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Diabetes and Mental Health – Is there a link between the two?

Posted on: Sunday, November 14th, 2021



You may have heard people say that our physical health can affect our mental health, and vice versa. Well this is true, and a good example of this is the link between diabetes and mental health. With World Diabetes Day taking place this month on November 14, it is the perfect opportunity to familiarize ourselves with the relation between diabetes and mental health. 


Diabetes has far-reaching consequences that go beyond blood sugar levels. It can cause abrupt mood swings, putting emotional strain on one’s relationships and personal life. A diabetes diagnosis means making certain adjustments to one’s daily routine. These changes can be emotionally demanding, and may lead to very little energy left to handle the illness. Blood sugar fluctuations can induce mood swings and other mental symptoms including fatigue and anxiety.


Having diabetes can cause a condition called diabetes distress which shares some characteristics of stress, depression, and anxiety. Diabetes distress, unlike depression, may be traced back to diabetes-related causes. Fear of dangerously low blood sugar levels, for example, can create a lot of anxiety. External variables such as societal support and family can also impact diabetes distress. Diabetes distress is believed to affect 33-50% of people with diabetes at some stage. While this condition is not usually treatable with medication, there are still many ways to cope with diabetes and manage stress; for example, talk therapy, taking things one at a time, and paying attention to your feelings. 


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