Psychological effects of diabetes

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In the United States alone, 29.1 million people live with diabetes. Among them, 27.8 percent are still undiagnosed. Still, both portions of the affected population suffer from mental health effects due to their illness. How can that undiagnosed population suffer from side effects of diabetes when they don’t know they have it? This suggests that the psychological impacts diabetes poses in a person’s life often has more to do with the health issues the illnesses causes than the diagnosis itself or required treatments.

While the need for regulated injections of insulin and strict dietary regimens alongside hefty doses of medication could be bothersome to just about anyone, diabetes causes many effects on its own that have nothing to do with the how treatment impacts a person’s life. For instance, in many cases undiagnosed diabetes is what causes infertility for many couples who struggle to get pregnant. This stressful situation in a couple’s life is notable for leading to depression.

Side Effects

Diabetes can also cause vision disturbances; cataracts and glaucoma are particularly problematic. Some of them may be permanent. The illness can lead to kidney failure and a lot of problems for the nervous system. Nerve damage is common in people with diabetes. This is particularly likely in the extremities. Damaged blood vessels also stem from uncontrolled diabetes quite often. People with diabetes also frequently suffer from poor oral health. Yeast infections are also a common side effect of diabetes, and this often impairs the diabetic person’s ability to have a thriving sex life, especially when their diabetes in uncontrolled.

A Depressed Mood

The lifestyle that diabetes imposes on the affected patient is enough to let depression develop all on its own. Being in poor health often contributes to depression. Among people with diabetes, 27 percent are diagnosed with major depression disorder. The link between physical and mental health is strong. Usually, when one is optimal, so is the other, and vice versa. People with diabetes may find it difficult to adjust to the treatment regimens required for their illness. Those with type 2 are often put on strict diets that don’t allow any room for error. That means no more late-night binges on ice cream of bags of potato chips for lunch. Those may seem like trivial complaints to an outsider, but to the individual who uses those foods to cope with their depression, it’s an awfully hard vice to give up.


Diabetes is also a strong precursor for anxiety. This mental health problem affects different people in very different ways. Some people feel anxiety from a nausea pit in their stomach. Others get cold sweats. Some people even break out into hives. Regardless, anxiety means there will be incessant worry that is tremendously difficult to resolve and often has no solid basis in reality. The diabetic patient worries that their illness will get worse or begin to affect other realms of their physical health. They worry that it could be what takes their life someday — perhaps someday too soon. These are worthwhile concerns, but allowing them to take over one’s mental faculties so much that they can’t accomplish anything else is troublesome.

Cite this page: Danielle Bosley, "Psychological effects of diabetes," in, January 30, 2017, (accessed August 11, 2022).