Friday, July 17, 2009

Feelin’ The Blues

According to the experts, the exact cause of depression in patients with diabetes is unknown. It is likely complex, involving interactions among psychological, physical and genetic factors. If you do a search on diabetes and depression, you will see this statement repurposed over and over. What does it tell us? Not much! We know that irregular glucose levels, substance abuse, eating disorders, smoking, noncompliance in diabetes care, physical activity and weight gain all affect one another, and feed into the life cycle of depression. It is stated that diabetics are twice as likely to suffer from depression than someone without diabetes. This is all great information but does it really offer a lot of insight into why we feel the blues? Not really!

Experts cannot tell us what really causes depression. There are no blood tests or brain scans to diagnose depression yet it is a real phenomenon that many people must deal with. Currently the best way to treat depression among any population, diabetic or not, is through the use of a combination of medication and therapy. We know this works, just not exactly why or how it works.

There are not a lot of answers as to why we are at risk. But we do know we are at risk for depression. Let’s face it, it is hard to live with a chronic illness that is 24/7 that you never get a break from. You can’t just wake up one morning and say “hey, I am going to pretend I am not diabetic this weekend and not take my shots (or pills or pump)” and expect to not end up sick or in the hospital. The planning, glucose monitoring, unexpected highs and lows, and the healthcare costs can drain a person. On top of that, many health care teams don’t even consider the emotional and mental impact of living with this disease!

So what do you think about the link between diabetes and depression? What do you think causes the higher risk of depression to diabetics? Have you suffered from depression since being diagnosed diabetic?

1 comment:

  1. Well, with me it's hard to tell which came first, because I have a history of major depression on my mother's side. Both of her parents and several aunts and uncles were routinely treated with ECT (shock treatments). It was the only thing available.
    So I definitely think there is a physiological faulty wiring in the brain.
    The thing with the db is 1) daily stress from behavioral demands 2) and maybe neurons not firing properly due to high, low, or fluctuating blood glucose.
    It's all so damn complex. More answers than questions.
    I have been on antidepressants for about 7 years (and had them constantly recommended for the decade before). I was hospitalized for DKA and the admitting doc asked how it happened and I said I was depressed. The next morning there was a new little pill in my cup and an entire bottle in my discharge med sack.
    The meds take the edge off. I no longer have my "crazy woman meltdowns" and my moods are more stable. But, it's still an enormous daily challenge to live with T1 db, with so many tiny variations in a million different things throwing us off.