Author's Perspective: I remember when my endocrinologist told me that I would eventually become depressed, so he recommended a pill. I think it was Prozac, but I told him No Thanks. 

Later that month, I went to a diabetic seminar, where the guest speaker said the same thing!: That people with diabetes eventually become depressed! But, instead of waiting for it to happen, I did some research into why this happens. It turns out that high blood glucose levels reduce the body's production of serotonin, the feel-good hormone and increase the production of cortisol, the stress hormone. And, this combination can led to depression.

So, it was pretty simple (to me): Keep my blood glucose in the normal range and not have to worry about being biochemically depressed ...

Depression and Diabetes

People with diabetes have an increased risk of developing depression. Due to the complexities of trying to manage one's diabetes, you can become overwhelmed, frustrated, and depressed. One of the reasons is due to less serotonin (a feel-good hormone) being produced because of the high insulin and blood glucose levels.

To make matters worse, being depressed can lead to poor eating habits and a sedentary lifestyle, which worsens the diabetes. This may create a vicious cycle where the diabetes and depression worsen over time.

Many diabetics (including the author) are warned by their physicians that they will eventually experience depression. Unfortunately, their solution is to add more drugs on top of the diabetic drugs.

Many diabetics who experience depression endure both problems with great courage and no hope in sight. Unfortunately they do not have the emotional support or knowledge that will enable them to overcome these problems.

Depression is a mental state characterized by a pessimistic sense of inadequacy and a despondent lack of activity.

Unfortunately, many diabetics experience depression for 3 reasons:

  1. The lack of knowledge in being able to effectively control blood glucose levels. This lack of knowledge about the unknown creates anxiety, fear, and stress,. If you feel overwhelmed and helpless, this can lead to depression.
  2. The lack of emotional support, and being overwhelmed by everything that a diabetic has to do to manage their diabetes every day – leads to stress and the lack of hope in fighting a disease that leads to amputation, blindness, and kidney dialysis. This can also create fear and anxiety, leading to poor sleep habits. In addition, the loss of a loved one can create an emotional upheaval that may lead to depression -- especially if the diabetic does not go through the 5 stages of grief.
  3. The biochemical/hormonal imbalances created by the excess production of cortisol, reduced production of serotonin, and nutritional deficiencies caused by the diabetes.

The good news is that most cases of diabetes and depression can be controlled and even defeated without the need for drugs by doing 3 things:

  1. Acquire the knowledge to effectively control your blood glucose levels and prevent or deal with the depression. This will reduce the anxiety, fear, and stress. Acquiring knowledge creates hope, which drives us to take action because we believe that we can do something.
  2. Obtain the emotional support, by utilizing your inner spirit and a support system of family members and friends to reduce stress, have hope and not feel overwhelmed; and, achieve a higher quality of sleep and relaxation.
  3. Change dietary and lifestyle to improve the biochemical/hormonal levels, increasing the production of serotonin and decreasing the production of cortisol while providing the necessary nutrients that the body needs to fight the diabetes and ensure proper blood glucose control.

What is Depression?

Depression is a mental health disorder that can affect the way you eat and sleep, the way you feel about yourself, and the way you think about things. A depressive disorder is more than a passing mood. It is not a sign of personal weakness, and it cannot be willed or wished away.

A depressive disorder involves the body, mood, and thoughts. People who are depressed cannot "snap out of it" and get better. Without treatment, symptoms can last for months or years. Treatments such as antidepressant medications and psychotherapy can reduce and sometimes eliminate the symptoms of depression.

Three of the most common forms of depressive disorders are:

  • Major Depression
  • Dysthymia
  • Bipolar Disorder

Even within these types of depression there are variations in the number of symptoms, their severity, and persistence.

Major Depression is manifested by a combination of symptoms (see symptom list below) that interfere with the ability to work, study, sleep, eat, and enjoy once pleasurable activities. Some people have a single episode of depression, but many have episodes that recur.

Dysthymia is a less severe type of depression that lasts a long time but involves less severe symptoms. If you suffer from dysthymia you probably lead a normal life, but you may not be functioning well or feeling good. People with dysthymia may also experience major depressive episodes at some time in their lives.

Bipolar Disorder (also called manic-depression) is another type of depressive disorder. Bipolar disorder is thought to be less common than other depressive disorders. If you have bipolar disorder you are troubled by cycling mood swings - usually severe highs (mania) and lows (depression). The mood swings are sometimes dramatic and rapid, but usually are more gradual. When in the depressed stage, a person can have any or all of the symptoms of a depressive disorder. When in the manic stage, the individual may be overactive, over-talkative, and have a great deal of energy.

Mania affects thinking, judgment, and social behavior, sometimes in ways that cause serious problems and embarrassment. A person in a manic phase may feel elated, full of grand schemes that might range from unwise business decisions to romantic sprees. Mania, left untreated, may worsen to a psychotic state, where the person is out of touch with reality.

Alternative Strategies for Treating Depression

Key strategies for fighting and preventing depression include diet, exercise, socializing, having a hobby, etc.

Diet: Depression is a common symptom due to deficiencies in Omega-3 EFAs and folic acid. At least eight studies have shown that patients with depression have lower levels of Omega-3s and folic acid than other populations.

