Coping with the relentless physical effects of diabetes is demanding. And, unfortunately, diabetes’ psychological and emotional impact is still something of a taboo subject. Here are seven ways diabetes can affect mental health and wellbeing…

  1. Feeling unsupported

A survey of 2500 people with diabetes carried out by Diabetes UK found that there’s a need for much greater emotional and psychological support. Seven in ten of the people surveyed felt overwhelmed by the demands of the condition, and three-quarters of those feeling overwhelmed said it affected how they manage their diabetes. If that rings a bell, you’re clearly not alone. Find out about Diabetes UK’s Too Often Missing campaign and read the report and recommendations here.

  1. Diabetes burnout

Managing diabetes is an ongoing challenge and, for some, it can lead to a state of mental or physical exhaustion, known as ‘diabetes burnout.’ The signs of experiencing diabetes burnout can include a failure to keep on top of medication and monitoring, unhelpful eating choices and skipping clinic appointments. 

  1. Diabetes distress

The effort involved in managing symptoms day to day, and the associated worry, can cause what’s known as ‘diabetes distress’ – these negative thoughts and feeling can sometimes lead on to depression or anxiety. Diabetes distress can come and go – if you think it’s affecting you or someone close to you, you can find out more about its different aspects here.

  1. Anxiety

The effort involved in managing diabetes and fears about the possibility of future complications can cause anxiety to develop. This may, in turn, limit everyday activities, from leaving the house to meeting up with friends and participating in activities.

  1. Depression

Diabetes UK’s survey found that people with diabetes are twice as likely to experience depression. With the presence of a physical condition underlying, depression may continue for several years, making it particularly important to seek the right medical support and treatment.

  1. Diabetes-related fears

Phobic fears are more common in people with diabetes than the general population. Whether it’s agoraphobia, a phobia of needles or fear of hypoglycaemia, diabetes-related fears can start to take over, and this may mean that specialist help is needed. Fear of hypos can also extend to close friends and family. You can find some useful advice on managing hypoglycaemia fear here.

  1. Problems with eating

Having to manage food intake to help control diabetes can sometimes lead to issues with body image, weight and appearance. From there, unhealthy eating habits can progress into eating disorders – you can find help on that here.

Have you got any advice on seeking mental health support with diabetes? What has worked for you? Let us know if you have a story to share.

Medical information. This is provided for informational purposes only and is not meant to be a substitute for advice by a doctor or other qualified healthcare professional. Patients should not use the information on the Active Patients website for diagnosing a health or fitness problem or disease. Patients should always consult with a doctor or other health professional for medical advice or information about diagnosis and treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice because of something you have read on Active Patients.