The daily challenges that come with following an insulin treatment, measuring blood sugar, adapting activities based on blood sugar levels, and managing of hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia, along with the risks of complications and even social stigma, can impact the quality of life and well-being of people with T1D.
This could be why the risk of depression is two to three times higher among people with T1D than among the general population.1
In addition, the risk of developing anxiety is 1.5 times higher. According to the results of a study on people with T1D, this would be mostly due to the fear of developing diabetes-related complications.
Both conditions are sometimes present at the same time. Someone with anxiety will run a higher risk of developing symptoms of depression, and vice-versa.
Impact on T1D management
A team of researchers in Australia looked at how anxiety and symptoms of depression impact diabetes self-management, long-term blood sugar levels (HbA1c) and diabetes-related complications among adults with T1D.2
The researchers found that symptoms of depression are associated with a reduced commitment to self-care activities (e.g., healthy eating, blood sugar monitoring, medication taking, physical activity), which leads to suboptimal glycemic control among people with T1D.
The same observations were made for participants who had anxiety as well as symptoms of depression.
However, anxiety alone doesn’t seem to have any negative impact on self-management or long-term blood sugar levels.
Providing better care to people with T1D through a holistic approach
The results of this study suggest that the whole range of care provided to people with T1D, including psychological care, if necessary, should factor in the potential impact of depression. People with T1D would benefit from getting better support that would help improve diabetes self-management and their overall health.
A large component of the BETTER study aims to better understand the challenges associated with the psychological and mental health of people with type 1 diabetes.
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1- Barnard, K.D., Skinner, T.C., Peveler, R. (2006). The prevalence of co-morbid depression in adults with Type 1 diabetes: systematic literature review. Diabetic Medicine, 23(4), 445–448.
2- Schmitt, A., McSharry, J., Speight, J., Holmes-Truscott, E., Hendrieckx, C., Skinner, T., Pouwer, F., & Byrne, M. (2021). Symptoms of depression and anxiety in adults with type 1 diabetes: Associations with self-care behaviour, glycaemia and incident complications over four years – Results from diabetes MILES-Australia. Journal of affective disorders, 282, 803–811.
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