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Dr. Grabinski: not just your regular holiday blues — diabetes and depression often seen together

photo of a doctor discussing diabetes and depression
Dr. Erica Grabinski, above, is an internal medicine specialist with Optum – Arizona
By Dr. Erica Grabinski | Point of View

As the holidays approach, and the season’s expectations and demands draw near, it is not uncommon for some, especially older adults, to catch a case of the “holiday blues.”

But it’s important to know when it’s more than just the “blues” and how other conditions, like diabetes, can be linked with depression. November is National Diabetes Awareness month, an ideal opportunity to learn how diabetes and depression can go hand in hand.

Diabetes remains prevalent among older adults.

The American Diabetes Association reports that people with diabetes have a higher rate of depression than the general population. At the same time, older adults can also be more susceptible to depression because of increased loneliness associated with being socially isolated from others.

Unfortunately, when depression co-occurs with other illnesses, such as diabetes, it can often go unnoticed.

While depression affects everyone differently, recognizing its signs is a positive step toward managing your mental health right along with your physical health.

The National Institute of Mental Health notes that some of the common symptoms of depression to look out for include:

  • Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
  • Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
  • Feelings of irritability, frustration, or restlessness
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities
  • Decreased energy, fatigue, or feeling slowed down
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
  • Difficulty sleeping, waking early in the morning, or oversleeping
  • Changes in appetite or unplanned weight changes
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Optum Disclaimer: If you or someone you know have thoughts about suicide, seek help right away. If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, call 911 — or go to the closest emergency room.

To reach a trained crisis counselor, call or text the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988 or 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273- 8255). You may also chat at 988.lifeline.org.

If you experience any of these symptoms for two weeks or more or if your symptoms are severe, be sure to seek medical attention. There are multiple options for the treatment of depression, but for all of them, the sooner help is sought, the more effective the treatment.

The holidays can be a stressful time. When that stress isn’t managed properly, it can have damaging consequences on our health. Talk to your doctor to find out more about the links between diabetes and depression and take the necessary steps toward healthy living.

Editor’s note: Dr. Erica Grabinski is an internal medicine specialist with Optum – Arizona.

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