Study: Diabetes a Depressing Diagnosis

Michael Weiss, 60, has had the misfortune of being diagnosed with two very difficult diseases in his lifetime -- colon cancer and diabetes.

Weiss was first diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 34. Since then, he has spent much time and energy trying to control his blood sugar levels.

"My diabetes treatment required matching prescribed levels of insulin to the foods that I'm eating, to the activity level I'm encountering, and also it requires constant monitoring and being in touch with your body," Weiss explained.

But when Weiss underwent treatment for colon cancer three years ago, he found the experience to be far less emotionally devastating.

"All I had to do was find the best health care professional I could and subject myself to his judgment and abilities. I just laid there," he said. "And I was lucky that my physician was right -- my cancer was cured.

"But no matter how hard or how long I struggle with my diabetes, nothing is going to cure it, and the burden is mine and mine alone."

Weiss, a former president of the American Diabetes Association, says he has been amazed at the number of diabetes patients he's encountered who have echoed his own opinion that battling diabetes took far more of an emotional toll than battling cancer.

"A very large majority of these [diabetes patients] would confess to me that they were angry that they had the illness thrust on them, that they were frightened about the unknown and also the possibility of complications, and that they were frustrated over the additional responsibility when sometimes -- despite their best efforts -- they don't achieve results they intended," Weiss explained.

"A lot of people I met with diabetes feel this anger, fear and frustration, and feel very much alone with their illness. I experienced the same feelings," he added.

These feelings of anger, fear and frustration do not seem to be uncommon among diabetes patients. And new research finds that people who are treated for type 2 diabetes appear to be more likely to have depressive symptoms.

Diabetes a Depressing Diagnosis

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association on Tuesday suggests that people who are treated for diabetes have a 52 percent increase in their risk for depression compared to those without diabetes. Moreover, the researchers did not find the same link between diabetes and depression for diabetes patients who were not treating their disease -- they found that these patients who are not treated for their diabetes are not more likely to have depressive symptoms.

"One of the reasons we did the study is many studies have shown an association between diabetes and depression, and we know that people with diabetes are about twice as likely to have depression," said lead study investigator Dr. Sherita Golden, chairperson of the Glucose Control Task Force and director of the Inpatient Diabetes Management Service at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

The researchers from Johns Hopkins University wrote in their article that the stress of treating diabetes may trigger depression.

According to many diabetes experts, the link between diabetes treatment and depression is an understandable one.

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