The Link Between Diabetes and Depression

Even in today’s world, where we are encouraged to seek help when we feel vulnerable and low, it seems as if there are many people out there that still choose to suffer in silence, rather than seek help.

Sadly, one of the main reasons for this is the fact that they fear they will be ridiculed.

Mental health issues are incredibly common, with 1 in 4 people estimated to suffer from some form of mental health issue at some point in their lives.

Despite this, many still view it as a taboo subject, which is sadly why they choose to suffer in silence.

Another very devastating health condition, however, is diabetes, and it is the link between diabetes and depression which we are going to be looking at today.

You see, the two have been heavily linked, and to understand one could provide clues into overcoming the other. Here’s a look at the link between diabetes and depression.

The Link Between Diabetes And Depression

Over the years, there have been several studies carried out on diabetes and depression, and the findings have primarily pointed to the fact that the two are heavily linked to one another. Some researchers refer to diabetes and depression as being bad twins.

You see, if you suffer from type-1 or type-2 diabetes, you are more likely to suffer from depression.

Experts are not yet entirely sure why the two are linked, though the consensus is that they are indeed related.

Many experts believe that stress is a common trigger. You see, when we are stressed, we produce and secrete stress hormones such as cortisol.

These hormones can affect the way you digest and metabolize food. What’s more, when we are stressed, we often experience a lack of motivation and energy, and we often crave unhealthy food.

Unhealthy food promotes obesity which is a precursor for diabetes, though you can have diabetes only by eating the wrong foods, even if your weight is healthy.

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How Does Depression Affect Diabetes?

As mentioned, we aren’t sure why the two are so heavily linked, though there are a lot of theories floating around that do appear to make a lot of sense.

You see, 1 in 4 people with diabetes will likely suffer from depression in their lifetime.

What’s more, they will likely be affected by it in a different way to how people suffer from depression that isn’t diabetic. Depression can exasperate the condition and make it worse for many reasons.

Diabetes is a condition that can be managed by making healthy lifestyle changes. If you eat right and exercise more, you’re already on the right track.

However, when we’re stressed and depressed, we crave unhealthy food, and we lack the energy and motivation needed to exercise.

A lack of exercise and an unhealthy diet will only serve to make diabetes worse, which is the last thing you want.

What Does The Research Say?

So, what do the experts have to say? Well, although experts are not entirely sure why the two are linked, there have been a number of studies carried out over the year, that have proved that the two are related. To begin with, a lot of the time the depression remains undiagnosed.

Furthermore, for people residing in countries with low incomes, health and medical services are often lacking, which can result in patients failing to receive adequate mental health care.

However, it is also interesting to note that beta cells located in the pancreas, which are responsible for the secretion of insulin, could also be involved. You see, in the brain, depression has been linked with a lack of adequate neurotransmitter secretions.

Research has found that people that struggle to secrete optimal levels of neurotransmitters may also struggle to secrete enough insulin to regulate blood glucose levels adequately.

Neurotransmitters in the body, and beta cells, both have very similar secretion processes, so this theory has a lot going for it.

Treating Depression

 The good news is that depression can be treated in a variety of different ways. These include:

  • Cutting out junk food

  • Consuming healthy produce

  • Getting plenty of physical exercises

  • Spending more time outdoors

  • Cutting back on the amount of time spent using modern technology

  • Socializing

  • Giving up unhealthy habits

  • Using natural supplements such as Vitamin D, Calcium, and St John’s Wort

  • Using prescription drugs and medications

  • Counseling

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)

So, as you can see from the above, although we don’t know precisely how diabetes and depression are linked, they do appear to be connected in a variety of different ways, with lifestyle and dietary choices being key influencers.

The promising news is the fact that by addressing one you may be able to benefit the other and help prevent the entire process from carrying on like a vicious cycle.

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  1. Bădescu SV, Tătaru C, Kobylinska L, et al. The association between Diabetes mellitus and Depression. J Med Life. 2016;9(2):120–125.
  2. Nicholson TR, Taylor JP, Gosden C, Trigwell P, Ismail K.. (2009). National guidelines for psychological care in diabetes: how mindful have we been?. Diabetes Medicine. 26 (4), p447-50.
  3. Kowalski AJ, Poongothai S, Chwastiak L, et al. The INtegrating DEPrEssioN and Diabetes treatmENT (INDEPENDENT) study: Design and methods to address mental healthcare gaps in India. Contemp Clin Trials. 2017;60:113–124. doi:10.1016/j.cct.2017.06.013
  4. Groot,M, Kushnick, M, Doyle, T, Merrill,J, et al. (2010). Depression Among Adults With Diabetes: Prevalence, Impact, and Treatment Options. American Diabetes Association. 23 (1), p15-18.
  5. Engum, A ,Mykletun, A, Midthjell, K, Holen, A ,et al. (2005). A large population-based study of sociodemographic, lifestyle, and clinical factors associated with depression in type 1 and type 2 diabetes. American Diabetes Association. 28 (8), p1904-1909.

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