hopelessness, and sadness are all common emotions to experience after a diabetes diagnosis. While it’s important to allow yourself space to feel these emotions, it’s equally important to keep them in check. These emotions can lead to worsening anxiety and depression.

The relationship between depression and diabetes isn’t fully understood, but there are distinct correlations. The stress of managing a debilitating disease, negative lifestyle changes due to depression, and the impact depression has on daily tasks can all interfere with daily life.

What if I Experience Denial?

Just like anger and hopelessness, denial is also a common experience following a diabetes diagnosis. It’s common to feel like your doctor has made a mistake or that there is no way you could possibly have diabetes. Just like anger and hopelessness, it’s ok to allow yourself to feel this. However, you will need to accept the diagnosis. The sooner you are able to come to terms with it, the sooner you will be able to get a hold on the disease. If you catch yourself thinking things such as “just one bite won’t hurt” or “I’ll go to the doctor some other time,” it’s time to rework your thoughts. Everyone goes into denial for things, but it’s important to ensure you don’t stay there.

How Can I Manage Depression and Diabetes?

There are several ways to manage depression and diabetes at the same time. Therapy is a good way to manage both. Patients who have enrolled in therapy (especially cognitive behavioral therapy) have reported major improvements in their depression, which allows patients to better manage their diabetes. Similarly, enrolling in diabetes self-management programs that focus on behavior has shown great results for patients. Another way to manage both diabetes and depression is through medication and lifestyle changes.

What Are the Signs of Depression?

It’s important to know the signs and symptoms of depression. Experiencing sadness and disappointment occasionally is normal. However, there are times that those feelings don’t go away. Some symptoms of depression may include:

  • Emotional flatness
  • Irritability
  • Loss of interest in hobbies or work
  • Angry outbursts
  • Fatigue
  • Sleep disturbances (insomnia or oversleeping)
  • Reduced appetite
  • Overeating
  • Anxiety
  • Slowed thinking
  • Fixation on past failures
  • Self blame
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Unexplained physical pain

For many people, depression symptoms are severe enough to cause disruptions in daily life. Many people feel unhappy or even miserable without understanding why. Depression can happen to anyone.

When to See a Doctor

Finding the right diabetic care team is imperative for managing your depression and diabetes. If you are concerned about your diabetes or depression symptoms or are looking for a new care team, it may be time to reach out to a doctor. At BASS Medical Group, your care is our top priority. Call (925) 350-4044 to schedule your appointment today. Depression and diabetes can be difficult diseases to manage, but together, we can do it.