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.