Stress Management > Chronic Illnesses > Diabetes and Depression

Diabetes and Depression

In addition to the symptoms of depression that may be experienced by the vast majority of people suffering from depression, those who are also diabetic may suffer from additional symptoms that may contribute to their mood and emotional wellbeing.

  • Extreme psychological distress over diet with fear of self induced problems
  • Feelings of resentment and isolation
  • A lack of desire to effectively self care
  • Anger
  • Guilt
  • Feelings of a shortened life expectancy
  • Suicidal thoughts

See more: Affects on body

Impact of traditional treatment for depression with diabetes

It is generally the case that people suffering from symptoms of depression for a minimum of two weeks are diagnosed as clinically depressed. The course of action as a GP would be to prescribe a course of anti-depressant drugs which under normal circumstances would be taken for a period of six months after which the doctor will review the case. For a person with diabetes who is experiencing symptoms of depression, the doctor's reviews would be more frequent.

There are increasing numbers of reports suggesting anti-depressants, when taken by people suffering from a chronic physical illness such as diabetes, can lead to added side effects that can greatly impede the self-management of the condition.

The three main types of anti-depressants; Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs) and Tricyclics can have significant hypoglycaemic effects including lethargy, blurred vision, hunger, confusion and in some cases a loss of consciousness or convulsions. For a diabetic these episodes can be scary and misdiagnosed as a hypo and subsequently treated which can intern have problems for diabetes control.

Treating depression in diabetes with mindfulness

Mindfulness is 'paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally' (Kabat-Zinn).

Mindfulness teaches meditation exercises encourage a person to become aware of how their thoughts and emotions give rise to body sensations and vice versa. For example, feeling anxious may instigate nervous feelings of 'butterflies' in a person's stomach.

There has been a growing body of research investigating the use of mindfulness as a therapy for depression and relapse prevention.

Currently there is research and clinical trials being carried out establishing of mindfulness can not only aid psychological wellbeing but if this can in turn impact a physical illness such as diabetes.

Mindfulness training has been reported to significantly reduce blood pressure. According to a UK prospective Diabetes study, Diabetics with controlled blood pressure, are 30 percent less likely to suffer from diabetes related complications, including heart attack and strokes.