Diabetes shown to increase the risk of common mental health condition

Type 2 diabetes: Doctor explains impacts of the condition

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Analysing data from 230,932 NHS patients, the University of Melbourne researchers discovered that type 2 diabetes is associated with an increased risk of depression. Of the 230,932 patients, 43 percent had depression.

Furthermore, the association was most commonly found in younger adults with the condition rather than those in older age groups

The reason for this, say the authors, is because the highest growth for diabetes patients is occurring in those in their twenties and thirties. Diabetics under the age of 40 were 50 percent more likely to develop the condition than diabetics over the age of 50.

Lead author of the study, Professor Sanjoy Paul said: “Our findings clearly highlight the mental health implications of developing type 2 diabetes at a young age and the importance of efforts to prevent diabetes early in life.”

NHS data suggests around 122,780 people in the UK under the age of 40 have depression, if 43 percent of these patients develop diabetes in the next five years this means around 52,795 people could be diagnosed with depression.

Although the number of people with depression may rise, Professor Paul said this may not entirely be down to diabetes, and that other factors may have an influence such as obesity and smoking.

Nevertheless, Diabetes UK’s Dr Faye Riley said the “psychological impact of living with this condition is often overlooked”, highlighting how it can be difficult for someone with the condition to manage to live an ordinary life.

When someone is diagnosed with either form of diabetes, it fundamentally changes how they have to live as they realise each day is a dietary tightrope, one they must balance and manage.

Dr Riley added: “Many people with type 2 diabetes experience mental health issues, and this study reveals that depression in people with the condition is common, and rising. This study also indicates that younger people with type 2 diabetes, who often experience a more severe form of the condition, have a greater risk of developing depression compared to those diagnosed later in life.”

Furthermore, Dr Riley said the research should “serve as a reminder to that healthcare professionals should be alert to the symptoms of depression in people with type 2 diabetes, particularly in those diagnosed at a younger age”.

Depression can present with a range of symptoms beyond those psychological; it is not merely a case of feeling sad or depressed for a prolonged period.

Furthermore, other studies have also found depression can be caused by physiological changes such as the use of steroids.

These steroids are not those one might find used by over-zealous gym goers, but ones found in everyday medicinal products such as asthma inhalers and skin creams; a study published in the BMJ found they could explain anxiety and depression.

The research in question was published in the journal BMJ Open and found that prolonged use of a type of steroid known as glucocorticoids could change the shape of the brain.

What are the main symptoms of depression?

The symptoms of depression are varied and can affect each mind differently. Physical symptoms of the condition include:
• Moving or speaking slower than usual
• Changes in appetite or weight
• Constipation
• Unexplained aches and pains
• Lack of energy
• Low sex drive
• Changes to the menstrual cycle
• Disturbed sleep.

Symptoms of depression may also be present in how the person acts in their social lives, they may:
• Avoid contact with friends or take part in fewer social activities
• Neglect their hobbies and interests
• Have difficulties in their home, work, or family life.

For the most part, symptoms of depression are psychological and vary in their severity; the common is the most well-known, a continuous period of low mood and sadness or feelings of hopelessness.

While depression can be incredibly difficult, there are support groups across the country which can support you through difficult times. The charity MIND, has a search portal that enables a local support group to be found should support be required.

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