Mindfulness for the Diabetic Mind

Type 2 diabetes patients may reduce depression and stress through mindfulness training

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) Meditation and other mindfulness exercises can be good for your state of mind. Because mental health is tied to physical health, mindfulness training also could be good for people with diabetes.

Mindfulness-based stress reduction may lower stress and reduce depression in people with type 2 diabetes.

"Reduce stress if you have diabetes."

In their recent research, Mechthild Hartmann, M.Sc., of the University of Heidelberg in Germany, and colleagues wanted to see if mindfulness training would reduce psychosocial distress and kidney damage in people with type 2 diabetes.

Psychosocial distress includes conditions like stress and depression.

Stress can cause a diabetes patient's blood sugar to change in a couple ways. First, people who are stressed often do not take care of themselves. They may exercise less or drink more alcohol. Second, the hormones released when you are stressed can directly alter your blood sugar levels.

While most people with diabetes do not have depression, diabetes patients have a higher risk of depression than those without diabetes. If you are depressed and have diabetes, you may become less dedicated to your self-care.

Depression might give you less energy, making you less likely to exercise. All of this can have a huge impact on your blood sugar control.

From their study, Hartmann and colleagues found that mindfulness training - which often involves exercises like meditation, deep breathing, and awareness of sounds - may be beneficial for diabetes patients.

The researchers split 110 type 2 diabetes patients with microalbuminuria (evidence of kidney damage) into two treatment groups. The first group received a mindfulness-based intervention while the second group received normal treatment.

The results showed that patients in the mindfulness training group had lower levels of depression and improved health after one year, compared to those in the normal treatment group.

The researchers found no significant difference in kidney damage between the two treatment groups.

The authors concluded that a mindfulness-based stress reduction treatment helped diabetes patients achieve a long-term reduction in psychosocial distress.

As the study was made to look at long-term outcomes over a five-year period, the researchers plan to look further into the effects of mindfulness training on kidney damage.

These initial results from this randomized controlled trial are published in the journal Diabetes Care.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
May 9, 2012
Last Updated:
May 12, 2012