Neuropathy Pain Can Increase Risk of Depression

Learn the symptoms of neuropathy and depression.



Painful neuropathy can lead to an increased risk of depression for those with diabetes, a new study suggests.

Italian researchers discovered that those with painful diabetic polyneuropathy had a slightly increased risk for depression over those experiencing diabetic polyneuropathy without pain, according to a Medscape report. The researchers surveyed 181 people with diabetes on blood sugar scores, neuropathy and emotional well-being. Those with painful polyneuropathy weren’t more likely to be diagnosed with clinical depression, but they scored more likely to have depressive symptoms.

Neuropathy is a degenerative nerve condition that can include burning and shooting pains, loss of sensation, tingling and numbness; Polyneuropathy is when multiple nerves throughout the body start failing at the same time. In people with diabetes, neuropathy can be caused by a variety of factors, including high blood sugar levels and autoimmune inflammation.

Such findings should encourage doctors to seek prompt management of the painful condition and to screen for possible depression. Multiple studies have shown that those with diabetes are at a higher risk for depression than those without diabetes, and that depression can negatively impact diabetes self-care.

While everyone feels sad or tired from time to time, depression is characterized by persistent symptoms throughout the day, every day. The Mayo Clinic has created a list of depressive symptoms that include:

    • Feelings of sadness, tearfulness, emptiness, or hopelessness
    • Angry outbursts, irritability or frustration, even over small matters
    • Loss of interest or pleasure in most or all normal activities
    • Sleep disturbances, including insomnia or sleeping too much
    • Tiredness and lack of energy, so even small tasks take extra effort
    • Anxiety, agitation or restlessness

Whether or not you feel you are experiencing neuropathy, if you feel you may be suffering from depression, seek counseling or treatment.

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Ashley Lambert is a recent Suffolk University graduate. While at Suffolk she studied communication and media studies.