Does Type 2 Diabetes cause depression? Those of us who have prediabetes or Type 2 Diabetes or know someone with it would probably say “yes”, simply because the metabolic disorder is noted for seeming to cause depression, reactive behavior and mood swings. In fact, for decades, irritability, a negative attitude and paranoid episodes have been blamed on low blood sugar. Now a study done at the University of Iowa ad published in Psychosomatic Medicine affirms that what we have suspected all along is true: Type 2 Diabetics do have a stronger response to perceived threats and as a result are more at risk for depression.
Why Are Type 2 Diabetics More At Risk For Depression?
In order to assess how and why Type 2 Diabetics might be more at risk for depression, graduate student and author Tova Wolfe worked with colleagues at the University of Wisconsin-Madison to analyze the startle response of diabetics. In animals, including humans, the startle response is a largely unconscious defensive response to sudden or threatening stimuli, such as sudden noise or sharp movement, and is associated with negative affect. When the “startle response” is exaggerated, more cortisol is produced in the body, which in turn causes anxiety and blood sugar to rise even further.
The actual study was accomplished by the placing of small electrodes beneath the subject’s eye to measure flinching as they viewed both positive and negative imagery. The result, which is not that surprising to many, is that individuals with high levels of insulin resistance tended to have exaggerated responses to negative imagery, compared to the general population. These results were complimented by EEG test that recorded brain activity while the subjects were looking at the images. The research found that participants with prediabetes and Type 2 experienced more right brain activity, which is the side of the brain that focuses on negative emotions. This in turn would cause issues such as blood sugar spikes, fatigue and even a condition called startle seizures in which a traumatic sight or event would cause a diabetic to briefly zone out for a few minutes.
Staying Away From Stress Is Essential For Diabetics
Staying positive and avoiding stress is absolutely essential for those trying to manage their diabetes or pre-diabetes to prevent the chronic escalation of blood sugar. As startle reactions are defensive and involuntary, the diabetic has absolutely no control of how their response stimuli is affecting their blood sugar and general health. This becomes a vicious cycle as the diabetic finds themselves unable to lose weight because of hormonal issues provoked by the startle response or completely unmotivated to exercise because they feel depressed. Fortunately, there are ways to manage this condition by managing your Type 2 Diabetes through diet, exercise and meditation.
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Iowa State University. “Brain activity helps explain diabetics’ negative feelings, risk for depressio
n.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 May 2018. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/05/180507111821.htm>.
Tovah Wolf, Vera Tsenkova, Carol D. Ryff, Richard J. Davidson, Auriel A. Willette. Neural, Hormonal, and Cognitive Correlates of Metabolic Dysfunction and Emotional Reactivity. Psychosomatic Medicine, 2018; 1 DOI: 10.1097/PSY.0000000000000582