Group Discusses Effects of Diabetes

Posted: Updated: Mar 24, 2016 11:01 PM

EDINBURG — One evening a month, a handful of people find their way to the Rio Grande Valley Diabetic Association’s small office in Edinburg to discuss diabetes.

Efren Martinez said he tries to attend every meeting. He’s pre-diabetic. Since getting that diagnosis, he’s done everything he can to keep the disease from taking over.

“I immediately lost 30 pounds, got scared, familiar with amputations and all that,” he said. “I took to diet and exercise.”

Martinez said he is staying positive.

The session he attended was about those who can’t keep a positive outlook.

Francisco Fernandez is a psychiatric doctor and the dean of UTRGV’s medical school. He said depression can make the symptoms of diabetes worse.

“You want to find the depression, screen for it early, treat it early and treat it aggressively to remission,” Fernandez said.

Patients often find themselves feeling depressed after a grim diabetes diagnosis.

“Any stressor, whether its diabetes or anything else, loss of a job or whatever, can cause those psychological states that are filled with depressive symptoms,” he said. “But the disorder of depression is what's different.”

People with depression can experience these nine symptoms: a depressed mood, loss of interest in positive activities, significant weight loss or gain, insomnia, feelings of apathy or agitation, loss of energy, feeling of worthlessness or guilt, an inability to concentrate and make decisions, and recurring thoughts of suicide.

“When they're all together, they cause one of the most malignant problems that any person will have to face,” Fernandez said.

Fernandez said the Valley is a place where depression can be taboo. He said not everyone handles diabetic symptoms or the outlook as well as Efren Martinez did.

“I thank God every day that I wake up and… I value my life,” Martinez said. “I want to continue seeing my children, which are all college graduates, and my grandkids.”

People who are depressed can’t help their condition. Loved ones have to look for the signs and get help as early as possible.

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