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Diabetes And Depression: Warding Off The Sword Of Damocles

Being diagnosed with diabetes means it’s suddenly time to make lifestyle changes, which can feel like a loss. It’s normal to feel destabilized and experience negative feelings at first. But even beyond that initial shock, people living with diabetes are more likely to slip into depression.

Greater risk

Nearly 10% of people living with diabetes will experience major depression; around 30% will experience symptoms. That prevalence of depression is twice that found in populations without a chronic disease.

Risk factors for depression include improper blood glucose management and diabetes-related long-term complications. The risk also increases with the number of years spent living with diabetes, since eventually, having to manage every aspect of your life to cope with an incurable condition can start to weigh on you.

Note that other mental health problems, such as generalized anxiety disorder, are also highly prevalent among people living with diabetes.

Recognizing depression

Don’t get depression and feeling depressed confused! Everyone has negative thoughts once in a while, but not everyone will experience major depression. In the latter case, symptoms including those listed below persist for more than two weeks and disrupt the normal course of an individual’s life.

  • Despair or persistent feeling of emptiness
  • Loss of interest
  • Concentration or memory problems
  • Sleep disorders (insomnia or, conversely, constant drowsiness)
  • Appetite disorders; sudden weight loss or gain
  • Suicidal ideas

Depression doesn’t necessarily express itself as sadness, either. It can appear as a kind of torpor or lethargy, or on the other end of the spectrum, constant agitation.

Someone in this situation will not be able to simply “cheer up” or “fix their attitude”—depression doesn’t work that way! Consulting a healthcare professional who can diagnose depression can help you find the right treatment, which often involves antidepressant drugs and psychotherapy.


If a loved one is going through an episode of depression, lend them a non-judgmental ear. And if you’re experiencing those symptoms yourself, find a sympathetic ear of your own.

American Diabetes Association (n.d). Understanding diabetes and mental health. Retrieved from: Accessed May 4 2020.

Diabetes Québec (2014). Diabetes and Depression. Retrieved from: Accessed May 4 2020.

Diabetes Québec (2018). Generalized Anxiety and Diabetes. Retrieved from: Accessed May 4 2020. (2019). Diabetes and Depression. Retrieved from: Accessed May 4 2020.

Fédération Française des Diabétiques (n.d). Dépression et troubles psychologiques. Retrieved from: Accessed May 4 2020.

Folliard, T (2018). Luminothérapie. Retrieved from: Accessed May 6 2020.

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