Research from The Expert Centre for Chronic Fatigue at Radboud University in Nijmege, Holland shows that chronic fatigue is much more prevalent than in people without diabetes.
The researchers studied 214 adults with type 1 diabetes and matched them with 214 adults without type 1 diabetes. Within the control group, those without type 1 diabetes, the number of participants with chronic fatigue was 7%. Amongst the type 1 diabetes group, chronic fatigue existed in 40% of the group. Chronic fatigue was defined in the trial as having severe fatigue that has lasted 6 months or longer.
The researchers found that chronic fatigue was not closely linked with HbA1c levels and in a subset of 66 individuals with type 1 diabetes that wore a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) those that had fewer hypos were more likely to be feel tired all the time despite otherwise having similar blood glucose levels.
A factor that was significantly associated with increased likelihood of experiencing chronic fatigue was the presence of diabetes complications or other co-morbidities. Those with type 1 diabetes that had nerve damage (neuropathy), kidney disease (nephropathy), cardiovascular disease were notably more likely be chronically fatigued and this was even more likely in patients with symptoms of depression.
88% of those with depression and type 1 diabetes suffered chronic fatigue. This finding asks questions as to whether chronic fatigue leads to depression in people with type 1 diabetes or vice versa or whether the two develop in step with each other.
Lead researcher in the study, Dr Hans Knoop, notes that “Depression can cause fatigue, but…being fatigued can also lead to (often mild) depressive symptoms. More severe depression can lead to fatigue, and once the depression is treated, fatigue levels often normalize.”
The researchers conclude that psychological interventions could therefore be helpful in the management of persistent tiredness.

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