The symptoms of depression - such as extreme fatigue, changes in appetite and sleeping habits, and long-lasting sadness and irritability - may be so serious that even getting out of bed or getting ready for school can be very difficult. When teens with type 1 are depressed, the disorder can affect their mood and their ability to do the things they need to do to stay healthy - like taking their diabetes medications, exercising, and eating right. Researchers from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and Children's Medical Center in Dallas, Texas, studied how depression affects preteens and teens with type 1 diabetes.
A group of 231 11- to 18-year-olds with type 1 diabetes answered questions about depression, such as whether they felt sad, whether they had trouble keeping their minds on what they were doing, and whether they thought their lives had been a failure. At the time of the survey, the teens also underwent testing to measure how well they were controlling their blood sugar levels. For people with diabetes, controlling blood sugar levels is an important part of staying healthy. The researchers also looked at medical records to determine which teens were hospitalized for diabetes problems during the study period.
Overall, 11% of all teens were hospitalized for diabetes problems during the study period of December 2001 to May 2003. Depression was linked to a higher risk of hospital admissions for diabetes problems. Teens with type 1 diabetes who had more symptoms of depression had more than twice the risk of being hospitalized for diabetes problems, compared to teens who had fewer symptoms of depression.
What This Means to You: According to the results of this study, having symptoms of depression increases a teen's risk of being hospitalized for diabetes problems. But the study researchers point out that getting early treatment for depression could help. Alleviating the disabling symptoms of depression could make it easier for teens with type 1 diabetes to take care of their diabetes - and may make it less likely that they'd need to be hospitalized.
If you think your child may be depressed or he or she has symptoms like prolonged sadness or irritability, fatigue, appetite changes, or changes in sleeping habits, talk to your child's doctor or a mental health professional.
Source: Sunita M. Stewart, PhD; Uma Rao, MD; Graham J. Emslie, MD; Diane Klein, MSW; Perrin C. White, MD; Pediatrics, May 2005
Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: May 2005