I have heard that depression is more common in people with diabetes. Is this true?
Yes, it is true that people with diabetes (and with other long-term illnesses) can experience higher rates of depression. This can be due to factors relating to the diabetes itself, or it can be unrelated. There is no convincing evidence that the actual blood sugar level itself is reliably predictive of mood, even in those with a tendency to depression. The severity of the diabetes and its complications, as well as its impact upon a person's lifestyle and aspirations, can be an important predictor of depression. For some the impact may be major and for others much less so, even though the degree of severity of the diabetes is the same. It is important to remember that the vast majority of people in our society with treated diabetes (more than 15 million in the United States alone) are able to adjust to the disorder and have happy, productive, and rewarding lives. Some have even achieved astonishing things in all walks of life. Examples include the gold medal winning Olympic swimmer Gary Hall, the NBA basketball player Adam Morrison, and the actresses Halle Berry and Mary Tyler Moore and Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, all of whom have lived with diabetes while achieving great success. If you are experiencing unusual degrees of sadness, reduced enthusiasm or interest in life, or excessive stress that you perceive is related to your diabetes, your doctor or certified diabetes educator may be able to help you to identify resources that can help you cope. Some of these resources are discussed in Question 82. Many certified diabetes educators (CDEs) are trained to provide such psychosocial support. If you are truly suffering from depression, your diabetes may or may not be an underlying cause, even though it may seem that way. Your doctor or CDE will help you to identify whether expert professional psychological or psychiatric consultation is needed.