Restoring happiness in diabetes patients with depression

Depression is more than just a bad mood. Depression is a medical condition that causes feelings of sadness and a loss of interest in activities one enjoys. It can negatively impact our ability to function at work and at home. Depression can also affect our relationship with other people.

Professor Dr Noran Naqiah Hairi, Professor Dr Moy Foong Ming, and Dr Wan Kim Sui (our Doctor of Public Health candidate) wrote to the media to raise awareness about depression among diabetes patients, which is often under-diagnosed. The article was published in Malaysiakini.

Around 2.3% or half a million Malaysian adults have depression, and there is a bilateral relationship between depression and diabetes. People with diabetes are two to three times more likely to have depression than those without diabetes. On the other hand, depression leads to reduced self-care and adherence to lifestyle changes and medical treatment. This leads to poor diabetes control, which may exacerbate the negative feeling.

The co-occurrence of depression and diabetes ranged from 6.5 to 33%. However, depression among people with diabetes is often under-diagnosed. Only 25% to 50% of diabetes patients with depression get diagnosed and treated. This is a missed clinical and public health opportunity as without treatment, depression often worsen. Moreover, the current COVID-19 pandemic has further aggravated mental health issues among people with and without diabetes in many parts of the world.

Depression symptoms range from mild to severe. These include feeling sad or empty, losing interest in favourite activities, overeating or not wanting to eat at all, not being able to sleep or sleeping too much, having trouble concentrating or making decisions, feeling very tired, feeling hopeless, irritable, anxious, or guilty, having aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems, and having thoughts of suicide or death.

If you think you (or your loved ones) might have depression, seek help from your doctor right away. The earlier depression is recognised and treated, the better the outcome.

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