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Mental Health Conditions That Exist With Diabetes

In an earlier post, I stated that many people with diabetes also suffer from depression, a very common mental health illness, and that number may be as high as 1 in 4 adults with diabetes and 27% in adults with type 2 diabetes. But depression is not the only mental health condition that may plague people with diabetes. Other conditions are:

Bipolar disease. This is a group of chronic psychiatric diseases that affect mood and energy levels. People with bipolar usually experience periods of mania (elevated mood) lasting at least 4 days and periods of depression lasting two weeks. These episodes must be sever enough to interfere with your normal everyday activities.

According to the National Library of Medicine (NIH), bipolar disease like depression is 3 times higher in people with type 2 diabetes than the general population, however, the NIH could give no clear explanation for this occurrence. Some medications such as antipsychotics, as well as lifestyle factors, are believed to play an important role.

Image by Sam Williams from Pixabay


Stress and anxiety go hand in hand. Stress may cause your palms to become sweaty, and your heart to beat faster and this can cause your blood sugar to go up. This stress can lead to anxiety, a feeling of dread, or apprehension. Dealing with a chronic illness like diabetes can bring on what is known as diabetes distress.

Anxiety is more than the normal nervousness you may feel about moving to a new city or starting a new job. Anxiety is a constant feeling of fear or unease that gets so bad it prevents you from doing things you normally enjoy. If this feeling persists for at least 6 months, you may have an anxiety disorder of which there are many types.

  • Panic disorder – experiencing sudden panic attacks
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder – irrational thoughts that lead you to perform the same task over and over
  • Phobia – fear of a specific situation, activity, or object. Some people may have a fear of open spaces.
  • Social anxiety – fear of being judged in social situations
  • Separation anxiety – fear of being away from home or loved ones

Research has found that individuals with diabetes are 20% more likely to be diagnosed with anxiety. Worry over managing their illness, weight, or diet, fear of developing other illnesses such as kidney or heart disease, and fear of needles can lead to anxiety.

Eating disorders

One of the major challenges diabetics have in managing their diabetes is what they should eat. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, eating disorders affect up to 20% of people with diabetes. However, the actual prevalence of eating disorders may be difficult to determine due to the guilt and shame that keep people from reporting these problems.

Eating disorders may range from severely restricting calories to overeating and even restricting insulin in an attempt to lose weight. The report goes on to state that people with type 2 diabetes may indulge in binge eating without purging (as in bulimia nervosa), and night eating syndrome — getting up during the night to eat. Binge eating has the potential to result in the development of type 2 diabetes.

Unfortunately, we live in a society where mental health is stigmatized, making it difficult to talk about it. However, if you have diabetes and experience mood swings, anxiety, stress, and difficulty in controlling your eating habits you should report this at your next doctor’s appointment. Some of these conditions, if not attended to promptly, can seriously impact your ability to manage your diabetes.

In my next post, I will go into more detail about mental health disorders and how you can cope with them. Meanwhile, I invite you to join my group over at Type 2 Diabetics Network where you can get more information and support to help you win this fight against diabetes.

A diagnosis of type 2 diabetes can send your life into a tailspin. It can leave you feeling alone and overwhelmed, but it doesn’t have to. Join my type 2 diabetes network group and get the help and support you need.