Psychological Effects of Diabetes

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EDINBURG - A diagnoses of diabetes can be devastating and can further take a toll on your body, lifestyle, mind and even family.

A handful of people find their way to the Rio Grande Valley Diabetes Association’s small office in Edinburg one evening once a month.

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

“I immediately lost 30 pounds; got scared. (I’m) familiar with amputation and all that, so I took to diet and exercise,” he said.

Martinez said he tries to stay positive. The session he attended talked about those who can’t keep a positive outlook.

Dr. Francisco Fernandez, a psychiatric doctor and Dean of UTRGV’s medical school, 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,” he said.

Dr. Fernandez said patients often find themselves feeling depressed after a positive diagnosis.

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

He said there are nine symptoms of depression disorder:

  • A depressed mood

  • Loss of energy

  • Feeling of wordlessness or guilt

  • Inability to concentrate and make decisions

  • Recurring thoughts of suicide

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

Dr. Fernandez said the Rio Grande Valley is a place where depression can be taboo. He said not everyone handles diabetic symptoms or the outlook in it as well as Ramirez.

“For one reason only: I value my life because I thank god every day that I wake up. And two, I value my life because I want to continue seeing my children, which are all college graduates and my grandkids,” Ramirez said.

Ramirez said people who are depressed can’t help their condition. That’s why loved ones should look for the signs and get help as early as possible. 

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CHANNEL 5 NEWS is dedicating two weeks of coverage and events to diabetes. As part of Heart of the Valley, there will be free screenings, live Q&A session with doctors and more. Learn more on the Heart of the Valley page.