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Depression May Raise Low Blood Sugar Risk in Diabetics
Date:5/21/2013

therapist with a diabetes-focused practice in New York City, and a type 1 diabetic himself, agreed that "depression can affect a person's ability to manage their diabetes." But, he said there was an important piece of information missing from the study: how much diabetes education a person has had. People who've had more diabetes education would probably be less likely to have a severe hypoglycemic episode, LeBow suggested.

He also noted that high blood sugar symptoms can look a lot like depression symptoms. "Sometimes, when you make a few changes in how someone is managing their diabetes, their depression may lift," said LeBow.

Both experts agree that people with diabetes who are depressed need to get help. And, fortunately, there are treatments available -- psychotherapy and medications. Katon said there are depression medications that don't significantly affect blood sugar levels.

According to the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health, depression symptoms include:

  • Long-term sadness, anxiety or hopelessness.
  • Feelings of guilt and worthlessness.
  • A loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed.
  • Sleep and appetite changes.
  • Trouble remembering things.
  • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions.
  • Suicidal thoughts.

Although the study found an association between depression and greater risk of hypoglycemic episodes, it did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.

More information

Learn more about diabetes and depression from the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health.

SOURCES: Wayne Katon, M.D., professor, psychiatry, University of Washington Medical School, Seattle; Eliot LeBow, L.C.S.W., diabetes-focused private practice, New York City; May/June 2013, Annals of Family Medicine


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