One in two people living with diabetes across eight cities in the country has admitted to suffering from depression and sleep-related disorders as a result of the chronic condition, a survey has found.
India has the second largest population of diabetics in the world and with many diabetics struggling with mental health issues, doctors have said that the survey’s findings are worrisome.
Around 58% diabetics who were surveyed said they could not sleep properly, while 56% confessed to be battling depression. “There is a strong correlation between diabetes and depression. Those having depression tend to be less active and follow unhealthy food habits.
Diabetics may also develop depression because of the restrictions they experience because of the condition,” said Dr Shahshank Joshi, an endocrinologist who was part of a group of physicians who facilitated the survey.
The survey was conducted among 644 diabetics living in Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Bangalore, Kochi, Lucknow and Indore by the Association of Physicians, India and Novo Nordisk, a diabetes care company. During the study 81% people admitted that they experienced some discomfort as a result of diabetes.
Doctors also said that there is a huge stigma attached with diabetes. “If someone starts exercising all of a sudden, people will inquire if he or she has been diagnosed with diabetes. Many respondents felt that they were treated differently at work because they had diabetes. Some admitted that their relationship with their partners was also affected,” said Dr Joshi.
Psychiatrists said that secondary depression as a result of diabetes is also a concern. In fact, the society of endocrinologists and psychiatrists in the country is developing guidelines for treating diabetics who have depression. “Diabetes is not a one-year disease. Here, the person has observed lifelong restrictions, which can be stressful,” said Dr NN Raju, general secretary, of Indian Psychiatric Society.
Initially, I didn’t believe that I could be diabetic: Nikhil Patel
Three years ago, when doctors told Nikhil Patel that he was diabetic, he refused to believe them.
“I actually went to another laboratory to get my sugar levels checked. But unfortunately, I did have diabetes,” said Patel, a resident of Byculla.
Patel had decided to go for a check-up three years ago when he started experiencing fatigue. “I used to feel extremely low and my interest in work and social life had also dropped. That’s when I decided to visit a doctor,” said Patel.
After being diagnosed with diabetes, Patel started following a diet and exercise regime slated by his doctors.
“Being a Gujarati, sweets are an integral part of our daily diet. Initially, it was difficult to stop eating sweets,” said Patel, who takes oral medicines daily to control his sugar levels.
(Nikhil Patel is a 26-year-old entrepreneur from Byculla.)
I avoid elevators to enjoy sweets once in a while: Hamir Sampat
For the past 35 years, Kalbadevi resident, Dr Hamir Sampat, has never used the elevator of the building in which he stays.
“I never take the elevator and that’s how I can afford to enjoy sweets once in a while,” said Dr Sampat, who takes three insulin injections daily to control his sugar levels.
Diagnosed with type II diabetes at 24, the physician walks seven to eight kilometers every day. “My father and my elder brother were diagnosed with diabetes after me. Initially I was shocked because I never expected to become diabetic at such a young age,” said Dr Sampat, who is the inspiration to many of his patients.
“My diabetic patients come to me for advice because I have first-hand experience in dealing with it,” he said.
However, Dr Sampat lost his 22-year-old son, who was also diabetic. “He also had thyroid, which worsened his situation,” he said. Diabetes is known to be a hereditary health problem.
(Dr Hamir Sampat, 60, is a general practitioner and has been suffering from the condition for 36 years. Rishma Kapur)