It's long been known that people who live with diabetes have an increased risk of depression, even in comparison to those who live with other chronic illnesses. Now we may know one of the reasons why.
Researchers at Joslin Diabetes Center recently conducted a study on mice in which they made the animals' brains insulin resistant. This caused the mice to behave as though they were anxious or depressed, and the researchers then found there was a specific way insulin resistance lowers dopamine, a hormone associated with feelings of happiness and pleasure. The study also gave insight into how best to treat depression in a way specific to diabetes care.
"These mice release a normal amount of dopamine, but because of these changes in the mitochondria they metabolize that dopamine faster, and it's not around as long," C. Ronald Kahn, Joslin's chief academic officer, said. "We think that contributes to these behaviors, and in fact when we give the mice antidepressants that work by slowing dopamine degradation, we can correct some of the behavioral changes."
If you are personally experiencing depression or anxiety, talk to your doctor. There are many ways to address these conditions, and doctors who treat patients with diabetes will not be unfamiliar with the mental health challenges that often accompany it.