Diabetes and Depression
By Robert Seith
CWK Senior Producer
thats the best word I can think
-Keith Gonyea, 16-
| The routine never changes for 16-year-old Keith
Gonyea. He inserts the needle from the insulin pump, draws blood
10 times a day to check his blood-sugar levels and carefully
watches what he eats.
Its unbearable. Obviously, you have to, but its
hard, he says.
Still, Keiths eyesight continues to get worse, and he
has circulation problems in his feet.
Its just depressing
thats the best
word I can think of. Its hard, he says.
Keith suffers from diabetes burnout, which can lead to real
depression. According to studies published in the journal Diabetes
Care, kids with diabetes are three times more likely
to become depressed later in life.
They spend a lot of time worrying, and some of them get
preoccupied with the worries or the feeling different, or just
low or just frustrated that it just cant be easy,
says Paula Bryman, L.C.S.W.
Unintentionally, parents can make matters worse. If they only
focus on their childs disease, their child may begin to
think that the disease is the only
aspect of life about which his or her parents care.
A lot of the adolescents say to me, I come home,
and instead of my mom or dad saying to me, How was your
day, how are you? [they ask] What was your blood
sugar? And they feel like their whole identity is
about having diabetes, Bryman says.
According to Bryman, parents need to teach their diabetic child
and remind themselves that the disease is only
part of their childs life.
Keith teaches this message by working with younger kids at the
Juvenile Diabetes Foundation.
Most adolescents find it very empowering to help somebody,
Keith agrees: Just being around them and being able to
help them out
knowing people arent always going
to be around to help me out; I can help people out.
between Diabetes and Depression
By Tom Atwood
CWK Network, Inc.
a double-punch for those with diabetes. Along with the mental
anguish, blood glucose control often slips as well. But there
Magazine, a publication of the American Diabetes Association
The news that diabetics
are three to four times as likely to suffer depression is
not good for teens who discover they have diabetes. The American
Diabetes Association estimates that depression affects 15-20%
of those with diabetes, regardless of if they have type 1
or type 2 diabetes because depression affects both groups
Does diabetes cause depression? The ADA says that no one knows
for sure why depression is more common among those diagnosed
with diabetes. However, both mental and physical factors exist
that could aggravate depression for diabetics:
- The extra demands of the diabetes regimen itself may put
some people at greater risk for depression. (Adjusting to
dietary restrictions, blood-testing routines and hospitalizations
can be difficult.)
- For those whose diabetes has progressed, dealing with
the loss of vision, kidney failure, etc., can open the door
- Various physical changes associated with diabetes, including
chemical and blood-flow changes in the brain, may also be
The good news? Three recent
studies published in Psychological
Annals, Psychosomatic Medicine and Diabetes
show that depression in diabetic patients can be treated effectively
with either antidepressants or a specific form of psychotherapy
known as cognitive-behavioral therapy. The studies also found
that as depression eased, blood-glucose control improved.
What Parents Need to
At any given time, 5% of children suffer from depression.
Children with diabetes, as well as children under stress who
have experienced a loss or who suffer from other disorders,
are at a higher risk for depression. The American Academy
of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) lists the following
signs of depression:
- Frequent sadness, tearfulness or crying
- Decreased interest in activities or an inability to enjoy
previously favorite activities
- Persistent boredom and low energy
- Social isolation and poor communication
- Low self-esteem and guilt
- Extreme sensitivity to rejection or failure
- Increased irritability, anger or hostility
- Difficulty with relationships
- Frequent complaints of physical illnesses, such as headaches
- Frequent absences from school or poor performance in
- Poor concentration
- A major change in eating and/or sleeping patterns
- Talk of or efforts to run away from home
- Thoughts or expressions of suicide or self-destructive
If one or more of these signs of depression persist in your
child, the AACAP suggests seeking professional help. Getting
an early diagnosis and medical treatment are critical for
Treating Teen Depression
Depression is a serious condition, which, if left untreated,
can even become life threatening. According to the National
Mental Health Association (NMHA), each year 5,000 young people
between the ages of 15 and 24 commit suicide. The rate has
tripled since 1960. Therapy can help teens understand why
they are depressed and learn how to handle stressful situations.
Treatment may consist of individual, group or family counseling.
Medications prescribed by a psychiatrist may be needed to
help teens feel better.
The NMHA cites the following methods for treating depression:
- Psychotherapy: This method
explores events and feelings that are painful and troubling.
It also teaches coping skills.
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy:
This approach helps teens change negative patterns of thinking
- Interpersonal therapy: This
method focuses on ways of developing healthier relationships
at home and school.
- Medication: Taking medication
relieves some symptoms of depression. It is often prescribed
along with therapy.
Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry