Spouses of type 2 diabetics often experience symptoms of depression

Living with type 2 diabetes doesn't just affect the person with the disease. New findings suggest that it can also have a major impact on an individual's spouse, which may result in high levels of anxiety and even depression.

A team of researchers from Purdue University reported in the journal Family Relations that partners of diabetic patients generally feel about the same levels of stress and anxiety as the actual patient. These feelings often contribute to sadness, distress and depression.

However, the most surprising finding was that these spousal feelings of anxiety generally have less to do with concern for the condition of the person with diabetes and more do with their own concerns about caring for someone with the disease and living in that situation.

"Responsibilities and anxieties can differ for patients with diabetes and their spouses, but each may experience stress, frustration and sadness at times related to the demands of living with this disease," said Melissa M. Franks, who led the investigation. "Because spouses' distress is not always directly linked to feelings of their partner, it tells us that we need to pay more attention to the spouse as well as the patient."

As part of paying more attention to the spouses of diabetics, Franks said that clinicians should pay more attention to the mood of both their patients and their partners. This may help spouses of diabetics seek therapy when appropriate, which she added can be extremely effective.

The researchers arrived at their results after surveying 185 couples who had experience dealing with type 2 diabetes. Participants answered questions relating to the presence of depressive symptoms, anxiety related to the treatment and other measures of distress.
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