HOW DIABETES IMPACTS YOUR MENTAL HEALTH
Updated: Feb 19
When I talk about my everyday life with type 1 diabetes and about all the additional things I have to watch out for, most people are quite surprised about how much struggle a chronic condition comes along with. Managing a chronic disease 24/7 can take its toll on a patient's mental health and for a long time I didn't know how diabetes and mental health are related. However, a 2010 study showed that people with diagnosed diabetes are about twice as likely as people without diabetes to have depression, anxiety and serious
psychological distress (SPD).
This study also showed that among U.S. adults with diagnosed diabetes and SPD, about 45% received no treatment for any mental health problems.
It’s not a secret that diabetics (all types!) have an have an increased risk for mental illnesses, because diabetes is so much more than just carb counting or taking injections. It affects your daily routine, but also your sleep and managing a chronic disease takes a lot of your energy. But when I think back to all the different doctors I’ve talked to, mental health has never really been a discussed topic. So I am wondering - why don’t we get the help we need? Why don’t doctors and nurses not even ask about mental health aspects? Why are so many people who speak up not taken seriously?
Anxiety and depression are two examples, but there are so many mental health problems related to diabetes that a lot of people don’t even know exist. Diabulimia for instance, an eating disorder mostly associated with type 1 diabetes, means that a person purposefully restricts insulin in order to lose weight. It’s a vicious circle, as diabetes affects your mental health and your mental health affects your diabetes and your blood glucose.
The mental health aspect of living with diabetes is so important and I want to thank everyone
who has the courage to speak up and talks about it - but I think it’s time for doctors to start talking about it as well.
And to everyone who struggles: you are not alone.
Greta Ehlers is a type one diabetic with a passion for classical music and writing. She founded her blog and Instagram account gretastypeone to raise awareness about type one diabetes and everyday life with a chronic condition. Greta is currently studying a master's degree in Strategic Communication at Lund University, Sweden.
Li, Chaoyang et al. (2010): Undertreatment of Mental Health Problems in Adults With
Diagnosed Diabetes and Serious Psychological Distress. Diabetes Care Vol. 33, Issue 5,pp. 1061–1064.
Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2858175/ .