Diabetes and Mood Disorders

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People today are familiar with diabetes, albeit broadly, and that it mainly consists of type 1 and type 2. That is merely the tip of the iceberg. Apart from it taking a serious toll on physical health, this disorder also can affect your emotions, which in turn can wreak havoc on your diabetes control. Extremes in blood-sugar levels can cause significant mood changes, and research suggests that frequent changes in blood-sugar levels also can affect mood and quality of life for those with diabetes. This includes depression due to diabetes and diabetic mood swings. Let’s learn more about this.


Evidence from the diabetes studies across the world also suggests that diabetes can disturb your mental health. It is known to be associated with various mood disorders given below.

  1. Depression

Approximately 25% of Indian diabetics are found to have depression due to diabetes. Type II diabetics are up to 2 times more prone to develop major depression than general population. Depression due to diabetes further impacts its complications by causing alterations in hormones and glucose transport mechanism as well as increased activation of immune-inflammatory pathway.

  1. Anxiety

Diabetics are over three times at higher risk for anxiety than the general population. Long term stress related to the presence of chronic illness like diabetes or short term stress due to self-care activities, needle phobia or fear of hypoglycaemia can predispose them to acute or chronic anxiety disorder. Anxiety in diabetics can be associated with poor sugar control.

  1. Delirium

This is a condition characterized by altered sensorium or confusion and is linked to the acute episodes of hypoglycaemia or diabetic ketoacidosis.

  1. Cognitive dysfunction

People with diabetes are at about one and a half times higher risk of decline in cognitive (ability to think) function compared to non-diabetics, while the functions affected may differ between type I and type II diabetes.

Key risk factors for diabetes effects on cognition are elevated glucose levels for long periods, changes in the blood vessels, causing retinopathy, nephropathy and formation of fatty deposits on artery lining.


Being a chronic disease, diabetes also affects your mental health causing mood disorders such as depression, anxiety or decline in cognitive abilities. If you notice any of the following symptoms, you might consider further evaluation of the mood disorder:

  1. Depression Entails feeling:
    • Sad, worried or empty
    • Hopeless, guilty, worthless or helpless
    • Irritable or restless or tired all the time
    • Thoughts of death and suicide
    • Confused or finding it hard to concentrate or remember details, or make decisions
    • Losing interest in previously interesting activities or hobbies, including sex
    • Sleeping too much or not at all
    • Eating too much or not at all
    • Pains, headaches, cramps or digestive problems that sustain despite treatment
  2. Anxiety is characterized by
    • Fast heart beat or being tense
    • Heavy sweating
    • Shortness of breath
    • Stomach ache or diarrhoea
    • Muscle tension causing pains
    • Headache
    • Fatigue
    • Irritability or impatience or difficulty concentrating
    • Trouble sleeping

As some of the clinical features of anxiety overlap with those of hypoglycaemia, the patient may fail to perceive the hypoglycaemic episode or confuse it with an anxiety episode, and delay the treatment.


People with diabetes related mood disorders:

  1. Should avoid getting anxious or stressful by following some relaxation methods such as breathing exercises, yoga, tai chi, meditation, self-hypnosis
  2. Should suppress their decline in cognitive function by intensive glycaemic control right from an initial stage, along with taking lifestyle improvements through proper diet, exercise, no smoking and stress reduction programs.

For a complete evaluation and medical therapy to manage your mood disorders, consult your doctor.

We would love to understand more about your concerns and experiences with diabetes. Do feel free to call us at our toll no or visit any of our diabetes care centers located near you