A recent study has shown that people who suffer from diabetes are likely to be in worse health when they simultaneously suffer from depression or another psychological illness. And if you’ve ever known someone who has suffered from both mental and physical illness at the same time, then you probably have an idea of how hard it is to cope with this difficult combination.
This makes sense when you think about it. After all, people who are depressed often have trouble completing everyday tasks, even tasks that are basic or necessary such as brushing their teeth or eating.
Similarly, people who are suffering from anxiety or other disorders may forget to do certain things as well, and may spend more time analyzing their psychological problems than taking care of the physical ones. This new study confirms that, in fact, these major emotional disorders can impact how well people treat diseases such as diabetes.
The study looked at serious psychological distress — or SPD for short — in diabetes patients via a phone survey. They found that 42% of patients who had a mental disorder on top of their diabetes were likely to avoid filling a prescription for medicine, compared with 16.5% of patients who suffered from diabetes alone. Also, those suffering from SPD were 24% less likely to visit a doctor about their illness.
What’s more alarming about this is that almost a quarter of people suffering from an emotional disorder tend to turn to the emergency room as their main method of receiving health care. Close to 80% of patients with psychological disorders reported that they were in bad or fair health, while almost half as many of those suffering from just diabetes reported the same negative health profile.
However, it is important to note that people who suffered from depression were also more likely to be in the low- income bracket, and thus had limited access to money for health care.
Previous studies have shown that people with diabetes are more prone to severe psychological distress, in general. So, when looking at the above statistics, one has to wonder whether it’s the depression and poverty that leads to the diabetes or if it’s the diabetes that lead to depression and poverty.
One thing is clear from this study — people who suffer from psychological distress on top of diabetes are less likely to seek preventive treatment and therefore suffer from worse health than people who do not bear an additional mental illness on top of their diabetes. Counseling may be a good idea for diabetics who show a lack of interest in their own personal health, especially when psychological symptoms are present.