November is American Diabetes Month. Considering the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic and all the challenges it brings and the increase in stress and depression, things are especially difficult for people living with diabetes and for those who love them.
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.
About Depression and Diabetes
Though the relationship between diabetes and depression isn't fully understood there are some things we know:
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 and diabetic complications.
Depression affects your ability to perform tasks, communicate and think clearly. This can interfere with your ability to successfully manage diabetes.
Weighing the Options
There is no “magic bullet” when it comes to treating depression or managing diabetes. It is important to weigh the benefits and costs of treatments. While antidepressant medications can be effective in lessening symptoms, they do not address the underlying cause of the depression and have many side effects that can further complicate diabetes.
Some of the most common side effects of antidepressant medications are nausea, increased appetite and weight gain, loss of sexual desire, fatigue and drowsiness, insomnia, dry mouth, blurred vision, and constipation. Each of these things can impact one’s ability to manage their blood sugar consistently. So, it makes sense to start exploring other ways of treating depression in diabetics. When we are able to treat the causes of depression along with managing the symptoms, the overall success improves.
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 resolve depression, lover stress, and improve your quality of life.
Effective Treatments for Depression
Medications for both diabetes and depression, along with lifestyle changes including regular exercise, and different types of therapy can improve both diabetes and depression.
Healthy eating when you have depression may also mean avoiding certain foods and beverages. For example, foods and drinks that are high in added sugars, such as processed foods, soft drinks, and sugary snack foods, may cause blood sugar levels to go up and down dramatically during the day. This may have a negative effect on mood and energy levels. It’s also a good idea to avoid alcohol, which can make depression worse. For some people, caffeine may also contribute to depression.
Exercise can also have a positive effect on your mood and energy level. Not only does exercise reduce depression, it gives people a sense of self-mastery and empowerment. Because exercise is a tool people can learn to use on their own, the results are often more effective and longer lasting than taking a medication. Walking is one of the best exercises for your mind and body, and can be done almost anywhere.
Talk therapy, or psychotherapy, is another valuable tool to combat depression. Two kinds of therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy and interpersonal therapy, have been found to be especially useful in treating depression. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) helps you look at how negative thoughts and behaviors may be contributing to your depression and teaches you how to make positive changes in how you think. Interpersonal therapy can help you improve your relationships with family and friends, so you feel better.
Talk therapy can last anywhere from several weeks to several years and can be one-on-one with a therapist or in a group. Many people combine therapy with other treatments, such as medication, diet and exercise, and complementary therapies.
Hypnosis may be one of the last things you’d think to add to your diabetes management plan, but you’d be missing out on some pretty significant benefits. Today, medical doctors are recognizing the benefits of hypnosis as a treatment option, so that you can have the best of both worlds by adding hypnosis to their diabetic treatment plan and helping their patients have more control.
As most people with diabetes already know, blood sugar is impacted by just about everything, including emotions, sleep patterns, stress, illness, physical activity, and eating habits. All these aspects of our lives are habit-driven, and hypnosis is one of the most efficient and effective tools for changing habits.
Your mind and body are complicated and have many different moving parts with many different needs. The best and most beneficial treatment involves combining different methods. In the same way that combining diet and exercise is more effective when losing weight, adding hypnosis to your diabetic treatment plan can make all of your interventions more effective.
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.
We encourage people with diabetes and their loved ones to learn as much as possible about the latest medical therapies and approaches, as well as healthy lifestyle choices. This, plus good communication with a team of experts, can help you feel in control and better able to respond to changing needs.
Making healthy choices and taking steps to manage your diabetes can mean the difference between living with diabetes and thriving. It's time to thrive by finding a balance of nutrition, physical activity and mental health management.∎
Karen Gray is a Certified Professional Hypnotist, a Certified Hypnosis Instructor, a Registered Nurse, and the Director of Green Mountain Hypnosis. For more information on how you can use hypnosis to change your life, click the link below