Today, modern medicine, allopathic or alternative, recognizes depression as an illness. Many suffering this condition also are previously diagnosed with a “traditional” illness. For diabetics, it’s bad enough having a serious health problem. This in itself can be the cause of depression due to its impact on your life. To consider the changes you face in lifestyle, the financial burden, and possible shortening of your lifespan, all are ingredients in a mixture of confusion, astonishment and fear.
With diabetes in either Type 1 of 2 form, the prospect of additional illness and impairment that may result from a variety of complications is enough to send anyone into a pit of darkness. In the realm of that disease in particular, many people are unaware–even when diagnosed as diabetic–that there is a definite depression factor involved. The fact is, the incidents of depression in diabetics are much higher than among the general population.
There have been studies carried out to examine the issue of diabetes and depression. It can be seen in some respects, as the age-old question of “which came first, the chicken of the egg?” According to some data, people suffering from depression are much more likely to become diabetic. It has also been observed that, among those who already have the disease, complications are often worse if depression is added to the picture. In work done on the subject by a team of researchers led by Dr. John D. Piette, PhD, a Veterans’ Affairs Career Scientist and Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Michigan (see “The American Journal of Managed Care” for the article), the reason behind such an outcome is partly because, when someone is depressed, their physical activity level is lower. Exercise, this study found, is beneficial in controlling both a patient’s blood sugar and depression.
Another factor contributing to the depression/diabetes problem is the autoimmunity root of diabetes. Depression can lower immunity even further, thus “speeding up” onset of the inevitable, or exacerbating an already-existing condition. Cortisol’s link to diabetes also cannot be ignored, since this “stress hormone” raises blood sugar levels, resulting in insulin resistance as well as impairing the immune system. A person under continual stress is more likely to experience depression as the result of this emotional wear-and-tear.
For those suffering from depression and diabetes, the answer doesn’t have to lie in a prescription of chemicals, many of which can interferer with blood sugar levels and/or other medications. As with any sort of depression or stress, finding the root cause is essential. Circumstances in a person’s life often lead to feelings of hopelessness that can be corrected b removing the cause or making behavioral changes. Even relationships, in numerous situations, can burden a person into despair.
In the event of depression that is induced by diabetes, there are natural means of handling this as well. Better control of the disease by diet and exercise will change blood sugar levels. As well, cortisol levels will be lowered, thus decreasing insulin resistance. Exercise, in addition, releases endorphins, the “feel-good” natural chemicals that combat depression. Other measures such as acupuncture and herbal treatment (using St. John’s Wort, or valerian for depression, and cinnamon or crepe myrtle for blood sugar control, as examples) are effective in such cases.
Having support from other diabetics is also a powerful tool in adjusting to a fresh diagnosis or with complications. For diabetics in the LA area wishing to find help in coping with the illness, see: