April 20, 2024

Managing Diabetes and Depression: Strategies for Your Mental Health

Both diabetes and depression can be difficult conditions to manage - and that’s especially true when you’re dealing with both at the same time. Get advice on how to cope from US MED. 


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Home / Living with Diabetes / Managing Diabetes and Depression: Strategies for Your Mental Health

For people with type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, or gestational diabetes, keeping up with the symptoms and complications of this disease can be exhausting. However, the impact diabetes can have on people’s lives often goes beyond its physical effects. If you’ve been asking yourself “can diabetes affect mental health?” the answer is a resounding “yes.”

Whether you haven’t noticed any mental health issues related to your diabetes diagnosis or you’ve been dealing with these problems for years, it’s crucial to take your mental health seriously. In this article, you’ll learn about the connection between diabetes and mental health – and how to take care of your mental well-being in the future.

What are the links between diabetes and mental health?

It’s no understatement to say that a diabetes diagnosis can change your life. To successfully manage diabetes, you’ll need to make lifestyle changes, take whatever medications your healthcare team prescribes, and pay close attention to your blood glucose levels. Since controlling diabetes involves a lot of time and effort, it’s not surprising that it can affect your state of mind.

The diabetes-mental health connection is easy to see, but there’s hard evidence backing it up. Here are a few statistics about mental health and diabetes:how to manage stress and high blood sugar

  • People with type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes have a heightened risk of anxiety, depression, and eating disorders.
  • As a person who has diabetes, your lifetime risk of depression is twice as high as the general population’s risk.
  • People living with type 1 diabetes are twice as likely to experience disordered eating.

Mental health conditions that affect diabetes care

While there’s no shortage of mental health conditions that can affect people with diabetes, three of the most prominent conditions in this population include:

Diabetes and depression

Right now, we don’t know precisely how diabetes and depression are linked. However, we can safely say that stress from diabetes management, symptoms, and complications can contribute to symptoms of depression. In turn, the unhealthy eating habits, reduced physical activity, and “brain fog” associated with depression can make it more difficult for people to manage diabetes.

Look out for these depression symptoms 

If you think you might have depression, keep an eye out for symptoms such as: 

  • Reduced or excessive sleep 
  • Overeating or a loss of appetite 
  • Difficulty concentrating 
  • Feelings of hopelessness, anxiety, guilt, or irritability 
  • Unexplained aches/pains, headaches, digestive issues, or cramps 
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Do any of these symptoms sound familiar? If so, reach out to your healthcare team as soon as possible. 

Diabetes and anxiety

Depression isn’t the only mental health condition people with diabetes need to look out for. There’s also a connection between diabetes and anxiety – the diabetes-related factors listed above can also cause anxiety to develop or worsen in people with this disease. Along with that, there isn’t a single form of anxiety people with diabetes should be aware of. Diabetes can be connected to anything from generalized anxiety disorder to more “specialized” conditions like agoraphobia, post-traumatic stress disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

No matter what form of anxiety you think you might have, be aware of anxiety symptoms such as:diabetes-and-depression-how-to-manage-your-mental-health

  • A sense of tension, restlessness, or nervousness
  • An elevated heart rate
  • Hyperventilation (unusually rapid breathing)
  • Trouble thinking about anything other than the source of worry
  • Gastrointestinal or digestive issues
  • Sleeping problems
  • Muscle twitches or trembling

Like depression symptoms, tell your healthcare team once you spot any signs of anxiety.

Diabetes distress

Diabetes distress is a specific mental health condition affecting between 33 to 50 percent of people with diabetes. It often arises when individuals feel overwhelmed by the demands of managing their condition, which can lead to neglecting important health tasks like checking blood glucose levels or attending doctor’s appointments.

Unlike general anxiety and depression, diabetes distress does not typically respond to medication. Instead, managing this condition effectively involves setting realistic, manageable goals for diabetes care, seeking support from mental health counselors or diabetes educators, joining support groups, and possibly consulting with an endocrinologist.

Managing mental health conditions and diabetes 

Managing mental health issues, including anxiety and depression, alongside diabetes is crucial for overall well-being. While diabetes distress may require a more tailored approach focusing on specific diabetes management support, depression and anxiety are often effectively treated with a combination of therapy and medication:

Therapy

Engaging with professional therapists can help address and manage sources of stress related to diabetes and other areas of life. Techniques such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, family therapy, or dialectical-behavioral therapy may be beneficial.

Medication

For conditions like depression and generalized anxiety, medications alongside therapy might be helpful. It’s important to coordinate with healthcare providers to ensure these medications do not interfere with diabetes management. Some antidepressants may even aid in blood sugar control.

Stress management

Developing skills in stress management can significantly impact the control of diabetes by identifying how emotional stress affects blood glucose levels. Recognizing stress patterns and warning signs can lead to more effective coping strategies.

Mental health and diabetes support

No one can eliminate stressors from their everyday life, and that certainly includes people with diabetes. But with the support provided by your diabetes healthcare team and mental health professionals, you can create a mental health management plan that’s right for you.

Another way to cut down on diabetes-related stress is by simplifying the process of ordering diabetes supplies. US MED has 20-plus years of experience and accreditations from the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, the Utilization Review Accreditation Commission, and the Accreditation Commission for Healthcare. Choose us for quick, reliable delivery of continuous glucose monitors, diabetes testing supplies, insulin pumps, and many other products!

 

Written by: US MED Staff

Shirley DeLeon Certified Diabetes Care & Education Specialist Clinically Reviewed by: Shirley DeLeon, RD, CDCES

Shirley DeLeon Certified Diabetes Care & Education Specialist

Medical Review by Shirley DeLeon, Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist

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