How’s that for a depressing subject line? It’s the topic of a mini-article I just had published in this weekend’s issue of Parade magazine. I’ll paste the text below, but the bottom line is that, in addition to putting you at increased risk of depression, diabetes (of both types) might just increase your risk of dementia as well. (As if you needed something else to worry about!)
I’ve consciously decided not to worry about it, since the most likely theories for the relationship are related one way or another to poor glycemic control. As is so often the case with diabetes, I have to trust that all the daily work I do to keep on top of my diabetes is going to benefit me in the long-run. That is, if it doesn’t drive me crazy first. . . .
Anyway, here’s the text:
Given the responsibilities that come with diabetes—the monitoring, the medications, the constant self-control—it’s not surprising that people who have the condition are twice as likely to suffer from depression as those who don’t. “It’s a 24-hour disease,” explains John Anderson, M.D., president- elect of medicine and science at the American Diabetes Association. “Anything that puts that type of increased burden on a person can increase the risk for depression.”
But here are two things you might not know: People with depression are 60 percent more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, and a recent study from the University of Washington found that those who suffered from both diabetes and depression were twice as likely to develop dementia as people with diabetes alone. The exact causes for these findings are unknown, but experts theorize that inflammation brought on by high levels of stress hormones could lead to insulin resistance, and that damage to tiny blood vessels caused by high blood sugar might also affect the brain. It’s enough to make you, well, depressed.
Luckily, there are steps you can take to prevent or ease depression. The first is to recognize its signs: In addition to the obvious (feeling sad or down much of the time), you might feel overwhelmed by daily tasks (including your diabetes care), experience appetite changes, or have unexplained ailments like back pain or headaches.
If you suspect you may have depression, see your health care provider: She can give you a quick screening questionnaire and recommend treatment options, which may include counseling, lifestyle modifications like exercise, or therapeutic drugs. According to new research, treating both conditions together can result in a better outcome for your blood sugar and your mood.