May is recognized nationally as Mental Health Awareness Month. This year, in the face of ongoing stress, anxiety and depression resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever to increase awareness of mental health. Millions of Americans face the reality of living with a mental illness and individuals with diabetes are at an even greater risk of experiencing depression than those without.
Many people with depression experience feelings of hopelessness and feel as if they don’t have as much control over their life as they would like. Other common symptoms include depressed mood, a loss of pleasure or interest in activities that used to be enjoyable, changes in appetite or weight, changes in sleep, loss of energy or fatigue, feelings of worthlessness or trouble with concentration. Some individuals also have feelings of self-harm.
As a result of the pandemic, individuals have experienced an increase in feelings of depression for many reasons. Some have been isolated from friends, family and other social supports, others have lost jobs and faced financial hardships, and some have been worried about their health and the health of loved ones.
If you think you are experiencing feelings of depression, reach out to your PCP or your Joslin care team and ask for help connecting with a mental health specialist. As part of our multidisciplinary approach to patient care, Joslin has a team of behavioral and mental specialists who are very knowledgeable about the link between depression and diabetes.
In addition to working with a mental health specialist - you may also feel better incorporating some of these strategies into your daily routine:
- Gradually increase your activity levels with something you find enjoyable
- Make some small healthy changes to your diet
- Find safe ways to socialize with friends and family
- Work on maintaining a consistent sleep schedule