Can diabetes affect mental health, and vice versa?

A metabolic condition characterized by increased blood sugar levels, affects the life of a diabetic patient in myriad ways. In addition to various physical effects, the condition can also lead to a number of mental and emotional disorders. So much so that compared to the general population, the prevalence of depression is three times higher in type 1 diabetics and twice as high in type 2 diabetics, Dr Venkatesh Babu GM, Consultant, Mental Health and Behavioral Sciences, Fortis Hospital, Bannerghatta Road, said. . Like, why and how exactly does diabetes affect a person’s mental health?

“Glucose is used by the brain for all of its processes, including memory, emotions, thoughts, and behavior. In addition to our skin, eyes, and feet, our brain also carries excessive amounts of glucose flowing through our bodies, Dr Gaurav Gupta, Senior Consultant, Psychiatrist and Mental Health Specialist, Tulsi Healthcare, Delhi said.

He explained that the discomfort caused by having diabetes is an emotional response to having the disease. “This occurs when a person feels overburdened by the continued self-management needs and potential long-term effects of diabetes,” he said.

Calling it “totally normal”, Dr Ravi Shankarji Kesari, General Physician, Apollo Spectra Hospital, Bangalore, said that a patient may feel frustrated, defeated or overwhelmed by diabetes. “It’s a little more common for people on insulin. It happens all day, every day because of the fear of complications and complications. If their feelings are there for a while and they’re not going away, there’s a diabetic crisis. can turn into depression.

Some other causes of mental distress in diabetics include dealing with “the financial concerns of diabetes, such as insurance and treatment costs, as well as the social impact or social isolation of the condition, such as stigma, discrimination, or other people’s unhelpful reactions or lack of understanding.” of,” shared Dr Gupta.

It is slightly more common for people on insulin (Source: Getty Images/Thinkstock)

For people with pre-existing mental health conditions, diabetes can make their depression or anxiety worse, according to Nivedita Gautam, BAMS, SR Institute of Advanced Ayurvedic Science. “Having diabetes can lead to a problematic condition called ‘diabetic crisis’ that shares some of the symptoms of depression, stress, and anxiety. People with diabetes are 2-3 times more likely to have depression than individuals without diabetes. Only 25 to 50 percent of people with diabetes who have depression are diagnosed and treated,” she said.

In particular, the converse is also true. “Having depression can increase the risk of diabetes by up to 60 percent,” Dr. Babu said.

How to deal with it?

According to Dr Kesari, the first step in managing a crisis is to understand that it happens to many people and not blame yourself. “Patients need to remember that sugar levels are just a number. They should try to let go of really high expectations on things like blood test results and set smaller, more realistic goals. They should be ‘good’ or ‘bad’ One should stop using phrases like sugar, and instead talk about high or low sugar. Patients should inform the treating doctor and seek his help,” he suggested.

According to Dr. Gupta, here are some other ways you can manage mental health when you are suffering from diabetes.

* Adopt a new healthy lifestyle.
* Eat a healthy and balanced diet to maintain your blood sugar level.
*Start doing exercises and yoga which can help reduce stress and improve your emotional state.
* Set achievable diabetes management goals and strive to achieve them.
Avoid taking too much stress on small things, try to be happy and be friendly.

Dr Babu further explained that the management of depression among diabetics includes “antidepressant medications, psychotherapy like cognitive behavioral therapy, supportive therapy, interpersonal therapy, relaxation techniques, mindfulness exercises, brain stimulation procedures like rTMS, etc.”

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