Diabetic Neuropathy: From Mind to Nerve

Diabetic neuropathy is a condition that affects many people worldwide and in the state of Georgia. Yet, many people don’t realize that the condition’s impact extends beyond physical symptoms, as it can also significantly impact mental health. Learn more about the connection of diabetic neuropathy from mind to nerve below!

Understanding Diabetic Neuropathy

When we think of diabetes, most of us probably just consider high blood sugar. But did you know that diabetes can cause nerve damage? Imagine the feeling of being pricked by needles, yet no one is touching you. This is often the reality for those living with diabetic neuropathy (DN). This condition results from prolonged high blood sugar levels, which can damage the nerves in the body and lead to a variety of symptoms. DN is classified into four different types:

  1. Autonomic – Known to often impact the nerves that control digestion, blood pressure, and other automatic functions.
  2. Focal – Typically affects a single nerve, such as the wrist or foot.
  3. Peripheral – The most common type of diabetic neuropathy, often affecting the nerves in the feet and legs.
  4. Proximal – Usually causes nerve damage in the buttocks, hips, and thighs.

With proper medical treatment, the symptoms of diabetic neuropathy can be managed, and patients affected can lead healthy, fulfilling lives.Photo of a stethoscope around a plastic representation of a brain.

Diabetic Neuropathy and Mental Health – The Connection

In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, it’s important to discuss the effects DN can have on the psyche. Studies have shown that patients with diabetic neuropathy are more likely to experience depression, anxiety, and cognitive dysfunction. The connection between these issues lies in the physiological changes caused by nerve damage. As the nerves responsible for transmitting messages throughout the body become damaged, important signals to the brain are disrupted, leading to a neurotransmitter imbalance that affects the mood.

Additionally, chronic pain and discomfort associated with the condition can lead to emotional distress. Research has found that neuropathy damages the autonomic nervous system and stimulates the sympathetic nervous system, which can cause symptoms of anxiety and depression in people with diabetes. Moreover, the psychological distress associated with neuropathy can be a result of decreased quality of life and social isolation, which are commonly seen in patients who have this condition. As well as having trouble sleeping due to discomfort, which can lead to further mental distress. It’s essential for patients with diabetic neuropathy to understand the potential effects this condition might have on their mental health and to seek support from healthcare professionals if needed. We must aim to support patients in managing both their physical symptoms and their mental health concerns equally.

Don’t let the symptoms of neuropathy hold you back from experiencing all of the amazing things in life. North Georgia Clinical Research Center is currently enrolling participants in DN studies in and around the Woodstock area. If you or a loved one are curious to learn more, visit our website, or contact us at (678) 494-5735 for more details!