October 2020

The Emotional Side of Diabetes

How are you? Your response could help you manage diabetes. That’s because how you feel mentally can impact your health as much as how you feel physically. If your answer (or first thought) is often angry or sad, stop and take a moment to consider why, and how it might be affecting you. Being honest with yourself and your healthcare team is important.

Anger is OK, to a point

Common after an initial diagnosis, anger and thoughts like “why me” can pop up anytime. In the short term, take a drink of water and a deep breath (or two). But don’t just shut it down. Take time to figure out what’s causing it. If you need help, talk with your healthcare provider, a diabetes educator, or a counselor who specializes in chronic health conditions. Leaving anger unresolved can lead to stress that causes fluctuations in your blood sugar levels, as well as depression.

Depression is more than sad

People with diabetes are 2 to 3 times more likely to have depression than those without diabetes. This illness can affect sleep patterns and make it difficult to enjoy activities and do many tasks at work and home, including manage diabetes. Talk with your provider about feelings of sadness and emptiness. If you have depression, your provider may recommend therapy, medicine, or both. The American Diabetes Association has more information about signs of depression.

Denial can put you at risk

Find yourself minimizing diabetes or its care as “no big deal”? Proceed with caution. Anything that keeps you from following your treatment plan ups your risk for complications like nerve damage and heart disease. Reach out to your provider or diabetes educator for help if you find yourself:

  • Skipping blood sugar checks or healthcare visits

  • Reverting back to unhealthy habits

  • Ignoring a sore that won’t heal

Remember, whatever emotions you have are OK as long as you take care of yourself. But you don’t have to do it alone. Along with your healthcare team, family, friends, and support groups can help you work through the emotional side of diabetes care.




Online Medical Reviewer: Brian McDonough, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Ray Turley, BSN, MSN
Date Last Reviewed: 9/1/2020
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