For people with diabetes, managing their emotional health can be as important as keeping their blood sugar under control. The condition requires constant attention, and that can trigger feelings of stress and anxiety.

Studies have shown that diabetics are much more likely to have an anxiety disorder or depression. They may neglect their diet, stop monitoring glucose levels, or revert to unhealthy habits.

People who are experiencing the emotional burden of having diabetes feel drained mentally and physically on a daily basis; they are angry, scared, and/or depressed when they think about diabetes; and they feel that diabetes controls their lives.

They are also likely to express concern that they will end up with serious long-term complications and to feel overwhelmed by the demands of living with diabetes.

How does one  know if a diabetic is suffering from stress or anxiety?


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There are different situations. It might be someone who is not compliant with their self-care and isn’t checking their blood sugar regularly or taking their medications as prescribed. Their doctor notices this and sees their A1C [hemoglobin test] levels are up and there are problems.

It might be a patient who is severely depressed and openly talking about their level of sadness and that they’ve given up hope. Their diabetes is affecting them socially and putting a strain on their relationships or marriage.

Sometimes diabetics are good at hiding these feelings. It’s important that doctors ask questions and probe beyond how their medical care is going. A lot of patients are reluctant to talk about their feelings unless asked. When a doctor is willing to ask questions above and beyond whether or not they’re checking their blood sugar, the person is more willing to talk.
It can also create anxiety in that people worry about how they’re going to talk about their disease to other people, and whether or not they’ll understand what they have to go through.

They also worry about how diabetes will affect how long they live, they worry about complications, whether or not they’ll go blind, if they’ll need a limb amputated. It creates a lot of stress and worry. Even if their diabetes is under control, it’s that “what if” factor.

Diabetes also has a big effect on interpersonal relationships. People who have these depression or anxiety problems and have a chronic illness tend to withdraw from others and isolate themselves.

The problem is a lot of depressed diabetic patients put loved ones off.

Family members must not give up—the diabetic may not respond after the first or fifth time, but maybe after the twentieth time. They at least have to leave the door open.

How do you help someone diagnosed with diabetes cope with the pressures of constant self-care?

It’s a big struggle. People live their lives and have a certain way of living it and have certain habits and routines. Those things are very hard to break. When you get diagnosed with diabetes, you don’t have to totally break them. But now you have to fit in something else throughout the day every day for the rest of your life.

This involves checking your blood sugar, taking your medication, watching what you eat, doing some kind of physical activity, following up with your doctor.

Some people decide their diabetes care either doesn’t fit into their routine or it falls short on their priority list. Most people will list their job and their family and other things way above diabetes care on their priority list.

Diabetics must make the connection that if they don’t take care of themselves and don’t manage the disease properly, then they’re not going to be around to have a job or spend time with their family.

There needs to be more of a focus on mental health in caring for people with diabetes

When the emphasis is just on the physical – that my body isn’t performing the way that it should – that’s difficult for some people. It’s helping to change their thinking and have them realize that while they may not have control over the way their body uses insulin, they can at least control how they feel about it.

Everyday life, even without diabetes, is tough enough. When you add diabetes that requires so much of someone every single day, it creates an extra burden of stress. Sometimes people don’t feel like they have an avenue of escape. It’s important they have something they can find joy or comfort in.


Acceptance is often the last phase of psychological distress that is associated with diabetes. The diabetic will eventually come to terms with their disease.

They will realize that they have to make healthy lifestyle changes in order to lead a full and productive life.

Knowing that they can change the way they eat and take care of themselves will help them live longer and be less likely to encounter diabetes-related health problems.

If you have any suggestions on how to improve mental health or any information or questions or comments you would like to make on the topics discussed in this post.

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