SOURCE: Diabetes Hands Foundation

May 31, 2012 12:37 ET

Diabetes Advocates Conclude Mental Health Awareness Month by Increasing Awareness About the Diabetes/Depression Link

BERKELEY, CA--(Marketwire - May 31, 2012) - Diabetes Advocates, a non-profit organization which includes the leading names in diabetes social media advocacy, wants to help people with diabetes learn more about their increased risk of depression. May was Mental Health Awareness Month. Through the month the Diabetes Advocates shared information on depression and diabetes on their site at

This new resource shares the studies which show increased risk of depression for diabetes patients, and steps that they and healthcare providers can take to reduce those risks. As May comes to an end, Diabetes Advocates members are featuring information on their website that focus on the mental health issues related to living with diabetes.

"Depression is a serious mental health diagnosis for anyone, but for individuals with diabetes, depression is especially dangerous," said Diabetes Advocate Lee Ann Thill, MA, ATR-BC, LPC. Thill, an individual with type 1 diabetes for more than 30 years, is a licensed art therapist and professional counselor in Pennsylvania whose specialty is working with diabetes patients who have mental health concerns.

"Symptoms of depression may include changes in appetite, decreased interest and motivation, fatigue and loss of energy, and difficulty with concentration and decision-making, all of which can adversely affect diabetes management by making it more difficult to exercise, make healthy dietary choices, and follow through with other medically-necessary daily activities like taking medication and checking blood sugars," said Thill. "People who are depressed are more prone to self-destructive behavior, which for someone with diabetes, often manifests itself in not following through with diabetes management."

"In the short term, this can exacerbate and prolong depression, as well as contribute to elevated blood sugar levels. Longer term, diabetes that goes unmanaged as a result of depression increases the risk of developing diabetes complications and early mortality. The bottom line is that the serious consequences and risks that characterize each of these illnesses become more severe when an individual has both, so diagnosis and treatment are imperative in order to minimize their effects," Thill said.

Research indicates that the prevalence of depression in people with diabetes is twice that of the general population, and is confirmed by a 2001 meta-analysis of research on depression in adults with diabetes in the American Diabetes Association journal Diabetes Care. A 2002 study, also from Diabetes Care, showed that patients with co-morbid diabetes and depression had increased health use and expenditure.

"We want to encourage patients with diabetes and their loved ones to talk to their healthcare providers if they suspect depression," said Thill. "We also want to advocate for improved depression screening by healthcare providers for diabetes patients. Diabetes patients are more likely to be seen by doctors than those without diabetes, so medical care providers are in a prime position to not only screen and refer for treatment if needed, but also educate patients about their increased risk for depression, just as they educate about diabetes patients' increased risk for eye, kidney and nerve damage. People who are mentally healthy are more likely to follow through with their diabetes management, which is key to good medical outcomes for people with diabetes," Thill said. "As Diabetes Advocates, our goal is to help people with diabetes be healthy and happy!"


Diabetes Advocates is a not-for-profit program run by the Diabetes Hands Foundation. The program combines the resources of its members to do activities to better educate the public about all aspects concerning diabetes. For more details, visit:

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