Diabetes and Depression

I’ve previously mentioned in the comments that I have diabetes, and everyone knows that I suffer with depression (although fortunately I’ve been better lately with only a few dark spots). What you may not know is that the two are related. The rates of depression among diabetics is more than double the normal rate. Diabetics are also more prone to suicide. Approximately 95% of hospitalizations for hypoglycemia are due to either suicide attempts or self-harm.

I had actually planned on killing myself through a fatal insulin overdose at one time. Turns out the success rate is pretty low and many survivors have permanent brain damage. (I actually wrote a story about it where the protagonist tries to kill himself but fails only to succeed via another method. Yeah, it’s dark, but that’s where I was at the time)

My mom had a boss who was diabetic. One day after work, he got in his car and started driving down the highway in the opposite direction of home. At some point he passed out from hypoglycemia and had a fatal accident. Looking back, I’m fairly confident it was not accidental.

Anyway, the point is that diabetes is linked to depression and suicide attempts. What I didn’t know is that diabetes is also linked to bipolar disorder and possibly other mental health issues.

The thinking has evolved on this too, as explained in Psychiatry Today (sorry, free registration required). It was originally assumed that the link was caused by the stress of having a chronic illness, but it’s now looking like the real culprit is changes in brain chemistry caused by hyperglycemia (high blood sugar). According to this article from the ADA, hyperglycemia, not diabetic self care or the lack thereof, is the root cause of the problems.

It’s really not that surprising. Two of the biggest symptoms of hyperglycemia are lethargy and drowsiness. Those also happen to be two big physical symptoms of depression. I know from my own personal experience that I tend to be more prone to bouts of depression when my blood sugar is high. I can’t say for sure what’s going on, but when I physically feel depressed, the emotional depression follows pretty easily and things can get pretty dark from there.

The nasty thing is that depression causes people to not take care of their diabetes, so it becomes a cycle. I read several articles that advocated for antidepressants as a way to improve diabetic control. It makes sense to me and it’s something I would like to talk to my doctor about. When you feel like life isn’t worth living, then why would  you take care of yourself, right? Well, hopefully antidepressants will help people give a crap about life and taking care of themselves.

We’ll see. It would be nice to feel like taking care of myself wasn’t a pointless exercise in futility. I know it isn’t, but there’s a difference between knowing and feeling.


About Anonyman

Recovering adulterer and husband of an awesome wife who has given me a second chance. Sinner and Christian, saved by grace alone. I cuss a lot
This entry was posted in Suicide, Teh Crazy and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Diabetes and Depression

  1. Thanks for sharing this, I’m also diabetic, and when in a depressive state I did tend to feel a lot worse, but never thought of the correlation if the two.


    • Anonyman says:

      I’d like to claim credit for the insight, but it was actually my wife who pointed it out. I have plenty of other things to be depressed about, I don’t need my freaking disease making it worse though.

      By the way, thanks for stopping by. Hang in there. We’ll cure the ‘beetus yet!


      • I was of Metformin because I lost the surplus weight, and the other drugs interfered with it, so as you can imagine, it was not good, but as the weight is creeping back, the diabetic symptoms are coming back…..so here we go again.


  2. 15gen says:

    Wow! I find this very interesting! My grandmother was insulin dependant (pump), and my aunt and cousin currently are on pumps as well.
    At one time I was diagnosed with hypoglycemia.
    I’ve wondered lately if I’m becoming depressed. Now I wonder if the two are related!
    Thanks for this helpful post!


    • Anonyman says:

      You’re welcome! There’s an easy way to tell if you are getting diabetes. Ask your doctor for a Hemoglobin A1C test. That will tell you in about 5 minutes yes or no. For your sake I hope you don’t. So if your grandmother, aunt, and nephew are Type I, was it late onset? It’s not unheard of, but it’s a little unusual.


  3. Let go says:

    My husband also has diabetes. Both of us have to be dedicated to keeping his sugar as close to normal as possible. He also has low grade depression. One does feed off the other but by being diligent he is controlling both. You need your wife’s help with these two because they are family illnesses. Hope things go well with you and that instead of paying attention to the wolf you put on some ear buds and listen to Pharrell singing about happiness.


  4. DJ says:

    Interesting – I have diabetes, too, but I did not suffer from depression until after discovering my husband’s affair. For a long while afterwards, I had difficulty controlling the diabetes. I also suffered severe depression. I am now on a fitness craze and doing great health wise. The depression is less severe and less frequent, too.


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