Diabetes and Depression, A Study and a Solution
Frequent or prolonged bouts of depression are not uncommon among people who live with diabetes and its many challenges. A new study comments on this phenomenon while a solution is explained by someone who knows the disease intimately on several levels.
Two of the most common challenges faced by people who have diabetes are feeling alone and depression. Yet with more than 26 million Americans alone with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes, and 382 million around the world, you are not alone.
But that does not mean you cannot feel down, and indeed diabetes and depression often go hand-in-hand. Unfortunately, this combination can have a detrimental effect on both your physical and emotional well-being, especially since feelings of depression can have a negative effect on how well you follow management recommendations.
Diabetes, depression, and support study
In a new study conducted at the University of Kentucky, a research team evaluated the impact of depression on 201 individuals with type 2 diabetes. The participants completed a detailed survey that explored depressive symptoms, adherence to diabetes management recommendations, social support, personal characteristics, and self-efficacy.
The reviewers discovered that both social support and self-efficacy are helpful in overcoming depressive symptoms and adherence to disease management. They noted that “intervening to bolster self-efficacy and social support may decrease the negative effect of depression on adherence,” and better diabetes control makes for a better quality of life.
Support when you need it
That brings us to the topic of support. Sometimes people find it difficult to reach out or to connect with other people who share the diabetic experience. That’s where online support can be instrumental.
For Ginger Jeanne Vieira, Editorial Director of the online diabetes community called DiabetesDaily.com and who also is a diabetic, the support offered by online communities “is an invaluable thing and there’s no way that can be replaced by the medical community alone.” In fact, she went on to say that “Having access to your peers who know exactly what you’re going through is the most crucial and most undervalued form of support for long-term success in life with diabetes.”
In correspondence with Vieira, she pointed out that online communities are important because they can help individuals address issues their doctors don’t have time to discuss. Among the few example she offered were the chance to get information on how to find low carb meals in restaurants or what it is really like to wear an insulin pump or what it is really like to feel overwhelmed by managing diabetes every day.
What kind of support can online communities and forums provide? Vieira said she has watched people with diabetes “receive incredible support….From condolences to motivation to information and wisdom to simply being a listening ear.” Since the Internet is available 24/7, online support can be just a mouse click away.
“So many diabetics feel utterly alone until they see that there are so many more people out there going through what they’re going through,” says Vieira. Living with diabetes is a challenge, but opportunities for support to avoid depression and get on with your life are available.
International Diabetes Federation
Tovar E et al. Mediators of adherence among adults with comorbid diabetes and depression: the role of self-efficacy and social support. Journal of Health Psychology 2013 Dec 18. Epub ahead of print