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Women, feeling low? Take charge of your blood sugar levels

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Did you know women are twice as likely to suffer from depression if they have diabetes than men?

Written by Debjani Arora |Published : July 20, 2018 8:08 PM IST

It is a known fact that people who suffer from diabetes also suffer from depression. In fact, diabetes and depression go hand-in-hand. In fact, according to the American Diabetes Association, the rate of depression in diabetics is greater than that in normal people and women are twice as likely to experience it than men. People who suffer from diabetes are at risk of suffering from a mental health condition like anxiety, depression and severe mood swings.

There is a reason why this happens: The brain needs glucose to function at its optimum. Changes in the blood sugar level affect the ability of the brain making one prone to mood swings. Lack of glucose or excess of it can disrupt the functions of the brain. It is difficult to say whether diabetes triggers mood swings or living with diabetes makes you moody. Fluctuations in blood glucose level lead to a change in levels of neurotransmitters like serotonin and 5HT. When this happens it makes one prone mood swings and then to anxiety and depression, in the long run.

Why are women more at risk of living with depression and diabetes than men?

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In fact, women face the wrath of depression even more due to the hormonal changes that they have to go through in their life which is namely,

  • menstrual cycle changes
  • pregnancy
  • miscarriage
  • postpartum period
  • pre-menopause
  • menopause

'There is a general phenomenon associated with the societal inequalities which women face. If a man gets diabetes, as he is usually the earning member, he is still respected and does not suffer the same consequences as a woman, who always has to place her family, husband and children first before considering her own needs. The fact that she has diabetes can lead to depression during adolescence. Later when marriage is being considered, as it may be difficult for a woman with diabetes to get married, this could lead to depression. The additional challenges faced during the pregnancy; if the lady has diabetes can also lead to depression,' says Dr V. Mohan of Dr Mohan s Diabetes Specialties Centre.

'The fear of developing complications of diabetes like going blind due to diabetes or losing her feet or developing renal failure can also lead to depression because these things affect a women's aesthetic value and her confidence way more than men. The thought or fear of taking insulin can also make women depressed. If and when complications set in e.g., neuropathic pains in the feet or blurring of vision or kidney involvement, then the depression becomes all the more severe,' adds Dr Thomas.

Previous studies have shown individuals who are insulin-resistant may have higher serotonin concentrations and may be more prone to depression and even suicide. Women with diabetes may be more likely to suffer depression because of the clinical diagnosis which affects her greatly.

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