Depression is sneaky and hard to detect, so pay attention to the subtle changes.
If you or a loved one are experiencing long bouts of sadness, increased feelings of loneliness, or spikes in anxiety levels or irritability, it could be an early sign of depression.
Be on the lookout for feelings, thoughts, and comments about hopelessness, death, and suicide. And seek help.
More Than A Bad Mood
People often equate depression with the feeling of sadness. Or maybe even apathy. But, it’s more than just that. Struggling with depression can take a toll on your daily functions and blood sugar levels.
Changes in ability to focus or make decisions can be an underlying trait of depression. As can losing interest in activities you love.
Other areas of life often impacted by depression include sleeping and eating. It’s important to be aware of changes in your normal patterns. Too little or too much sleep, as well as undereating and overeating can all be signs of a larger mental health issue.
Physical Effects of Depression
Even though depression is a mental illness, it has physical symptoms.
Feeling increasingly sluggish or fatigued is a sign that your body is experiencing mental turmoil. Similarly, those who struggle with depression often experience aches and pains — including headaches, cramps, and digestive issues.
What to Do
Now that you know what to look for, what do you do?
Depression — just like diabetes — is treatable. You can treat both at the same time. Ask your diabetes care team about a referral to a therapist or other ways to cope. You may find different types of therapy helpful:
Cognitive behavioral therapy helps you identify how your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors impact each other.
Dialectical behavioral therapy helps you regulate emotions and accept uncertainty.2
Family therapy helps parents and children learn to communicate better and work through conflicts.
Therapy and medication also work well together. When considering taking medication, talk to your healthcare providers about any family history of mental illnesses as well as your diabetes journey.
On your own, you can monitor your behavioral patterns, practice breathing techniques, and journal your thoughts, feelings and concerns.
Most importantly, you need to be aware of the signs and seek help when and if they appear.