Depressed diabetics often neglect treatment

BERLIN - Diabetic patients who have persistently high blood-sugar levels or experience sudden drops in blood glucose may be suffering from depression, the Berlin-based German Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Neurology Association (DGPPN) pointed out.

Depressed diabetics often neglect to take their medication as well as to measure their blood sugar regularly, explained Professor Fritz Hohagen, a member of the DGPPN’s executive board.

“Their blood sugar then can’t be controlled satisfactorily despite repeated adjustments in therapy,” he said, adding that doctors all too often failed to suspect depression in such cases.

Signs of depression include deep despondency, apathy, insomnia and social withdrawal. If these symptoms last longer than two weeks, Hohagen said, the patient should see a psychiatrist or psychotherapist.

“The sooner the symptoms of depression are treated, the better the patient will feel and the better the patient’s blood sugar can be controlled,” Hohagen remarked. This gives a significant boost to the quality of the patient’s life, he said.

For reasons yet unclear, people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes are about twice as likely as those with normal metabolism to suffer from depression, according to the DGPPN. It noted, however, that people with chronic diseases were generally at greater risk of developing depression because of the added stress they were under.

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