Do you or a loved one with diabetes struggle with depression or anxiety? If so, you’re not alone. Nearly one in five people with diabetes suffers from depression, and often it is undiagnosed. Depression can make diabetes self-care seem very overwhelming. Learn the signs to look for and steps you can take -- or share with others -- to keep depression at bay.
Signs and symptoms of depression
Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed, difficulty sleeping or concentrating, agitation, lack of energy, and weight loss or weight gain are all signs of depression and should be taken seriously. Some people may also be overwhelmed by feelings of guilt and anxiety, all of which can have negative effects on self-care.
What Can You Do?
Don’t give in to denial
It is often easy to be in denial about diabetes, especially if you are not experiencing symptoms. Denial often results in a lack of self-care, which can eventually lead to depression and other serious repercussions. The sooner you take diabetes seriously, the more likely you are able to make positive changes and avoid the devastating effects of both depression and diabetes-related complications.
Make small manageable changes
Taking small steps toward big goals is the most effective way to make positive changes. For example, if you need to lose 50 pounds, start out with small goals of 10 pounds. Each time you reach a goal, set a new 10-pound goal until you achieve 50 pounds. Be sure to reward yourself (not with food, of course) each time you reach your goal.
Work with your family doctor or endocrinologist to develop a treatment plan
Your family doctor can help screen for signs of depression and manage your diabetes. Endocrinologists specialize in diabetes, which can be especially helpful whether you are on insulin or take oral medication. Your doctor can also refer you to a nutrition center for diabetes education like the one at Lancaster General Health.
Taking diabetes classes or working one-on-one with a dietitian or diabetes nurse educator can be a great way to take control of your diabetes. It’s an ideal way to learn the ins and outs of the disease as well as get personalized tips, meal plans, and exercise advice.
Get support from friends and family
By far, one the most important components of diabetes care and preventing depression is being surrounded by people who will support you and the changes you are making. If you have unsupportive friends or relatives, encourage them to come with you to diabetes classes or one-on-one counseling sessions, so they can also learn why diabetes self-care is so important.
Finding activities you enjoy can not only help relieve stress, but keeps you moving, helping to control your diabetes and avoid depression. Explore a myriad of indoor and outdoor activities such as yoga, meditation or prayer, walking, reading, or fishing, to name just a few.