Diabetes and Depression

Hey there. I’ve been T1 for almost a year now, and at first I was doing very well, my A1C was close to 6, and now it’s at 13. My endo says he’s seen a change in my behavior (I am anxious and emotional when I come to see him) and he’s prescribed me an antidepressant. Is anyone else taking a mood-altering medication? Has it helped? I just can’t bring myself to test, or take my insulin. I feel so hopeless, and I cry a lot. And then the next minute I am so ashamed for having such a big pity party- my moods are crazy. Is it really depression, or is it from my crazy sugar levels lately? Have antidepressants helped anyone manage better control?

Why can’t you bring yourself to test or use insulin? Have you thought about seeing a therapist?

Sounds like depression to me. Maybe in addition to the meds you should see a counselor or therapist? Meds can help a lot but they need to be taken exactly as directed and tweaked if they are not working. If things get worse or don’t improve you might want to ask to see a psychiatrist who is an expert in medical approaches to treating depression. There are other things besides medication that psychiatrists can do too. . You won’t always feel this way, things do get better Hang in there. Maybe ask for help from family or friends to help get you to check your BS.

Don’t be ashamed, you are just human. Shame is just part of the illness…depression that is. Also diabetes too now that I come to think of it:)

Also, maybe get your thyroid checked. Low thyroid can cause symptoms of depression. And diabetes and thyroid issues go together.

hey Sara, I’m sure you feel like **** a lot of the time, not just from being depressed, but the high blood sugars. I was just thinking back to another member who posted similar feelings in this discussion, and all the helpful members who came forward to post.


feel free to add to this discussion if you find it helpful. I think it would be helpful to many if we brought it back into circulation.

Hiya Sara,
I was diagnosed just under six months ago now, and I can completely relate to the anxiety and emotions that you have mentioned. My doctor suggested that I go on antidepressants and anti anxiety meds, as my levels were uncontrollable, due to having such a highly demanding and stressful course (Teacher training) Lack of sleep, bad eating habits and patterns, lack of exercise also all played a part. But I only see that now, since taking some time away from my studies. So after much thought I declined the meds and realised that I just needed some time to prioritise my health and see if I could get through without it. Please dont think that I’m suggesting you dont take the meds if you think they will help. Everyone is different. I just know that for me, I am doing so much better now that I decided to take some time away from my course, and start over again in september. Of course I still feel anxiety and have bad days, but give yourself some time. As my doctor says, give yourself a break! In regards to your A1C, it’ll come down. It’s been 6 before, so why should it not be again?! I’m currently 7.4 and I’m pleased with that for now. So sorry if this doesn’t directly answer your q, but I found that seeing what the real issue was- for me, stress/anxiety of the course, being away from my support network (family) etc. helped dramatically. I really hope you feel better soon. We’re all here to support you, I know I’ve felt much better about myself and diabetes in general since finding this community : )

Having BG all over the map doesn’t help mood. It’s a chicken & egg situation. When I’m low, instant depression. When I’m high, instant crankiness & impatience. Though I’ve had bouts of deep doom & gloom, antidepressants come with their own bag of tricks. A good therapist can help & sometimes it takes shopping around to find one you feel comfortable with.

To echo kestrel’s question, can you pinpoint a reason for not testing? Do you get anxious about it being high? Do you get angry/upset if it is? Is your anxiety around your doc because you feel you aren’t doing well enough? If so, then I think it’s important to establish in your mind that being high is OK but that treating it is important. And you can’t treat it if you don’t know what it is. I know that this sounds ridiculously simple and corny, but I think what you’re feeling is a very common issue among diabetics as their control begins to slip. I know that I went through similar emotions as I grew into it, but maybe not as acute as what you’re experiencing. Once you have enough testing, you and your doc can make a small change or two, and the build on that. Once you see some positive results (instead of the negative ones), hopefully it will give you renewed motivation. It’s not easy, that’s for sure.

I can’t say whether anti-depressants or therapy are the best solution. Do you have any D friends? Any support groups in your area? Talking to other D’s is hugely therapeutic. Like so many other conditions, it’s really hard for anybody to understand what we deal with 24/7, even the pros.

That post sounds just like how I’ve been for the past 6 months.

I want to pretend it isn’t there. I know that I shouldn’t do that, but I think “well I’m still young, complications won’t happen for a long time, so I can eat this bag of doritos”. And before you know it I just eat whatever I want. And then I don’t want to test because I know it’s going to be terrible. When my A1C first started going up me endo truly did not make it seem like a big deal, he said “these things happen, you will go through phases where your control slips”. I feel like complications are going to happen regardless of what you do, and tight control only prolongs the inevitable. It’s a hopeless thing. When I calm down I realize these are all bad thoughts.

you’re right. why should it not be 6 again? but for every moment i think that there’s one where i want to scream and punch diabetes in the face.

