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Diabetes and Mental Health | Living with Diabetes

mental health and diabetes

If you have diabetes, your physical well-being isn’t the only thing worth prioritizing. Along with that, you’ll want to take care of your mental health.

halle elbling - cdces - advanced-diabetes-supply

Written by: ADS Staff

Clinically Reviewed by: Halle Elbling, MS, RDN, CDCES

The body, mind connection is a very important relationship to foster. Many people consider physical and mental health as distinct, but for those managing diabetes, these aspects are deeply intertwined. When the process of diabetes management leaves you feeling worried, angry, overwhelmed, or drained, your physical well-being could end up having serious effects on your mental health. 

As a person with diabetes, you may encounter anxiety/depression symptoms or start to suffer from diabetes-specific issues like diabetes distress and diabulimia. Fortunately, you won’t have to deal with these problems by yourself. This is Advanced Diabetes Supply’s complete guide to the mental illnesses commonly linked to diabetes—and tips on getting these conditions under control.

Table of Contents

Understanding the Diabetes / Mental Health Connection

Be Aware of These Mental Health Issues

Ways to Improve Your Well Being

Simplify Diabetes Management

Understanding the Diabetes/Mental Health Connection

Dealing with a diabetes diagnosis isn’t easy. In order to successfully manage this condition, you’ll need to take on several new daily responsibilities, such as tracking your glucose levels and keeping up on insulin doses. You might also have to make various lifestyle changes, such as changing your diet and getting more exercise.

Of course, dealing with all of these changes (as well as the uncertainty associated with diabetes) can easily affect your state of mind. Because of that, you’ll need to be on the lookout for common mental illnesses like anxiety and depression—as well as a few mental health issues seen exclusively in individuals living with diabetes.

Living with Diabetes? Be Aware of These Mental Health Issues

Some mental health conditions that are all too common among people with diabetes include:

Diabetes Distress

If you’ve had diabetes for long enough, you know how much time and effort it takes to live with this disease. But even if you try your hardest to keep your diabetes under control, you still might not see the results you’re hoping for. Between that and the everyday demands associated with diabetes management, it’s no wonder why people with diabetes often feel worried, frustrated, hopeless, or even tired.

Collectively, these negative feelings are known as “diabetes distress.” Even though it might not seem like a major issue on its own, unchecked diabetes distress can eventually lead to problems like depression and burnout.


While insulin does not cause weight gain on its own, people with type 1 diabetes may rapidly lose weight before getting diagnosed with diabetes. This happens because their bodies cannot access glucose as an energy source. They have to break down muscle and fat for energy instead of being able to use glucose from the food they eat. When individuals with type 1 diabetes start using insulin to treat their diabetes, and once again can store or use energy from glucose—they might gain some weight as a result.

Diabulimia, which is also known as “eating disorder-diabetes mellitus type 1” (or “ED-DMT1” for short), occurs when people with type 1 diabetes deliberately withhold or reduce their insulin amounts to lose weight. Since people with type 1 diabetes rely on insulin to live, this condition can lead to serious consequences—including diabetic ketoacidosis, other severe diabetes complications, and death.


How to Manage Stress with Diabetes

People with diabetes are twice as likely as members of the general population to experience depression.

As changing levels of hormones and blood glucose can affect the emotions, behaviors, and thoughts of people with diabetes, identifying depression with diabetes isn’t always easy. If you have diabetes, contact a mental health professional if you experience at least some of the following depression symptoms for roughly two weeks:

  • Excessive anxiety
  • Difficulties sleeping/getting out of bed
  • Eating too much or not enough
  • Thoughts of suicide or worthlessness
  • Concentration issues
  • Restlessness


A certain amount of emotional and physical stress is normal in life, but this stress can quickly get out of hand. When that happens, you could find yourself faced with abnormally high levels of anxiety—the feelings of fear and worry often caused by stressors.

Anyone can experience anxiety, but US adults with diabetes are 20 percent more likely to deal with this issue than other Americans. As you might expect, this is largely due to the mental toll that comes with managing this chronic disease. If you are living with diabetes, finding a way to manage stress and anxiety is essential—stress hormones can make it even more difficult for insulin to function effectively.

Identifying Mental Health Problems in Diabetes Patients

While mental health issues are common among people with diabetes, they aren’t detected as often as you might think. Instead, up to 45 percent of mental health problems go unnoticed in people living with diabetes. Meanwhile, just one third of people with mental health issues and diabetes get the diagnosis and treatment they need.

Because of that, your diabetes healthcare team should be fully aware of this risk and know how to take action. Ideally, you should get regular mental health screenings during your healthcare appointments. Along with that, the American Diabetes Association’s Standards of Care state that diabetes healthcare teams should include mental health professionals who understand the specific needs of individuals with diabetes.

Ways to Improve Your Well-Being

When you suspect you have one of the mental health conditions listed above, be sure to let your healthcare team know. They may suggest a treatment plan including steps such as:



If you’re living with mental health conditions (or even if you aren’t), therapy can help. By participating in talk therapy, you’ll have a chance to speak with professionals about the issues you face and explore potential solutions in a safe environment. Some of today’s most popular forms of therapy include cognitive-behavioral therapy, dialectical-behavioral therapy, and family therapy.


Along with therapy, you may want to use medications as part of your mental health management strategy. Before doing so, you’ll need to talk to your mental healthcare provider about your family’s mental health history and your diabetes diagnosis.

It’s also worth noting that medications used for mental health issues could directly affect your diabetes management strategy.  Many drugs used for the treatment of anxiety and depression can make it harder for people to manage their blood sugar. Medications can change the way the body processes glucose and how it responds to insulin. A doctor may recommend stopping or reducing these medications if a person’s blood sugar levels become too high.

Stress Management

In addition to potentially increasing your blood sugar, high levels of stress can make it hard to follow your diabetes management strategy. Because of that, it’s wise to log your stress levels whenever you check your blood glucose. If you spot a pattern in this data, you’ll find it easier to identify your warning signs for stress and take action accordingly.

Simplify Diabetes Management With ADS

There’s no denying that life with diabetes can be difficult—or that the challenges associated with diabetes management can lead to anxiety, depression, or burnout. However, getting the treatment you need for these mental health problems can help you live a healthier and more fulfilling life.

Though some level of diabetes-related stress is unavoidable, cutting-edge diabetes management technologies such as continuous glucose monitors and automated insulin pumps can certainly make it easier to live with this disease. But before you order these products or any other diabetes supplies you need, you’ll want to find a diabetes supply company you can trust. ADS stands apart from the competition by providing the industry’s best turnaround times and customer service—explore our complete selection of products today!