Deadly Duo: Women with Diabetes and Depression
< Jan. 05, 2011 > -- Women who have both type 2 diabetes and depression face a kind of double whammy: They have a twofold greater risk of dying – particularly from heart disease – than other women.
Having diabetes and depression together can create a vicious cycle, says researcher Frank B. Hu, Ph.D., at Harvard Medical School. “People with diabetes are more likely to be depressed,” he says. That’s because they are under stress because of their condition, and stress is associated with diabetes complications.
People with diabetes who are depressed are less likely to take care of themselves and effectively manage their diabetes, Hu adds. "That can lead to complications, which increase the risk of mortality."
That’s why it’s important for women who have type 2 diabetes or depression – or both – to manage their condition.
If you have diabetes, you can help keep your blood sugar levels under control through a healthy diet and regular exercise. A healthy lifestyle will also help you control your blood pressure, a risk factor for heart disease. Depression can be treated with medication and psychotherapy.
Hu and his research team collected data on 78,282 women who were 54 to 79 years old in 2000 and who were participants in the Nurses' Health Study. Over six years of follow-up, 4,654 women died, including 979 who died of cardiovascular disease, the investigators found.
Women who had diabetes had about a 35 percent increased risk of dying, and those with depression had about a 44 percent increased risk, compared with women with neither condition, the researchers say.
The study, published in this month’s issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry, found that those with both conditions had about twice the risk of dying.
Type 2 diabetes and depression are often related to unhealthy lifestyles, including smoking, poor diet, and lack of exercise. In addition, depression may trigger changes in the nervous system that adversely affect the heart.
More than 23 million Americans have diabetes, and about a fourth of them also suffer from depression. That’s nearly twice the incidence of depression found in people who don’t have diabetes.
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Healthy Eating with Diabetes
When you have diabetes, staying on top of your condition is critical to your health. Following a sensible eating plan can help you control your blood glucose levels, says the American Diabetes Association. It also may help you lose weight and lower your risk for heart disease.
Here are tips to try:
• Track what you eat. If you're counting carbohydrates, keep a conversion chart with your food diary. Make sure it's small enough to carry with you.
• Stock your kitchen well. Go for fruits, vegetables, and high-fiber foods. You're less likely to indulge if high-fat foods aren't easily within reach.
• Don't try to overhaul your diet too quickly. Focus on one goal at a time.
• Talk with a registered dietitian (RD). An RD will work with you to determine an appropriate meal plan for you, based on your weight-loss goal, the medications you take, and other factors.
Always talk with your health care provider to find out more information.
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