If you suffer from depression you’ve got a lot on your plate. And strong evidence suggests that what you’re putting on that plate—along with other depression-related factors—can put you at greater risk for developing type 2 diabetes. But before you get even more depressed, you’ll be glad to know that by adopting certain healthy habits now, you’ll not only help prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes, you’ll also see improvements in your depression. Here’s a look at how depression can lead to diabetes, along with some steps to avoid it.
Depression can lead to poor dietary habits:
When it comes to derailing healthy eating, depression can put you right on the path to diabetes. Not only are depressed people less likely to put time and effort into preparing regular balanced meals, they tend to gravitate towards processed carbohydrate-rich comfort foods, and not always in moderation. Along with weight gain— especially around the mid-section—which increases the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes, poor diet can also cause insulin resistance, which is typical of type 2 diabetes. The good news is that a properly balanced diet—primarily plant-based but also moderate in fruits, and lean meats—is not only effective at preventing diabetes, it’s also been shown to help improve mood, self-esteem, and feelings of well-being.
Depression can make you sedentary:
Many who suffer from depression experience low energy, loss of interest, and the desire to participate in normal activities. In addition, unexplained aches and pains can make it even more difficult to stay active and exercise regularly. And it’s no secret that a sedentary lifestyle is a major risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes. Along with the aforementioned problems of weight gain, lack of physical exercise also sets you up for diabetes in another way. While aerobic exercise triggers your body’s natural response to insulin, a lack of exercise makes insulin less effective at metabolizing sugars on the cellular level. In fact, many type 2 diabetics produce normal levels of insulin, but their bodies have become resistant to its effects. The good news is that by increasing daily physical activity, including regular aerobic exercise, you cut your risk of developing diabetes dramatically. AND, since aerobic exercise promotes the release of endorphins and other “feel good” bio-chemicals in the brain, it serves as a natural antidepressant.
Depression can rob you of quality sleep:
Lack of restful sleep or sleeping too long are fairly common problems for those with depression. In either case the result is the same—a lack of restful, rejuvenating sleep which tends to make depression worse. Unfortunately, research also shows that getting too much or too little sleep can also lead to type 2 diabetes due to the effects of a hormone called cortisol on blood sugar metabolism. The stresses of depression typically cause higher than normal levels of cortisol in the bloodstream, and poor sleep patterns can make these levels even higher. The result is a decrease in blood sugar metabolism and an increase in fat metabolism. In an effort to shift back to burning glucose, the body secretes more insulin, but the higher levels of fats in the blood can make insulin less effective and contribute to insulin resistance. Chronically high cortisol levels are also associated with gaining weight in the mid-section, another trait often seen in type 2 diabetes. The good news is that there are things you can do to help get the restful sleep that can ease depression and help ward off type 2 diabetes. The key is to look for things that promote nighttime relaxation such as deep breathing or reading right before bedtime. Hot bubble baths, scented candles, and aromatic oils such as lavender and vanilla sprinkled on pillow cases are also relaxing, along with herbal teas like chamomile. Cutting out caffeine intake in the afternoons and evenings will also help you be more relaxed at night. If nighttime sounds distract you, try non-stimulating white noise (a small fan can work wonders). Make sure your mattress and pillows are comfortable and supportive, and try using soft cotton sheets and down comforters. And as great as technology is, turn off the TV and say “goodnight” to your computer, laptop, tablet, and smartphone, etc., and do it before bedtime. And don’t forget that healthy eating and regular exercise are proven promoters of restful, restorative sleep. Finally, when you know you’re doing all you can to manage your depression and keep other diseases like type 2 diabetes from further complicating your life, you’ll sleep even better.
Guest Post submitted by Diabetes Connect & Depression Connect