The worse the depression, the lower the levels of Omega-3s and folic acid in the blood. The most common problem is affective disorder (BMJ, 1980; 281: 1036-42).

Depressive illness has been shown to begin at the point where patients become deficient in folic acid (Biol Psychiatry, 1989; 25 (7): 867-72).

Though drugs are often considered the first line of treatment for depression, a dietary change might be all you need, says James Gordon, a psychiatrist who advocates non-drug approaches to depression.

Especially if you're fighting diabetes, you can "kill 2 birds with one stone" by eating various super foods such as wild salmon, green vegetables, dark fruits, chickpeas, walnuts and getting some sunlight (for Vitamin D).

Use raw juicing and green smoothies to get key nutrients into your cells faster to help fight inflammation and oxidation. 

In addition to eating more super foods, it may be even more important to avoid the refined, processed foods such as bread, pastries, fried foods, rice, coffee, fast foods, and alcohol.

Use nutritional supplementation to help fight depression, e.g. B-Complex vitamins, melatonin, Omega-3 EFAs, probiotics, SAM-e (S-adenosylmethionine), theanine (amino acid), turmeric, Vitamin D3.

Lifestyle changes such as getting quality sleep every night, exercising every day, doing volunteer work, meditation, prayer,and reducing the stress in your environment can also help with depression.

Cycle of Depression

One of the critical keys to defeating depression is to break the "cycle of depression" as depicted in the following diagram.

Cycle-of-Dpression-Death-to-Diabetes

In addition, you must ensure that you are not depressed because you didn't go through the 5 stages of grief after losing a loved one or going through a similar emotional event.

FYI: The 5 stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. (Refer to the Death to Diabetes Blog for more details).

Note: For more information about depression and how to defeat it (without drugs), refer to the Defeat Depression ebook or read the author's experience with depression (below).

Note: If you have an autoimmune disease, PCOS, or thyroid issues that may be associated with your depression, get the How to Treat Autoimmune Diseases, PCOS & Thyroid Issues Naturally ebook.

Depression and the Author

Many diabetics (including the author) are warned by their physicians that they will eventually experience depression. Unfortunately, their solution is to add more drugs on top of the diabetic drugs.

The very first seminar that the author attended after he got out of the hospital was about depression and diabetes. The keynote speaker at the seminar emphasized that every diabetic in the room (including the author) would eventually experience depression and that there was very little that could be done to stop it.

When the author went to see his endocrinologist, he recommended that the author see a psychiatrist to get the proper medication for his impending depression.

The following is a summary of the author’s perspective about depression and diabetes.

I was simply amazed at the number of doctors and experts that believed that I was going to eventually become depressed because of my near-death experience with the diabetic coma and almost losing both my legs.

My endocrinologist kept asking me: “Are you okay?” Do you feel okay?” Are you sure you’re okay? Would you like to talk to someone about your depression?”

I kept telling the doctor: “I’m fine. I’m okay. Really. I don’t need to see a psychiatrist.” I told him: “In fact, I feel great!”

My doctor was shocked. He said: “Why do you feel great?” You have diabetes. You almost died. You have to take insulin the rest of your life.”

And I said: “Doc, yes, I have diabetes, but I don’t plan to have it forever. Yes, I almost died – the key word here is almost. Yes, I take insulin, but I don’t plan to take it forever. And, I’m so happy and blessed to be alive!”

My doctor said: “DeWayne, you’re in denial. You need to face the reality that you have diabetes, you almost died, and you have to take insulin the rest of your life. And, don’t forget that because of the damage to your eyes and legs, you’re going to go blind, end up on kidney dialysis, and lose one or both of your legs. So, do you still feel happy and blessed?”

And I said, “Yes, I do feel happy and blessed! My mother says I’m a walking miracle. And, that God told her that He had plans for me – that’s why I didn’t die.”

My doctor said: “Please don’t take this the wrong way, but your mother is being overly-optimistic. She doesn’t understand the severity of your health issues.”

But, no matter what I said, my doctor kept encouraging me to see a psychiatrist!

When I returned to his office a few months later, and I told him that I was no longer taking insulin, he got upset with me. He was not happy that my health had improved. He said that I was in denial and that I would be back on insulin within 3 months.

Well, it’s been several years now, and the doctor is still waiting for me to go back on insulin. My blood sugar and A1C are in the normal ranges, and I don’t take any drugs.

When I reflect back on that time in my life, I realize that there was a Higher Power guiding me on my journey from near death, illness, and drugs to good health, wellness, and no drugs.

I also realized why so many people (not just diabetics) believe that they are depressed! Doctors and TV ads keep telling you that you’re not happy! So, you talk to your doctor, who is more than happy to give you his drugs. If you resist taking the drugs, your doctor will eventually convince you to “just give it a try.”

Why? Well, it’s definitely not to help you! It’s to make money! Lots and lots of money! And, once you start taking a drug, you end up taking a couple more drugs in a few years! And, guess what? You never get off the drugs! You become chemically-dependent on their drugs! You become a drug addict!!

And, now the doctors and drug companies are targeting young people to take their drugs! Why? Because young people have 50 to 70 years ahead of them. This 50 to 70 years for each young person createsf new revenue opportunities and new revenue streams for the drug companies !

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