What's the connection between diabetes and depression? How can I cope if I have both?

Answer From M. Regina Castro, M.D.

If you have diabetes — either type 1 or type 2 — you have an increased risk of developing depression. And if you're depressed, you may have a greater chance of developing type 2 diabetes. The good news is that diabetes and depression can be treated together. And effectively managing one can have a positive effect on the other.

How they're related

Though the relationship between diabetes and depression isn't fully understood:

  • The rigors of managing diabetes can be stressful and lead to symptoms of depression.
  • Diabetes can cause complications and health problems that may worsen symptoms of depression.
  • Depression can lead to poor lifestyle decisions, such as unhealthy eating, less exercise, smoking and weight gain — all of which are risk factors for diabetes.
  • Depression affects your ability to perform tasks, communicate and think clearly. This can interfere with your ability to successfully manage diabetes.

Managing the two conditions together

  • Diabetes self-management programs. Diabetes programs that focus on behavior have been successful in helping people improve their metabolic control, increase fitness levels, and manage weight loss and other cardiovascular disease risk factors. They can also help improve your sense of well-being and quality of life.
  • Psychotherapy. Similarly, participants in psychotherapy, particularly cognitive behavioral therapy, have reported improvements in depression, which has resulted in better diabetes management.
  • Medications and lifestyle changes. Medications — for both diabetes and depression — and lifestyle changes, including different types of therapy coupled with regular exercise, can improve both conditions.
  • Collaborative care. New research shows that treatment supervised by a nurse case manager that steps up therapy when needed helps improve both depression and diabetes. This type of care may not be available in most health care systems.

If you have diabetes, watch for signs and symptoms of depression, such as loss of interest in normal activities, feelings of sadness or hopelessness, and unexplained physical problems such as back pain or headaches.

If you think you might be depressed, seek help right away. Your doctor or diabetes educator can refer you to a mental health professional.

With

M. Regina Castro, M.D.

July 25, 2017 See more Expert Answers

See also

  1. Medication-free hypertension control
  2. A1C test
  3. After a flood, are food and medicines safe to use?
  4. Air pollution and exercise
  5. Alcohol: Does it affect blood pressure?
  6. Alpha blockers
  7. Amputation and diabetes
  8. Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors
  9. Angiotensin II receptor blockers
  10. Anxiety: A cause of high blood pressure?
  11. Artificial sweeteners: Any effect on blood sugar?
  12. Bariatric surgery
  13. Beta blockers
  14. Beta blockers: Do they cause weight gain?
  15. Beta blockers: How do they affect exercise?
  16. Blood glucose meters
  17. Blood glucose monitors
  18. Blood pressure: Can it be higher in one arm?
  19. Blood pressure chart
  20. Blood pressure cuff: Does size matter?
  21. Blood pressure: Does it have a daily pattern?
  22. Blood pressure: Is it affected by cold weather?
  23. Blood pressure medication: Still necessary if I lose weight?
  24. Blood pressure medications: Can they raise my triglycerides?
  25. Blood pressure readings: Why higher at home?
  26. Blood pressure tip: Get more potassium
  27. Blood pressure tip: Get off the couch
  28. Blood pressure tip: Know alcohol limits
  29. Blood pressure tip: Stress out no more
  30. Blood pressure tip: Watch the caffeine
  31. Blood pressure tip: Watch your weight
  32. Blood sugar levels can fluctuate for many reasons
  33. Blood sugar testing: Why, when and how
  34. Bone and joint problems associated with diabetes
  35. Pancreas transplant animation
  36. Build resilience to better handle diabetes
  37. Caffeine and hypertension
  38. Calcium channel blockers
  39. Calcium supplements: Do they interfere with blood pressure drugs?
  40. Can whole-grain foods lower blood pressure?
  41. Caring for a loved one with diabetes
  42. Central-acting agents
  43. Choosing blood pressure medications
  44. Diabetes
  45. Diabetes and dental care
  46. Diabetes and exercise: When to monitor your blood sugar
  47. Diabetes and fasting: Can I fast during Ramadan?
  48. Diabetes and foot care
  49. Diabetes and Heat
  50. Diabetes and menopause
  51. Diabetes and summer: How to beat the heat
  52. Diabetes and travel: Planning is key
  53. Diabetes and electric blankets
  54. 10 ways to avoid diabetes complications
  55. Diabetes diet: Create your healthy-eating plan
  56. Diabetes diet: Should I avoid sweet fruits?
  57. Diabetes foods: Is honey a good substitute for sugar?
  58. Diabetes and liver
  59. Diabetes management: Does aspirin therapy prevent heart problems?
  60. Diabetes management: How lifestyle, daily routine affect blood sugar
  61. Diabetes: Eating out
  62. Diabetes nutrition: Sweets
  63. Diabetes symptoms
  64. Diabetes treatment: Can cinnamon lower blood sugar?
  65. Using insulin
  66. Diabetic Gastroparesis
  67. Diuretics
  68. Diuretics: A cause of low potassium?
  69. Do you know your blood pressure?
  70. Erectile dysfunction and diabetes
  71. High blood pressure and exercise
  72. Exercise and chronic disease
  73. Fatigue
  74. Free blood pressure machines: Are they accurate?
  75. Frequent urination
  76. Home blood pressure monitoring
  77. Glucose tolerance test
  78. Glycemic index: A helpful tool for diabetes?
  79. Healthy heart for life: Avoiding heart disease
  80. Hemochromatosis
  81. High blood pressure (hypertension)
  82. High blood pressure and cold remedies: Which are safe?
  83. High blood pressure and sex
  84. High blood pressure: Can you prevent it?
  85. High blood pressure dangers
  86. Hypertensive crisis: What are the symptoms?
  87. Insulin and weight gain
  88. Insulin therapy options
  89. Intensive insulin therapy
  90. Isolated systolic hypertension: A health concern?
  91. L-arginine: Does it lower blood pressure?
  92. Late-night eating: OK if you have diabetes?
  93. Low-phosphorus diet: Helpful for kidney disease?
  94. Diabetes and carbs
  95. Medications and supplements that can raise your blood pressure
  96. Menopause and high blood pressure: What's the connection?
  97. Infographic: Pancreas Kidney Transplant
  98. Pancreas transplant
  99. Pulse pressure: An indicator of heart health?
  100. Reactive hypoglycemia: What can I do?
  101. Reading food labels
  102. Resperate: Can it help reduce blood pressure?
  103. Service dogs assist with diabetes care
  104. Sleep deprivation: A cause of high blood pressure?
  105. Blood sugar testing
  106. Sodium nitrate in meat: Heart disease risk factor?
  107. Stress and high blood pressure
  108. The dawn phenomenon: What can you do?
  109. Tips for cutting costs of blood glucose test strips
  110. Unexplained weight loss
  111. Vasodilators
  112. Vegetarian diet: Can it help me control my diabetes?
  113. How diabetes affects your blood sugar
  114. How to measure blood pressure using a manual monitor
  115. How to measure blood pressure using an automatic monitor
  116. What is blood pressure?
  117. Weight Loss Surgery Options
  118. Weightlifting: Bad for your blood pressure?
  119. What's your high blood pressure risk?
  120. White coat hypertension
  121. Why does diet matter after bariatric surgery?
  122. Wrist blood pressure monitors: Are they accurate?