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Diabetes and Depression – The Startling Link Between the Two

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For some as yet undetermined reason, those with diabetes seem to be at high risk for developing depression. Possibly it is merely because people with an illness generally have more to be unhappy or sad about than someone in perfect health. And with diabetes, you have the constant reminders of how dependent you are on certain devices.

For example, before or after each meal, you are pricking your finger to test blood sugar. You are constantly reading the labels on foods making sure that you are not taking anything that will harm your condition. And, in the more advanced cases, you are constantly having to remember to take your medications.

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Diabetes symptoms can also sometimes mimic the signs of depression, making it difficult to tell one from the other. For instance, those with diabetes often suffer from low energy levels and listlessness due to the inability of their cells to make use of the glucose in their blood stream. These symptoms are also typical signs of someone in a depressed state. Likewise, the weight of someone with diabetes may dramatically fluctuate. This is another symptom that both diseases have in common. Seeing your doctor is the wise thing to do in either of these cases. He is the only person that can make a true diagnosis of your symptoms.

What is confusing many researchers, however, is that recent studies seem to point to the fact that depression is not a result or side-effect of depression. Rather, they point to depression as being a predictor of diabetes.

The famous Johns Hopkins study of 2004 included over eleven thousand non-diabetic test subjects. The study followed these people for over six years. The results were startling in that a large percentage of those who developed depression in those years, later also developed diabetes. Other studies, while not replicating the exact conditions of the Johns Hopkins study have, nevertheless, found very strong associations between the two disease - diabetes and depression.

Other factors pointing to some unusual connection between the two diseases is that some drugs commonly prescribed for depression have been found to affect glucose blood levels also. There are various theories as to why this is so. One of the most common theories that has taken hold is that drugs for depression affect hormones such as cortisol, which are also implicated in diabetes. The only way to find out for sure is to have more controlled clinical trials, which are on the way. In the meantime, if you are currently being treated for depression, it would make good sense to begin to watch out for diabetes symptoms as well.

Depression is a serious enough disease of its own. A person with depression often has a lack of self esteem and powerlessness that may begin to affect how she takes care of herself. She may become lax in taking the proper medications for both diabetes and depression. That is why having a strong support system is critical for anyone with depression. A support system of family, friends, health care professionals,and so on can help someone with depression keep focused on caring for herself and keeping herself healthy.

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Alice Saracho writes about nutrition and news related to diabetes such as type two diabetes diet [] and American Diabetes Foundation []. Please visit her website for more articles.

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