By: Meredith Fairbank for Diabetes1
A recent study of depressed diabetes patients over 60 years old found that integrating the courses of treatment for diabetes and depression proved highly effective. After adjusting for extraneous factors, patients who received integrated treatment were 51 percent less likely to die over the next five years than the control group. The program, however, had no significant impact on non-diabetic patients.
Diabetes, unlike many diseases, is treatable and perfectly compatible with an active lifestyle provided that it is vigilantly maintained. It’s up to patients to get into the driver’s seat and do all they can for their health.
But previous research has established that depressed patients with diabetes find it difficult to adequately manage their diabetes. Tasks such as adhering to the recommended diet, exercising, filling their prescriptions, and regularly monitoring glucose levels often do not get done on time to the detriment of the patient’s health.
Tips for Tackling Depression:
Take up salsa dancing or learn new diabetes-friendly recipes. Order a free salsa CD or videotape, Movimiento por su vida, and recipe booklets from the National Diabetes Education Program by calling 800-438-5383 or clicking here.
Get together with other diabetics – either in person or online – to keep one another accountable for keeping the disease in check.
Organization is key. By simply keeping your glucose test kit by your bed you can remind yourself to check your blood sugar level every night before going to sleep
Reach out and talk to someone. You can do this via an in-person or online support group. Remember, you are not alone.
Diabetics who were depressed in this study were significantly younger, more likely to be single, female, unemployed, and had two or more diabetes complications. In addition, they were more likely to smoke, be obese, and have a sedentary lifestyle.
In tackling depression it’s important to remember that every problem has a solution. Depression, like any other negative physical response, is the body’s way of providing important feedback. It is an alarm bell akin to the pain of being burned that causes one to jerk away from the fire. Depression can be treated in a variety of ways, from finding an uplifting support group, to talk therapy, to medication. Go with the type of treatment that works for you.
Give yourself permission to make maintaining diabetes fun. For example, sign up for dance classes or meet friends for a walk in the park. Remember to check your blood glucose level before exercising. Don’t begin until it exceeds 100 mg/dl. If it’s below that level, eat a carbohydrate snack or piece of fruit and repeat the test in 30 minutes. Check your level after every 30 minutes of exercise and keep a carbohydrate snack with you.
Getting organized also seems to be one of the best things you can do for yourself. Make daily tasks as routine as possible by keeping your glucose test kit, for example, by your bed as a reminder to check it before going to sleep. Plan meals in advance so you won’t overeat, learn new recipes for diabetics and cook with others if possible.
Always tell your doctor about all physical and psychological ailments. In addition, let your doctor know which medications you are on, including herbs and natural remedies such as St. John’s Wort because they may not mix well with certain prescriptions.
Fifteen percent of Americans over 65 years old live with diabetes. The good news is that with adequate care it doesn’t have to slow you down.