8 Ways To Help Cope With Diabetes And Depression

Reviewed by Laura Angers, LPC

Published 06/22/2022

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Living with diabetes and depression may pose challenges when they affect your lifestyle and relationships with others. People with diabetes may be at greater risk of developing depression. People with depression are at risk for type 2 diabetes. Fortunately, these conditions can be treated together. It is essential to know what symptoms you have and how they affect your life to learn effective methods to manage them. Knowing ways to manage both help you live comfortably while being in control of your symptoms. To get an idea of what is best for your situation, consider the following tips:

Talk To Your Doctor

Understanding how to cope with both conditions may start by talking to your doctor. It may depend on the diagnosis you received first. Some get diagnosed with diabetes and develop symptoms of depression later, and vice versa. You may have started a treatment plan for one condition. If you developed the other's symptoms or received a new diagnosis, make sure your primary doctor and mental health specialist know both conditions. If your primary doctor diagnosed you with both, but you were referred to a mental health specialist to deal with depression, mention your health history so your specialist is aware.

Your doctor may provide tips and advice for a treatment plan. If you have a primary care doctor and a mental health specialist in your treatment, they will likely want to know the directions presented to you for treatment. Keep your appointments and follow through with your doctor’s instructions. Ask about treatment options for both conditions and what is recommended for your situation. If you are in doubt or have concerns about any symptoms, consult your primary doctor.

Avoid Being Hard On Yourself

It is common for people to be hard on themselves when dealing with depression, diabetes, or both. Some think they can pull themselves together and get over being sad. In some cases, it is not that easy. Depression has symptoms that can make daily living difficult. It is a serious condition that requires medical guidance from a doctor or mental health specialist. People may not feel comfortable talking to their doctor about their depression, but you can talk to someone, such as a family member or close friend, for support. You can also get help from support groups from peers dealing with diabetes and depression.

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People living with diabetic depression may find that some days are better than others. When your mood changes and lead to negative thoughts, it helps to have a plan in place. Consider who you can talk to when you need an emotional boost or when you want to get something off your chest. Talking about your feelings helps relieve negativity.

Learn How To Manage Stress And Anxiety

If you have stress or anxiety, it is essential to learn ways to control and stay on track with your treatment plan and keep your symptoms under control. Stress and anxiety could affect blood sugar levels and bring on depressive symptoms. Sometimes too much stress may lead to diabetes distress, including a mix of stress, anxiety, and depression symptoms. The symptoms may affect the quality of your life when they are not addressed.

Stress management techniques may help reduce or prevent high-stress levels. Such actions include doing activities to help you feel calm and relaxed. Examples include meditation, yoga, jogging, music, aromatherapy, and so on. There are digital apps available to provide motivation when practicing ways to relax. You can also contact your doctor for recommendations.

Make Lifestyle Improvements

Lifestyle improvements can make a difference for several reasons. They can encourage you to develop healthier habits to manage your symptoms. You’ll become more aware of what triggers your symptoms. People are more likely to follow their treatment plans when changes to living habits make things easier. Making changes includes reviewing your current practices and doing actions to keep your mental and physical health going in the right direction. Changes to your habits likely include trying new approaches and techniques to achieve results.

Establish a routine for sleeping and eating. When you eat, keep your meals manageable with regular portions. Consider ways to make snacks and mealtime healthy and interesting. Look into incorporating foods high in nutrients. Maintain a sleep schedule to get enough sleep. Try going to bed at the same time each night and consider a nighttime routine to help you settle down. A balanced diet and sleep schedule may help manage blood sugar levels for diabetes.

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Regular exercise is essential to help reduce stress, glucose levels, and boost your mood. Exercising a few days a week may also help lose weight or maintain a healthy weight. Check your blood sugar often, as recommended by your doctor. Some forms of exercise could cause blood sugar levels to fluctuate. Check your levels before and after exercise, and get advice from your doctor about types of exercise to practice.

Take your medication on time as prescribed. To get the most from your medication, take it on time daily. Also, make sure you check your blood sugar levels regularly. Sometimes blood sugar levels fluctuate and affect your mood. Consider self-management programs for diabetics. They include tips and advice on managing diabetes and how to set and accomplish goals.

When you make changes, give them time. Sometimes people expect change to happen too soon and get discouraged. Any changes you implement will take time to get used to before seeing results. Each day you stick to your goals by completing actions that help you make personal improvements while gaining a sense of accomplishment. Know your efforts will pay off toward improving your wellbeing.

Know who you can talk to when you feel discouraged. People that care about you will want to help you achieve your goals. There are diabetes depression support groups providing peer support when facing personal challenges of both conditions.

Engage In Talk Therapy

People with depression use therapy to deal with personal emotions while relieving their symptoms. Also known as psychotherapy, it is another effective method to manage your symptoms. Talking about your feelings helps you understand what causes them and helps you know how to manage them. People with depression may find interpersonal therapy or cognitive-behavioral therapy useful. The type of therapy you use depends on personal needs and goals. Your doctor or mental health specialist may recommend what is best for your needs.

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Talk therapy does many things when it comes to your mental and emotional health. You learn to recognize what triggers your emotional hurting. You learn how to replace unhealthy behaviors with viable solutions. You learn to acknowledge or identify unhealthy behaviors. You learn how to develop a positive relationship with others and yourself. You gain problem-solving skills that promote healthy actions. Depending on the severity of your depression symptoms, you may have a combination of medication, therapy, and self-help care. In some cases, an outpatient treatment program is necessary to help improve your symptoms.

Ask About Medication Options

Depression symptoms may benefit from medication. Sometimes it takes a while for the medication to start working. Medicines used for depression are known as antidepressants. They are used for depression and anxiety symptoms. Maintaining communication with your doctor is crucial. If you feel your medicine isn’t working or notice your symptoms are getting worse, contact your doctor. Talk to your doctor about side effects or any concerns you have. Also, mention any other medications you’re taking for a preexisting condition. Sometimes a medicine could interact with another, limiting its potential.

Establish A Definitive Treatment Plan

In many cases, creating a treatment plan designed to tackle both conditions provides better results. Depending on your symptoms, your doctor or mental health specialist may create a collaborative plan to improve both conditions. Some health care systems offer a special option that includes creating a plan to address symptoms simultaneously through a collaborative effort between different specialists.

Know When To See Your Doctor

When you have questions or concerns about your symptoms or treatment plan, contact your doctor as soon as possible. Continue taking your medication until you receive instruction from your doctor. If you have thoughts of self-harm or suicide, get emergency help services such as 911 immediately. Sometimes when a person experiences mood swings, it could be due to changes in blood sugar levels or a problem maintaining sugar control. If you experience side effects from your medication, contact your doctor.

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Understanding your options when you have diabetes and depression is significant in getting the help you need for symptoms. If you have diabetes, know what depression symptoms to look for and when to contact your doctor. Common symptoms of depression include lack of interest in activities, isolation, fatigue, feeling hopelessness, sadness, aches, and unexplained aches and pains. If you think you are depressed, get help. Getting treatment for depression includes recognizing symptoms when they occur. Your doctor will help determine the best course of treatment for symptoms, which may include a combination of therapy, medication, and self-care options.