People with diabetes are at increased risk for depression. In fact, studies show people with diabetes are twice as likely to experience depression compared to individuals without diabetes.
The cause of depression in people living with the disease is presently not known. “This is a complicated issue as clinical depression, and diabetes distress are very interwoven,” explains Nicole M. Bereolos, Ph.D., MPH, CDE, clinical psychologist, a certified diabetes educator in Dallas, TX.
Diabetes can have a profound impact on your mental and emotional well-being. Coping with the daily challenges that come with the disease can make you feel defeated, depressed, angry or sad. ?“There are many hassles in living with diabetes, and the symptoms can overlap with clinical depression.
With true clinical depression, the symptoms span across multiple settings and with diabetes distress, the symptoms are more focused on diabetes-specific behaviors,” says Bereolos. “The major signs [of depression] that I come across are not getting joy out of things that one did in the past, wanting to be left alone, low energy, changes in sleep patterns, and sadness for unknown reasons.”
If you’ve begun to have such feelings—especially if they’re lingering or deepening—you may want to see someone who can help you determine if it is diabetes distress or depression.
The good news is depression, and diabetes distress are treatable. Standard treatments for depression provided by a psychologist or psychiatrist includecognitive behavioral therapy—or talk therapy and antidepressant medications. A social worker can also help you deal with the impact your disease has on your moods and your family.
She can help you find resources to support your care and help you manage the practical aspects of living with diabetes. And new research shows that your diet may reduce your risk of depression and improve your mood.
Researchers at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago found eating a diet that emphasizes vegetables, fruit and whole grains may lead to a reduced risk of depression according to their recent study.
The study found that people whose diets adhered more closely to the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet were less likely to develop depression than people who did not closely follow the diet. In addition to fruit and vegetables, the DASH diet recommends fat-free or low-fat dairy products and limits foods that are high in saturated fats and sugar.
The researchers examined how closely the participants’ reported diets were to the DASH diet, Mediterranean diet and the traditional Western diet, which is high in saturated fats and red meats and low in fruits and vegetables. The study participants were categorized into three groups based on how closely they adhered to these diets.
Those who were in the two groups that followed the DASH diet more closely were 11 percent less likely todevelop depression than people in the group that did not follow the diet closely. Conversely, the researchers found that the more closely people followed a Western diet the more likely they were to develop depression.
The bottom line. More research is needed to confirm these results and to determine the best nutritional components of the DASH diet to prevent depression. However, while the jury is still out on whether or not DASH can prevent depression, there are many other good reasons to follow the DASH diet.
US News & World Report recently ranked DASH one of the best diets for diabetes. DASH is also one of several meal patterns identified by the American Diabetes Association (ADA) as having good results in helping to manage diabetes.
And there is a large body of scientific evidence showing that the DASH diet can lower blood pressure, LDL cholesterol—often referred to as bad cholesterol, and help with weight loss. DASH can also contribute to the prevention and control of diabetes. Click here to learn more about the DASH eating plan and get tips on how you can ease into the DASH-style of eating.
Remember, depression and diabetes distress are treatable. Click here for more information on depression and here to learn more about diabetes distress.