It's Not Your Imagination: Diabetes and Depression Are A Disabling Duo

| Oct 22, 2007

Depression, according to new research just published in The Lancet, is more damaging to your everyday wellbeing than chronic diabetes, angina, asthma, or arthritis. But the most disabling of all is the combination of depression and diabetes: If you have both, you are living at the equivalent of only sixty percent of full health.

The huge study, sponsored by the World Health Organization, collected data from over 240,000 people from sixty countries. It asked eighteen questions pertaining to general health and disability in working or household activities, plus twelve questions about sleep, pain, cognition, self-care, vision, mobility, energy, and personal activities.

On the basis of interviews and those self-reports, people with neither depression nor chronic disease had the highest health score: 90.6. But things went down from there. People with either asthma, angina, arthritis, or diabetes had health scores of about 79.

For those with depression alone, the health score was only 72.9, indicating that depression produces the biggest decline in general health of the five chronic conditions. Of the people with diabetes, 9.3 percent also had depression. And they were in the worst shape of all on measures of general health.

The researchers advise that when treating people with chronic disease, physicians need to widen their focus, looking beyond the physical ailment alone to consider the patient's mental health. Unfortunately, depression doesn't get the serious attention paid to physical ailments, possibly because there is no lab test to diagnose it.

In Australia, for example, fewer than thirty percent of patients receive good treatment for their depression, in contrast to the eighty to ninety percent who receive good care for arthritis or asthma. The researchers believe that better access to treatment may be why the chronic diseases are less disabling than depression.

Nevertheless, there are now effective ways to treat depression, including medication as well as counseling, and such treatment can have a profound healing effect on a patient's overall health and wellbeing.

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Sources:; The Lancet, September 2007;; Medpage Today

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Categories: Depression, Diabetes, Diabetes, Professional Issues, Type 1 Issues

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Posted by Anonymous on 26 October 2007

I have previously worked in a clinic that screened for depression in the diabetes population on a yearly basis. The treatment for depression was usually a combination of medication and counseling.In explaining counseling to patients, I would say counseling helps the individual to look at the stress in their life. A good counselor helps patients look at how they usually cope with the differnet stressors in their lives and encourage their patients to identify additional strategies they could use. In managing diabetes, time spent looking at ways to improve stress management is as important as the time spent looking at ways to improve eating habits.

Posted by Anonymous on 28 December 2007

I have been living with depression all my life. Medicine helps as does counceling . Kindness, understanding plays the biggest part in dealing with it. It is hard to eat right with depression. Now I have learned I have boarder line diabetes. I am hopeing to come to terms with this and understand how I am supposed to eat . But one thing I have Learned Is...don't deny the problem, face it. And keep a good attitude, look for the good things in life, be a blessing in someone elses. Allow your self rest , don't get down on your self, and accept your self for who you are. You are just as special as the next person.

Posted by IslandgirlNM on 23 February 2008

I am a 39 yr old woman with type 1 diabetes for the past 28 yrs and I have been depressed off and on throughout my life but of late I have been severely depressed for the last 8 years at least. I can say personally it is very difficult to be depressed and diabetic. I have found with depression, I don't care about my diabetes which leads to high blood sugar levels which leads to complications which leads to more depression. It is a cycle and from my experience meds are only as good as the doctor prescribing them. Therapy which has been the greatest help, it limited. So I applaud all those who say.."keep going", "Don't give up", "Empower yourself" that sounds great, but not everyone is at that point. There are days I find it hard to just live. Diabetes is not like anything else. I think about my diabetes every other minute of everyday, of every month of every year...That is not like angina or asthma. My blood sugars can go from 800 to 47 in a 12 hour period. The article is right, people don't take depression seriously because there is no test or level. However, for many people depression is very real. I am glad to read there is a correlation between diabetes and depression.

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