Almost all the people that we know suffer from one chronic disease or the other. Be it diabetes, hypertension or cholesterol, people continue to make regular trips to the doctor and take medicines for these lifestyle-triggered diseases. When diagnosed with these and similar diseases, people make sure they take utmost care by providing themselves and their loved ones the best care possible.
What however many tend to overlook and choose not to address is the status of their mental health. It is alarming that many people with deteriorating mental health continue to suffer in silence, either as a choice or simply because they do not know that they are suffering from depression. Especially people who are diabetics suffer from depression and fight two battles at a time. The co-existence of depression and a chronic illness affects the overall well-being of a person, thus only worsening his health condition.
This World Mental Health day, Dr Sanjay Kalra, Consultant Endocrinologist – Bharti Hospital Karnal, Vice President – South Asian Federation of Endocrine Societies and Dr Sanju Gambhir, psychotherapist and counsellor associated with Jaipur Golden Hospital and Primus Super Speciality hospital, expounds more on how diabetics are more prone to depression.
Depression is known to adversely affect a person’s ability to manage their blood glucose levels. They suffer from poor metabolic and glycemic control, which intensifies their symptoms of depression. In the society, where talking about mental health is particularly stigmatised, people tend to not get their problems of depression addressed on time, said Dr Kalra. According to him, an increasing proportion of diabetics become prey to depression simply because they struggle to cope with the requirements of their illness, feeling overwhelmed and unmotivated. People mentally accept defeat and convince themselves that they will continue to suffer all throughout their lives, and are hence left feeling demotivated and depressed, said Dr Gambhir.
People with depression hence, should be examined for diabetes and vice-versa. Improper management of diabetes could manifest in the system as symptoms of depression. It is also likely that both diseases share the same risk factors, such as family history, obesity, hypertension, inactivity, and coronary artery disease, said Dr Kalra.
One out of three diabetics suffer from depression, said Dr Gambhir. She was of the opinion that mostly people do not identify that they are disturbed mentally and brush aside their condition as trivial. So they don’t even avail treatment for the mental health illness and rather focus on their physical health only. According to her, the mind plays an important role in triggering signs of depression in an already-suffering patient. Most times, people suffering from a chronic disease do not think positively and dissuade themselves from living a normal happy life, said Dr Gambhir.
Diabetes and other chronic ailments are known to require regular medication while depression doesn’t necessarily need all that. An understanding environment, care and nurture for oneself etc. play vital roles in combating depression.
Dr Kalra suggested some helpful tips to fight depression.
*Increasing your physical activity, it will likely make you feel better due to the release of endorphins in the brain, which has been proven to help alleviate depression symptoms.
*Avoid caffeine, recreational drugs and alcohol, and maintain a regulated sleep schedule.
*Increase your monitoring of blood glucose levels.
*Be more proactive about your management of diabetes and stay informed about your condition.
*Finally, seek additional support from family and friends and practice the virtue of patience.