Psychological Effects Of Diabetes

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Statistics indicate that nearly 30 million people in the United States live with a form of diabetes. From the time of receiving the diagnosis to having to live an altered lifestyle due to the chronic illness, individuals understandably experience common types of emotional and psychological effects.


For some people, receiving the news that they have diabetes may be hard to process and could lead to denial. The knowledge that the condition is incurable, requires specific lifestyle changes and must be carefully managed leaves some so devastated that they refuse to accept the diagnosis. Having to avoid certain foods, stick to strict dietary regimens, routinely monitor blood sugar and depend on oral medications or injections for survival may also be overwhelming or completely unacceptable. If patients remain in denial, health deteriorates from a lack of willingness to comply with self-care requirements.


A lack of education and understanding of the disease process may cause fear of the unknown. Others may have heard horror stories of complications that can arise when diabetes is not managed properly. Some might also be fearful that they will not be able to adequately care for themselves in lieu of the changes that must take place. Patients might also be fearful that the diagnosis will prevent them from enjoying a lengthy productive life.


When faced with a condition that threatens an individual's way of life as they know it, many become angry. Especially if not having a genetic predisposition, they may feel unjustly targeted by fate. Anger might also surface in view of the fact that the disease process not only poses a threat to one's health and well-being but additionally carries the risk of various dangers ranging from medication reactions to serious physiological complications. Medication changes, dosage alterations and seemingly uncontrolled blood sugar combined with other aspects of the disorder often leave patients with a feeling that diabetes controls their life, which also can lead to anger.


People diagnosed with chronic illness commonly experience depression. The daily management requirements, feeling set apart from healthy family and friends along with enduring possible setbacks or complications may all contribute to depression.

Diabetes Distress

Physicians who see and treat many diabetic patients over years of time noticed that up to half of diabetic patients complain of symptoms that do not fit typical clinical depression. They continually experience concern, worry, frustration and burnout. Dr. Lawrence Fisher from the Diabetes Center of the University California in San Francisco explains that diabetes distress is a real psychological condition that manifests with a combination of anxiety, depression and stress. In addition to daily maintenance schedules, the disorder may occur secondary to feeling inadequately medically treated, experiencing ineffective communication with healthcare providers or knowing that diabetes presents the possibility of suffering from eventual declining health.

Cite this page: N., Sam M.S., "Psychological Effects Of Diabetes," in, January 9, 2016, (accessed August 7, 2022).