The initial diagnosis of diabetes can come as a shock.
Common feelings may include disbelief, sadness, anger, fear, or self-blame.
These feelings usually ease over time as you adjust to life with diabetes.
Sometimes however, these feelings don’t easily go away.
Emotional wellbeing is an essential part of living a healthy life and managing diabetes.
The demands of managing diabetes can impact on your emotional state, which may lead to diabetes distress, anxiety or depression.
First and foremost, it is important to know you are not alone.
There is a dedicated network of help and support available to you, including your own healthcare team.
Diabetes not only impacts people physically, but also emotionally and mentally.
One in every 5 Australian adults will experience a mental illness each year.
The risk of depression is double in people with diabetes.
Teenagers and the elderly with diabetes are at a higher risk of developing depression.
Depression is a serious condition that affects more than your physical and mental health. It can result in an inability to enjoy life and carry out everyday activities.
Fact sheet: Diabetes and Depression
Diabetes distress is the emotional burden of living with and managing diabetes.
The everyday demands of living with diabetes may feel overwhelming.
You may feel frustrated with the sometimes unpredictable ‘ups and downs’ of blood glucose levels. You may feel guilty or have a sense of failing with your diabetes management. Or you may be worried about your risk of long-term complications.
Fact sheet: Diabetes Distress
Anxiety occurs when a person experiences an excessive amount of fear in anticipation of something bad happening.
Some level of anxiety is normal in everyday life. However it may become a serious problem when these feelings last for a long time – that is, at least two weeks or more – and impact in a negative way on daily life.
Fact sheet: Diabetes and Anxiety
Stress is experienced by everyone at some stage and we all react in different ways.
It is important to recognise that stress can have a direct effect on blood glucose levels, which may cause them to rise. This is due to the release of stress hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline.
The potential impact of stress depends on the individual as we all deal with stress in different ways.
What you can do
Whether you are newly diagnosed with diabetes or have been diagnosed for some time, it’s important to consider your emotional wellbeing.
Check your emotional health today
- Knowledge is power! Learning about diabetes and how to effectively manage it may increase your confidence – and reduce some of the stress associated with managing diabetes.
- Understand that one size doesn’t necessarily fit all when you live with diabetes. Each person will have individual targets and goals tailored to their own needs.
- Don’t think of blood glucose levels as ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Use blood glucose results as a tool to help you make decisions about your diabetes management.
- Talk to supportive family or friends – particularly when you feel overwhelmed.
- Exercise can improve your physical and emotional health. Find an exercise you enjoy and make it part of your everyday life.
- Being involved in support groups, social activities, group education sessions and online forums can help you feel connected. Sharing experiences with others who have similar experiences may be helpful.
- Relaxation techniques such as meditation, listening to music, playing an instrument, yoga, tai chi or gardening can help to reduce stress and assist you to practice mindfulness.
- Discuss any areas of diabetes self-management that you find challenging with your health professional.
- Set small, achievable and realistic goals to overcome any barriers to your self-management.
- A healthy diet can also assist with emotional wellbeing and the management of diabetes.
Link to Australian Guide to Healthy Eating
- Do not feel guilty if your blood glucose levels are out of your target range. Many factors impact on blood glucose levels and some of these are out of your control. Use your knowledge and experience to determine what has impacted on your blood glucose levels and implement strategies to deal with this.
- Find a health professional who you can work effectively with.
- Have realistic expectations about your diabetes care.
Where to get help
Emotional health helplines and services
For young people under 18 years
Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS)
- CAMHS Eastern Region (Paradise): 8207 8999
- CAMHS Western Region (Port Adelaide): 8341 1222
- CAMHS Northern Region (Elizabeth): 1300 198 204
- CAMHS Southern Region (Flinders Service, Bedford Park): 8204 5412
- CAMHS Southern Region (Marion, Oaklands Park): 7425 8600
- Onkaparinga Regional Service (Morphett Vale): 8326 1234