Unfortunately depression is much more likely if you are living with diabetes. Symptoms of depression are common in people with diabetes compared with the general population and major depression is present in approximately 15% of people with diabetes according to the Canadian Diabetes Association. Although the connection is well established, the reasons for this connection are not entirely clear.
The good news is that researchers are very interested in understanding the psychological issues connected to diabetes. The DAWN2™ study was undertaken in 2011 in seventeen countries (including Canada) and looked specifically at the “Attitudes, Wishes and Needs” of those with diabetes. Dr. Michael Vallis, a Psychologist at Dalhousie University, points to recent research that has begun to study depression in diabetes in more detail and has identified the concept of diabetes distress. Diabetes distress is related to 4 areas: emotional burden, regimen distress, physician-related distress and interpersonal distress. He argues that “the frequency of encountering people with diabetes distress is much higher than the frequency of encountering people with depression.” ¹
While much research has and is being done establishing the relationship between diabetes, distress and depression, finding resources to deal with these problems is not easy. Your doctor needs to know what you are experiencing given that distress and depression can interfere with self-management. It is important to get help.
You may find it comforting to know that you are not alone. By joining one of the many on-line communities for people with diabetes or finding a support group in your local community you will see that people with diabetes want to share their advice and experience to help others.
You may prefer to seek professional help. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy is one of several effective treatments to help people overcome both diabetes related stress and depression. Counsellors like myself can help.
¹JDRF Canada jdrf.ca/adultswitht1d