Quick overview of what you’ll learn from this blog post:
- What is insulin resistance?
- What is the link between insulin resistance and depression?
- What tools exist to help monitor insulin levels?
What is insulin resistance?
Maybe you’ve heard of insulin resistance, but what exactly is it? First, let’s define insulin. Insulin is a hormone that’s critical for controlling your blood glucose levels. Without enough of it, glucose that’s supposed to enter your cells hangs out in your bloodstream; the aftermath of what’s known as insulin resistance.
What is the link between insulin resistance and depression?
A recent study from Stanford Medicine has identified a connection between insulin resistance and depression.
Simply put, insulin resistance is a condition characterized by an inability to effectively control blood sugar glucose levels. This recent study’s findings suggest that, in addition to being a precursor to diabetes, insulin resistance adds to one’s risk of developing a depressive disorder.
How can this happen? According to Natalie Rasgon, MD, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, “your risk of developing the major depressive disorder is double that of someone who’s not insulin-resistant, even if you’ve never experienced depression before.”
Rasgon’s research on the subject has been going on since 2015 when she began work on a longitudinal study of more than 3000 participants in the Netherlands. The goal of the Dutch research was to identify and analyze various causal factors in cases of depression and anxiety. From the initial 3000, Ragson and the Stanford team confirmed 601 men and women as the control group, each of whom reported having never experienced feelings of depression or anxiety prior. Researchers then looked at insulin resistance markers including fasting blood glucose levels, waist circumference, the ratio of circulating triglyceride levels to those of circulating high-density lipoprotein—or HDL.
When looking specifically at the triglyceride-to-HDL ratio Ragson and her team discovered an 89% heightened risk of new cases of major depressive disorder. As for the other prediabetic markers, the study indicates “every 5-centimeter increase in abdominal fat was related to an 11% higher rate of depression, and an increase in fasting plasma glucose of 18 milligrams per deciliter of blood was associated with a 37% higher rate of depression.”
Ultimately, the study author’s assert conclusive evidence linking insulin resistance to depression, suggesting the need for clinical intervention and public awareness of the newly discovered risk factors.
The good news? There are several tools that can help.
What tools exist to help monitor insulin levels?
For those currently seeking treatment for insulin resistance following a diagnosis, be sure to work with your healthcare provider on a treatment plan most appropriate for you. If you’re curious what else could help, you may ask your healthcare provider about prescription therapy Metformin. Metformin has been shown to help reduce blood glucose levels and boasts impressive ancillary benefits including reduced risks of colon & pancreatic cancer; cognitive impairment & dementia; and macrovascular disease. Metformin can also help to facilitate weight loss and activate vital longevity pathways.
But the options are not limited to those previously identified as insulin resistant. Products exist to help individuals experiencing symptoms consistent with blood glucose function issues to determine whether or not they should seek advice from a healthcare professional. A Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) is a convenient and reliable way to monitor your glucose levels by using a thin, flexible filament (needle) inserted just under the skin. It syncs with your smartphone to provide glucose readings in real-time. This can tell you a lot about how diet, exercise, supplementation, and even prescription therapy can impact your levels.
Lab-based tests, like this Core Longevity Panel can also be very helpful in identifying where you can improve upon your current health. This particular lab-based test measures 10 key biomarkers critical to health & longevity, including insulin resistance. The easy-to-read, lab-based test also assesses the risk of heart disease, diabetes & inflammation. Results establish a health baseline from which you can draw a ton of helpful information as you seek possible treatments from a healthcare provider.