Diabetes and mental health: People with diabetes face discomforts that can vary depending on the particular characteristics of the disease.
Many organizations, such as the American Diabetes Association, indicate that diabetes and mental health are closely related; conditions such as depression and dementia are some of the most common conditions of this disease.
Diabetes and depression
Depressive symptoms and disorders affect one in four patients with diabetes.
Generally, when people with diabetes cannot manage the diagnosis well, their risk of related complications, such as heart disease and nerve damage, increases.
Only 25% to 50% of people with diabetes who have depression or anxiety are diagnosed and treated.
Some of the symptoms associated with the diagnosis and identified as depression are:
- Feeling sad or empty
- Losing interest in favorite activities
- Eating too much or not wanting to eat at all
- Not being able to sleep or sleeping too much
- Having difficulty concentrating or making decisions
- Feeling very tired
- Feeling hopeless, irritable, anxious or guilty
- Having general aches and pains, headaches, colic or digestive problems
It is important to talk to a specialist or counselor who can guide you through it and give you the right emotional tools to recognize the symptoms and act quickly.
A diagnosis of diabetes can naturally trigger a denial “I don’t”, or “I don’t believe it”, or “there must be some mistake”.
It is important to accompany the patient to accept their diagnosis and take action, continuing to deny it will increase the risk and their quality of life will decline.
It is estimated that between 33% and 50% of people with diabetes have depression or anxiety, to better manage the disease is important:
- Be sure to see an endocrinologist for diabetes care, who can explain the challenges of diabetes.
- See a mental health therapist who specializes in chronic conditions.
- See a diabetes educator.
- Join a support group for people with diabetes, so you can share your thoughts and feelings with others who have the same concerns.
Diabetes and mental health: cognitive decline
Studies have shown that having diabetes can lead to cognitive decline, triggered by vascular problems that have been associated with synaptic disconnection and neuronal cell loss, hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease.
People with diabetes can manage the disease and delay its effects in the following ways:
- Physical activity: even a short walk can have a calming effect, which can last for hours.
- Do relaxation exercises, such as meditation or yoga.
- Take a restful break to help you recharge your energy.
- Limit alcohol and caffeine intake, eat healthy foods and get enough sleep.
The American Diabetes Association recommends routine screening for symptoms of depression, anxiety and cognitive impairment in people with diabetes as part of the management of the disease.
Any of these conditions associated with mental health leads patients to neglect their treatment.
For this reason it is vitally important that patients educate themselves about the disease and understand what the possibilities are, so that through small changes they can maintain an optimal quality of life.
Information on the My Health Fair website should not be construed as professional advice or medical recommendations.
Readers should direct any questions regarding personal health care to licensed physicians or other appropriate health care professionals.