November is National Diabetes Awareness month

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As the holidays approach, and the season’s expectations and demands draw near as well as these interesting times, it is not uncommon for some, especially older adults, to catch a case of the “holiday blues.” But it’s important to know when it’s more than just the “blues” and how other conditions, like diabetes, can be linked with depression.

November is National Diabetes Awareness month, an ideal opportunity for seniors and others to learn how diabetes and depression can go hand in hand.

  • Diabetes is a condition that affects nearly 34.2 million Americans.
  • According to the Utah Dept. of Public Health, more than 150,000 Utahns have Diabetes.
  • It is one of the leading causes of heart disease.
  • Diabetes is prevalent among senior adults.
  • Seniors are also more susceptible to depression because of increased loneliness. Unfortunately, when depression co-occurs with another illness, such as diabetes, it can often go unnoticed.
  • Research also shows that depressed adults have a 37 percent increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Diabetes is a chronic (long-lasting) health condition that affects how your body turns food into energy – or sugar (also called glucose). When blood sugar goes up, it signals your pancreas to release insulin. Insulin is a key to letting the blood sugar into your body’s cells for use as energy. Those with diabetes either don’t make enough insulin or may make too much. Over time this can cause serious health problems – heart disease, vision loss, kidney disease, stroke, among other health issues.

Besides Gestational diabetes which can be seen in pregnant women, there are type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

  • Type 1 – Is thought to be an autoimmune reaction that stops your body from making insulin.
  • Primarily of concern to adults is Type 2 and Prediabetes
  • Type 2 – Your body doesn’t use insulin well and can’t keep blood sugar at normal levels.
  • About 90-95 percent of people with diabetes have type 2.

Risk factors include:

  • Being overweight
  • Having a family history
  • Being physically inactive
  • Being 45 or older

Type 2 can be prevented or delayed with healthy lifestyle choices – losing weight, eating healthy foods, being active.

Prediabetes – More than 1 in 3 adults have prediabetes (approx. 88 million Americans according to the CDC) which if left unchecked can lead to Type 2. However, a healthy lifestyle change program can help reverse it.

According to the Center for Disease Control, people with diabetes are two to three times more likely to have depression that people without diabetes. In addition, the chances of becoming depressed increases as diabetes complications worsen.

Only 25% to 50% of people with diabetes who have depression get diagnosed and treated. Untreated mental health issues can make diabetes worse, and problems with diabetes can make mental health issues worse.

These depression symptoms may affect how diabetes patients manage their condition.

  • Low Motivation. Depressed people may lack the motivation to properly manage their diabetes.
  • Fatigue. Depression often leads to fatigue, which leads to lack of exercise – an important part of diabetes management.
  • Feelings of hopelessness and helplessness can lead to “giving up” on necessary diabetes treatment.
  • Changes in appetite. You eat more or less than you used to, which can lead to unstable glucose levels that can be either too high or too low.
  • Poor Stress Management. Ongoing anxiety or stress can increase cortisol levels, which complicate management of glucose levels.

Talk to your healthcare professional about diabetes and also links between diabetes and depression and take the necessary steps toward a healthier lifestyle.

Questions? Call 1-866-637-5268 for more information or TTY 711

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