Diabetes Blogs

How Diabetes is Affecting Your Mental Health—And Vice Versa


You can’t sleep—again. Despite daytime fatigue, every time you lie down for bed you’re suddenly restless.

At social gatherings, you feel like everyone around you is thinking about your new diagnosis. You’ve begun to avoid them.

With the added responsibility of checking your blood sugar, keeping your mental health under control has become more critical than ever.

Every day, millions of Americans suffer with psychiatric issues. For people with diabetes, these issues are more common, and get in the way of proper healthcare.

What puts people at risk for mental illness? For the general population, risk factors fall into three categories: inherited traits (like a family history of alcoholism), environmental exposures before birth (like virus or toxin exposure in the womb), or environmental exposures after birth (like domestic violence, emotional, sexual or physical abuse during childhood). For those of us living with diabetes, the disease itself is a fourth risk factor for mental illness.

Diabetes has both physiological and emotional links to your mental state. Children with Type 1 diabetes are prone to physical damage to various regions of the brain, impairing attention, processing, long-term memory, and executive skills. Individuals with Type 2 diabetes (generally adults with fully developed brains) are more prone to depression and anxiety brought on by out-of-control blood sugar levels and the trauma of diagnosis.

When it comes to addressing the dual challenge of diabetes and mental health problems, we’ve made strides. Researchers have a good sense of why psychiatric illnesses hit the diabetic population harder than the general one. In this eight-part blog series, I’ll examine some of the most common psychological disorders I’ve encountered with my patients—and discuss how they interact with diabetes, and what you can do to alleviate them.

Learning to identify and address your mental health issues is essential to managing your diabetes. Is your psychological disorder interfering with your diabetes care? Or have you and your healthcare providers developed a system that works? Share your experience with us in the comments section!

Go to Part 2

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