Depression and diabetes

By Harvard Pilgrim Health Care


When you’ve got diabetes, it’s understandable to feel stressed out or even depressed at times. According to the American Diabetes Association, depression occurs more frequently in people with diabetes than in the general population.

Depression itself is more common than many people realize. More than 20 million people in the United States suffer from depression. Depression responds well to treatment. But if not treated, it can be a serious danger to your health.


How does depression feel?

Occasionally feeling sadness is a part of life, of course. But if you feel sad for more than a few days, have lost interest in activities that you usually enjoy and feel tired or hopeless, you may be dealing with depression.

"Depression" courtesy of Flickr user Shane Kemp. "Depression" 來自Flickr用戶 Shane Kemp。

“Depression” courtesy of Flickr user Shane Kemp.

If you live with diabetes, depression can make it harder to cope with its challenges. It can cause more physical discomfort. Sticking to your diabetes management plan can seem more difficult. For example, things like managing blood glucose levels, taking medications as prescribed and following healthy lifestyle habits can seem overwhelming when you’re depressed.


What to watch for

Knowing the symptoms can put treatment to work for you or a loved one sooner. And when you feel better, it’s easier to take better control of your diabetes and your health.

Symptoms associated with depression vary from person to person. They also may be difficult to recognize at first. The two most common symptoms of depression are:


  1. Feeling hopeless or sad nearly every day for at least two weeks
  2. Losing interest in usual daily activities nearly every day for at least two weeks


Other symptoms include:

  • Changes in appetite
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Trouble focusing and concentrating
  • Feeling very slow or lazy
  • Feeling very anxious or agitated
  • Feeling isolated from the world
  • Crying for no reason
  • Thoughts of suicide


What to do

If you think you may be depressed, speak with your doctor right away. There are many ways to treat depression. A combination of individual therapy and medication is a common and effective treatment for depression. Lifestyle changes, such as getting more exercise, can also make a big difference.

Feeling blue? Mindfulness meditation may help. gives you step -by-step instructions and free MP3s to get you started.

Have more questions?
Read more about depression, diabetes and other conditions online in our Health Topics A-Z. Visit

Need a referral?
Call our Behavioral Health Access Center* at 888-777-4742 for confidential referrals to a behavioral health provider.


*Please note that some employers do not offer behavioral health coverage through Harvard Pilgrim.

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