Chips…yummy. I was 21 when I was diagnosed and I ended up in therapy after my boyfriend at the time dumped me (yes, because of the diabetes) and one of my best friends started avoiding me (thanks for the support!). It’s was HUGE adjustment being diagnosed with diabetes and for a girl who had a chocolate bar a day habit and could eat anything and everything I wanted without gaining an ounce, it was traumatic.

Therapy, along with an awesome endo and an incredible diabetic day clinic helped me come to terms with my diagnosis and take charge of my diabetes instead of it controlling me. Talking to a professional (some Diabetic Educators are also psychologist) about everything you are feeling is far more effective that just taking pills. I apologize but I personally hate how antidepressants are thrown around like the cure all and therapy isn’t included with the script. This was 17 years ago and I think I’ve done pretty well in making diabetes a part of my life. There will always be ups and downs as with any chronic condition but having the tools to pick yourself up makes the downs fewer and far between.

Oh, and I’m a Ketchup chip fiend so I just learned how to inject more frequently when I want to be naughty and just stuff my face…lol. Good luck and it will get easier.

I couldn’t believe when he was like “i will prescribe antidepressants for you” o.O i was like “w-wait, you can do that? you’re just a diabetes doctor”. Blew my mind.

It’s actually more common than you think. Antidepressants can be prescribed by any medical doctor, guess it’s cheaper than referring someone to a psychologist. I would encourage you to see a psychologist before you start the antidepressants and if they advise you to take them then they are qualified to tell you to do so. I hate when docs think they know everything!!!

I just wanted to say I had the same problems. Im HBA1C was at a 13.7 at one point, I was very moody, isolated, tired just terrible. This was all because of the Constant high Blood Glucose levels. after I worked on improveing my BG levels everything went away! the depression and everything! High BG can effect the mind greatly. I never took antidepressants, what really helped was almost not making it one day when I was rushed to the hospital!!! Yikes!!! very scary. Try getting an insulin pump. it helps alot.

I have suffered from major clinical depression almost all of my life. Diabetes didn’t make it any better. I am on an anti-depressant, but they are NOT “happy pills” as someone disparagingly called them. For me, all they do is quell the suicidal thoughts that take over my mind 24/7 when I am not on them.

The best thing I think you can do right now is see a psychologist who can help you get to the root of WHY and what exactly you are feeling. Diabetes is a major life-stressor, and in the beginning, you were probably numb, but now the feelings are coming roaring to life. You probably have a lot of mixed feelings, and they are apparently so strong as to interfere with your diabetes management. I have been through periods like that before, and they are no fun. I go to a psychologist, and he’s a good one. He doesn’t know much about diabetes, so I have to spend part of the time educating him, but he’s an expert on feelings and stressors, and figuring out ways to deal with negative feelings.

Your pity party is part of the mourning process – you are grieving the lost healthy you, which you thought would last forever. It’s OK to mourn, but not OK to neglect your self-care. I know the feeling of “damn, I need to put in a new set because my set just fell out, but I’m going to wait till morning!” which is not a good idea, and “it’s just too much of a hassle to test!” which is also not a good idea.

After my last rebellion/major depression incident, I landed in the hospital in a coma. I would have died if my friends hadn’t come looking for me after I didn’t show up for a picnic. After I got my fried brain back in shape, I made myself the promise that whatever else I do or don’t do, I WILL check my BGs and bolus for meals and snacks. I might not sweep the floor, or make my bed, but I WILL take care of my diabetes. Sometimes it’s hard, because I REALLY don’t want to do it, but I promised myself. It’s priority number one (along with feeding and watering and cleaning up after my cats!) If I really want to procrastinate, I’ll find something else to procrastinate, and if I’m feeling lazy, I’ll find something else NOT to do, but diabetes gives me no choice. Period. I can change an infusion set, and HATE it the whole time I’m doing it, but I do it.

In some ways, it boils down to self-discipline, regardless of how you are feeling. It doesn’t matter if the depression is from high BGs or stages in the grief process or whatever; what matters is that you take care of yourself regardless of how you’re feeling.

Please keep us posted on how you’re doing!

