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How Diabetes Can Lead To Depression

Constant managing of diabetes - glucose testing, eating the right foods, exercise, etc. - can be stressful, and sometimes lead to depression.

According to the American Diabetes Association, studies show people with diabetes have a greater risk of depression than those without.  

Dr. Rhonda Goen, a psychiatrist with Parkland Hospital System, explains.

Highlights from Dr. Goen’s interview:

Why people with diabetes are susceptible to depression: “It’s probably related to them having an illness that requires them to take care of it day in and day out. They have to take medication. They have to exercise. They have to eat the right foods. Just the stress it puts on them increases the chances they may feel depressed.  Also some think the lifestyles some people may predispose. Maybe they’re financially not able to make ends meet, the types of food they need, they may generally don’t exercise or eat right. That may just cause more depression and more diabetes.”

What is diabetes distress? “All the stress involved in taking care of the illness itself.  (It’s not the same as depression) Depression is an illness that’s defined by certain parameters. You’ll either have to have (over at least two weeks time) a depressed mood or decreased interest in your life, and then you’ll have to have a symptom complex that defines what depression is.”

Treatment for depression: “Depending on the level of depression, it may be as simple as psychotherapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy is often times used to help people with problems that they get associated with their thinking about having the illness of diabetes. Sometimes it’s maybe just five or six sessions and all of a sudden they feel more empowered and they feel like they’re able to take care of themselves and they don’t have a problem with it. Certainly, there are other people with get more serious depression and they could get treatment for it with medication.”

For more information:

National Institutes of Health: Diabetes & Depression

American Diabetes Association

WebMD: Links Between Diabetes & Depression

Sam Baker is KERA's senior editor and local host for Morning Edition. The native of Beaumont, Texas, also edits and produces radio commentaries and Vital Signs, a series that's part of the station's Breakthroughs initiative. He also was the longtime host of KERA 13’s Emmy Award-winning public affairs program On the Record. He also won an Emmy in 2008 for KERA’s Sharing the Power: A Voter’s Voice Special, and has earned honors from the Associated Press and the Public Radio News Directors Inc.