Maintaining sound mental health can be difficult if you live with diabetes, and many people know that diabetes and depression are comorbidities. The stressors of managing a chronic condition put you at higher risk for depression, and depression can put one at higher risk for type 2 diabetes. Scientists are still not completely sure why there’s such a strong link between the two conditions, but some studies have shown that diabetes doubles your risk of depression.
In part three of our four-part series on living well with type 2 diabetes, we’re focusing on emotional wellbeing and working to prevent depression while living with diabetes. If you’re newly diagnosed with diabetes and you’re worried about your risk for depression, check out our top ways to help prevent the onset of depression:
Find Your Tribe
Diabetes can be isolating and lonely, and finding a community that understands can make all the difference. Local support groups (in-person and online) can offer advice, encouragement, and assistance as you navigate the waters of your condition. If a support group isn’t for you, speaking honestly about what you’re going through with family or friends can be helpful as well.
Instead of wallowing the loss of foods you should no longer eat, or missed opportunities you may experience, use this time to be proactive about your health. Take a cooking class to learn how to integrate more vegetables into your diet, or sign up for a yoga class or fitness challenge to jump-start your journey to health. Journaling about your feelings is helpful, and meditation can help calm an anxious mind. Filling your time with positive activities can help stave off depression and improve your blood sugars at the same time. A win-win!
Get Enough Sleep
Your mind and body need adequate sleep to rest, recover, and replenish cells nightly. Chronic sleep deprivation is harmful to both physical and mental health. Create a nightly routine, and aim to get to sleep at a predictable (and reasonable) time each night. You’ll be surprised by how rejuvenated you’ll feel after consistent, good sleep.
No one likes to live in deprivation all the time. When you meet a goal (for example, exercising 150 minutes per week, or losing 10 lbs), treat yourself. Maybe it’s movie tickets for this weekend’s show, or sleeping in on a Saturday while your spouse handles the dog and kids. Creating healthy rewards for progress not only improves your diabetes management, but triggers the “feel good” chemicals in the brain (dopamine and serotonin), so you don’t feel like your diabetes management is just constant work with no celebration.
Talk with Your Doctor
If your symptoms of depression are not improving, you need to speak with your doctor about treatment options. They may refer you to a therapist, or may prescribe medication to help manage your condition. There is no shame in seeking help to manage depressive symptoms!
How have you navigated the close relationship between diabetes and depression? What tactics have helped you to improve your mental wellbeing and live a healthier life? Share this post and comment below!
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