Depression s*cks. And unfortunately as everyone has pointed out Diabetes and Depression go hand in hand. We all would like to help you. I do think that being depressed can lead you to stop doing key things like managing your blood sugar and exercising. I think most of us have had that happen at one time or another, but you seem in a real funk. And when we have bad blood sugars and don’t exercise that can really make the depression worse.

I’d like to suggest that you take some specific steps to break that cycle. Sometimes it an help by just making a list of specific things you need to do each day and just doing them. Don’t think about them, just do them.

Get a piece of paper, and write down some specific things you need to do, each test during the day, all the insulin injections you must take, and then as a final item, write exercise for 15 minutes. This is your mandatory list. If you want to add things like eat dinner, or go to work, fine. You have to do these things. You need to look at the list and make yourself an automaton. You just do it. No feelings. No lamenting your life. No hesitation. Just do it.

You will get used to this, you may walk through the day like a zombie, but it will get better. Then you will find you can add to the list and then one day you will wake up and the sun will shine in your window.

You can do this. Sometimes we get into such a deep dark pit of despair it seems impossible to get out. But in fact, if we just take simple steps, over time we will find we can climb out. I know you can do this, you aren’t alone.

stay away from EFFEXOR!! I took it for 5 months and it almost killed me, my central nervous system had some kind of weird reaction to the drug, and I had to be rush to emergency over six times because my legs stopped working and I was in incredible pain. There are multiple lawsuits against Effexor right now and the drug is actaully in the process of being pulled off the shelves in canada.

I was put on an anti-depressant within a month of being diagnosed ( I was 14 ) and it help me alot. I was very suicidal, and I know for a fact that if I had not been put on the anti-depressants I would have at some point killed myself. The trouble is that It took me over six years to get off of them, they are addicting. I went through withdrawl symptoms and everything. It was horrible, but after being on them for so long it was no longer my body being depressed,but the pills making me depressed. Your doctors readyness to put you on a drug as opposed to trying to deal with the root of the problem, worries me. I had a doctor that constantly wanted me to try new drugs even though I did not really need them. I best advise I can give you to deal with depression is this:

1.Wake up and shower EVERY day (this may sound weird but it helps trust me)
2.Create a rountine ( including a diabetes routine, keeping you sugar in check helps manage the moods)
3.If your doctor gives you a perscription go home and google it before you take the first dose, it is your decision what you put in your body, not you doctors use you gut instincts!
4.MOVE! the more active you are the more balanced the chemicals in your brain become, this inbalance is what caused deppresion in the first place.
5.Stay away from junk food, trust me, gaining weight does not make you feel any better.
6. TALK! find someone to confide in, even the small insignifigant thoughts mean something. Even if you have to pay this person they will be a vital aspect of your recovery.
7. GO OUTSIDE. isolating yourself will only hurt you and make you feel worse. It is amazing what breathing fresh air can do to elevate your moods, combine the outdoors with exercise to multiply this affect.
8. GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK! when depressed you are your own worst enemy, think of it this way, when you think a negative thought about your self, think would you put up with someone else saying that to you? probably not.

and finally 9. Do not let your body win. You have worked your ■■■ of to care for your health so far, why let another disease destroy you from the inside out. This disease is NOT just in your head, you are not throwing yourself a pity party, and you are worthy of living a full, happy and healthy life. Pulling yourself out of a depression is WORK, hard work, but it is by no means impossible.

Please keep us updated on your progress, depression is a very common occurance in the diabetes world, and you are not alone. Good luck : )

Not so much that it’s cheaper but I think that therapy is much more of a committment, and one that many people don’t want to make. Also, taking the meds is a more passive approach and therapy is very active, the person has to be very involved and carry though on a regular basis To many people who are struggling with the basic elements of their day, this seems too hard.

Seems to me like your doctor raised an important (that you are depressed), one that he easily could have avoided or side-stepped, although it would not have been in your best interests to do so. Sounds to me like this is a doctor who has a “whole-person” approach to medicine, and that, IMO, is the best type to have.

Great post on positive steps, Rebecca!

sarasugar, lest you think depression to be an inevitable, inseparable component of diabetes… it isn’t necessarily so. Being young and diagnosed with a complicated disease is enough to throw anyone’s psyche out of whack. Take the time and opportunity to talk with a therapist to help sort out your thoughts and priorities – you’re being hit with a lot, at an age when you thought yourself to be invincible. Is there an element of shame to your feelings, having to test in front of friends – “coming out” as a diabetic?

Keep us informed, and post here as often as you need to. Lots of folks have been exactly where you are, so let them help you out. Remember, too, that it ain’t gonna happen overnight, rather, little by little. But a little progress is still better than none.