Depression and Diabetes

Everyone feels down occasionally. But when you have a chronic disease, it's easy to slide into feeling sad and hopeless for weeks or even months. In fact, studies show that people who have diabetes have a greater risk of depression than people who don't have diabetes.

Poor diabetes control can cause symptoms similar to those of depression. Low blood glucose can cause you to feel tired, anxious or hungry. Low blood glucose at night can disturb sleep. In contrast, high blood glucose can cause you to wake up during the night to urinate, disturbing your sleep. Sometimes medications, thyroid problems, or alcohol or drug abuse combined with diabetes can cause depression.


If you've been feeling any of these symptoms of depression for more than two weeks, talk with your doctor:

  • sleeping too much or too little, or inability to stay asleep
  • overeating or loss of appetite
  • loss of pleasure in things or people you used to find enjoyable
  • feeling tired
  • trouble concentrating
  • nervousness or irritability
  • avoiding others
  • feeling sad
  • feeling guilty or worthless
  • thoughts about harming or killing yourself

If you have a plan to kill yourself, or are about to, call 911 or the local emergency number in your area.

Your Feelings About Your Diabetes

Denial is when you say, "It couldn't be me. I couldn't have diabetes. There must be some mistake." Denial is a common — and even healthy — first reaction to the diagnosis of diabetes. In fact, denial can help keep you from feeling overwhelmed. It allows you to accept the news a little at a time, when you're ready. Long-term denial, though, can be a problem and get in the way of managing your diabetes.

Anger is also a common and perfectly natural reaction to bad news. You may feel that life is unfair. The potential for diabetes complications can make you feel unsafe and afraid. When we feel afraid, we may react with anger. However, when anger gets out of control, it can hurt your ability to cope with and manage your diabetes.

Written by Bobbie Hasselbring

Reviewed by Beth Seltzer, MD

Last updated June 2008