Diabetes and Depression

Diabetes and Depression

Studies have shown that people living with diabetes have a greater risk for depression.

Although it is unclear exactly why that is, we do know that there can be a certain level of stress that comes with the daily management of a chronic disease. Sometimes this can even make a person feel like they are alone or not able to enjoy activities they normally would have.

It is perfectly normal to feel angry or frustrated when you do not understand why things do not always go as you think they should. Blood glucose levels do not always seem logical or make sense.

Depression can be a slippery slope when dealing with diabetes. It can interfere with your ability or desire to carry out diabetes self-care behaviors. Checking blood glucose levels, taking medications, making healthy food choices and staying active can fall by the wayside when someone is feeling sad and tired most of the time.

Signs of depression

  • Loss of pleasure; no interest in doing things that you normally enjoy
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Changes in appetite
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Lack of energy
  • Nervousness; feeling like you cannot sit still
  • Guilt or feeling like you worry about everything
  • Morning sadness
  • Suicidal thoughts

Getting help

If you are feeling some of these symptoms, talk them over with your health care provider.

There may be physical causes of your depressed feelings. Sometimes poorly controlled diabetes can cause tiredness, fatigue and even changes in sleep and attitude. Having blood glucose levels that are fluctuating—all over the place—can lead to hunger, disturbed sleep, tiredness and even a feeling of anxiety.

Other physical causes of depression can include:

  • Drug or alcohol abuse
  • Thyroid irregularities
  • Medication side-effects

Once you and your health care provider have ruled out physical causes for depression, your provider may talk with you about seeing a behavioral health professional, or counselor. Treatment options for depression include counseling and/or antidepressant medications. If you and your health care provider decide that antidepressant medication is the best option, you will want to be sure to understand possible side effects of the chosen medication, including how it may affect your blood glucose levels and your weight.

Most importantly, if you have symptoms of depression, don’t wait—talk to your health care provider.

For more information about managing your diabetes, contact the Bruce Chertow Diabetes Center at Marshall Internal Medicine at 304-691-1000.


Tracy Hawthorne, RD, LD, CDE

Tracy is a registered dietitian and program coordinator for the Chertow Diabetes Center at the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine. A certified diabetes educator, she focuses on helping individuals living with diabetes better understand how to make healthier life choices.