Is depression really like diabetes?

[…] “One of the reasons could be because the practice of psychiatry is based solely on the biomedical model which sees all symptoms as arising from some fault in the brain for which the only cure is medication – the same way as insulin is the cure for diabetes. When a mental health problem is considered to originate from a ‘chemical problem’ in the brain, the specialists can easily justify why it is important first to put that ‘chemical imbalance’ right. This approach consequently leads to the treatment of a ‘diagnosis’ rather than the human being. The patient all too easily becomes a dehumanised object and the doctor the all knowing expert.” […] — Dorrit Cato Christensen

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The Psychiatry SHO*

It’s often said that depression is just like diabetes.

The aim is usually to encourage people to speak up about their mental health problems, by pointing out that they’re no more worthy of shame than other illnesses.

The comparison seems to go down pretty well with most folks. But not with everyone. Some people hate it.


So how much do the two conditions really have in common? A lot, I reckon. Their similarities run deep, but perhaps not in the ways that you’d considered.

To begin with, depression seems to me to compare more closely with Type 2 Diabetes than Type 1, for many reasons.

Whereas Type 1 always involves the same underlying problem – destruction of pancreas cells leading to a lifelong need for insulin – Type 2 is a more variable biological state, just like depression. In Type 2 Diabetes, high sugar levels are primarily caused by the…

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