The Link Between Diabetes and Depression

The Link Between Diabetes and Depression

The Link Between Diabetes and Depression

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Your mental health touches so many parts of your daily life. It affects how you think and feel, handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Your thoughts and feelings affect how healthy you are.

It isn’t surprising that having a mental health problem can make it harder to stick to your diabetes care plan. Left untreated, a mental health problem can make diabetes worse. At the same time, problems with diabetes can make mental health issues worse.

But here’s some good news: if one gets better, the other tends to get better, too.

Diabetes and Depression

When diabetes is not managed well, the risk goes up for serious complications like heart disease, kidney failure and nerve damage.

Studies show that about 40 percent of people with diabetes have depression. Depression can get in the way of managing your diabetes and how you care for yourself in general. It can lead to making risky choices like:

  • Unhealthy eating
  • Lack of exercise
  • Weight gain
  • Not taking your medicine

It’s important to know the signs of depression:

  • Feeling empty or sad
  • Feeling hopeless, grouchy or anxious
  • Losing interest in favorite activities
  • Overeating or not wanting to eat
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Having a hard time focusing or making decisions
  • Feeling very tired
  • Having pains, headaches or digestive problems
  • Having thoughts of suicide or death

Without treatment, depression often gets worse. But treatment, including therapy, medicine, or both, is often very effective.

Manage Your Medicine

Taking your medicines is vital to getting better. If you don’t, your symptoms may come back. It can even put you in the hospital. To start:

  • Talk with your pharmacist about keeping up with refills.
  • Use a pillbox to help you organize your medications.
  • Set an alarm on your phone or clock as a reminder to take your medicine.
Your Doctor Can Help

Be sure to keep appointments with your doctor and other health care providers and discuss any questions you may have. Work with your diabetes care team on your treatment plan and goals, like a blood glucose level that is right for you.

Talk openly about how you’re following your treatment plan. Talk about any barriers that may affect your treatment success. That might include trouble keeping up with taking your medications or side effects from them. Don’t stop taking them. Call your doctor and share your concerns.

And if you’re struggling with depression, talk to your doctor about a referral to a mental health provider with experience in diabetes.

Remember, your doctor is ready to help you work toward good physical and mental health.

Don’t Hesitate to Ask for Help

Diabetes can be overwhelming, so it’s important to ask for help. Your diabetes care team can help you make a plan and set your goals. And tell your friends and family how they can help you stick to your plan.

Sources: Diabetes and Mental Health, leaving site icon Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2023; Understanding diabetes and mental healthleaving site icon American Diabetes Association; What Is Depression?, leaving site icon American Psychiatric Association, 2020; Web-Based Interventions for Depression in Individuals with Diabetes: Review and Discussion, leaving site icon JMIR Diabetes, 2018; Diabetes and Depression, leaving site icon Psycom, 2022; Intervention Strategies for Prevention of Comorbid Depression Among Individuals with Type 2 Diabetes: A Scoping Review, leaving site icon Frontiers in Public Health, 2019

Originally published 11/2/2020; Revised 2022,2023