Everyone feels sad every now and then. However, people with diabetes are twice as likely as others to become depressed, and it can be difficult to ask for help. But how can you tell when sadness has turned into depression? People who are depressed will experience at least five of the following symptoms for 2 weeks or more:
- Fatigue (loss of energy)
- Difficulty concentrating
- Feelings of guilt, sadness, or worthlessness
- Noticeable weight loss or gain
- Loss of appetite or binging on unhealthy foods
- Difficulty sleeping, or sleeping more than usual
- Loss of interest in activities
- Thoughts of hurting of killing oneself
People who are depressed might feel less motivated and eat an unhealthy diet or forget to check their blood glucose or take their medications. All of these factors can lead to potentially preventable complications from diabetes. If you have trouble controlling your blood glucose levels despite your best efforts at a healthy lifestyle, consider whether your mood might be contributing. If you are depressed, your health care provider can help. Speak up!
Before prescribing drugs, the health care provider might encourage a patient to exercise, improve their diet, and work with a therapist to discover new ways of approaching challenges they encounter.
If lifestyle changes aren’t enough to improve mood, several effective medicines are available. One commonly prescribed family of medications is known as “selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors,” or simply “SSRIs.” This family includes Citalopram, Paroxetine, Sertraline, and Fluoxetine.
Some patients feel discouraged and stop taking the medications when they don’t notice improvements after a couple of weeks. But it’s important to remember that these medicines normally take 4 to 6 weeks to affect the patient’s mood. Some drugs can upset the stomach, cause dry mouth, or worsen fatigue. Talk to your health care provider if this occurs; there are many options to treat depression.