7 Tips for Dealing With Depression & Type 2 Diabetes
Last updated: June 2023
I have struggled with depression most of my life. For most of my life, it was undiagnosed.
The struggle is real, though. Merely having a chronic health condition can make you susceptible to depression. Already having depression and then adding any chronic health condition makes the depression worse in many cases, as it did with mine. For people with diabetes, this can be especially dangerous as not taking meds and being inactive can cause other complications of diabetes and irreversible damage to the body.
In the last 2 years, I have faced the effects of dealing with depression more frequently and for longer periods of time. When I experience these episodes, I am lethargic and have no energy. All I want to do is sleep. I don't move much, eat much, and typically neglect to take my medications. When I do eat, I often go straight for comfort foods. Obviously not a great game plan for a person with diabetes.
Living with type 2 diabetes and depression
Type 2 diabetes and other health issues are a constant stressor in many people's lives. It often requires the development of new coping mechanisms as well as building different support systems. Some people can easily make these adjustments. Someone dealing with depression may not be able to connect those dots easily. Depression can affect your ability to perform tasks, communicate, and think clearly. I think this is especially true when you are experiencing massive changes in your life.
7 tips for depression management with diabetes
There are 7 tips, besides therapy, that have helped me begin to handle my two diagnoses. They align with things that have been suggested on several diabetes and mental health platforms.
Lean on supportive friends. Ask them to check on you when your struggling. Have them ask you if you are taking your meds, staying hydrated, and moving daily. It doesn't have to be a big deal or even in person. A text message will suffice. Be honest with them if you're not doing what you need to do.
What are your health goals concerning diabetes? Determine how/what you want to eat. When will you take your meds? How often will you exercise? When you set goals, post them in places where you will see them regularly. Setting goals assists people in obtaining success in every area of life.
Make a schedule
Get your calendar out or helpful tracking apps on your phone or tablet and put your tasks on them with reminders. Try taking your medication and exercising at the same time daily. Doing so helps develop the habits and ensures that you take the time to do all the important things that will maintain and/or improve your health.
That's right, journal! It doesn't matter if you do it electronically or on paper; write it out or do a voice memo, just do it! Journaling helps you acknowledge all those feelings that you don't want to deal with while allowing you to release them so you can move through them to a different place.
Get up and move! Move your body! Even if you walk in place for 30 minutes a day. Yoga, walking, hiking, canoeing, elliptical machine it...whatever gets you interested and moving, do it.
Get some fresh air
Whether you exercise outdoors or not, get outside and take in some sunlight and fresh air. Sit on your porch, deck, patio, or balcony and inhale deeply. Sunlight and fresh air have a multitude of benefits. Among them is combatting depression. If you can't get outside, try opening up the blinds and windows for a bit.
Interact with other living things
Even if you are not the type of person who wants plants and animals around, get out and interact with them. Since I live alone, it really helps me to have plants to take care of. My apartment is not conducive to having my own pets, so I visit a friend with pets if I need a critter interaction. Interacting with people works, but I find plants and animals a bit more conducive to pulling myself out of a funk than dealing with humans who can criticize me for where I'm at mentally.
I still struggle from time to time, but doing these things helps me a lot. I also partake in therapy in addition to these things and others. If you're dealing with depression, know you are not alone, and there is plenty of help and support out there. All you have to do is reach out.
How often do you find yourself craving sweet snacks?