More than 30 million Americans have diabetes, and about 1.5 million new cases are diagnosed every year. Diabetes basically means having too much glucose in the blood. Glucose fuels your brain and muscles, but an excess of it can lead to serious health problems.
Diabetes not only affects your body, it also affects your mind and mood. Here’s why, and what you can to do maintain positive mental health with diabetes.
Coping with a Diagnosis
A new diagnosis for diabetes, like any unexpected medical diagnosis, can be difficult to accept. It can add a big emotional weight. Some doctors see their patients go through a grieving period as they struggle to reconcile diabetes with their lifestyle.
Diabetics must learn a new routine of treatment and monitoring that takes some adjustment.
The transition to 24/7 life with diabetes can be stressful and affect your mood. If you feel extreme mood swings, consult with your doctor right away.
Blood Sugar Fluctuations
Fluctuations in your blood sugar, whether too high or too low, can be accompanied by mood swings as your body tries to cope.
Too high. When blood sugar is too high, you may feel foggy-headed, faint, thirsty, or tired. It might not be your first thought that this is caused by your diabetes; it could just feel like a crabby mood. This is why it’s important to track your blood sugar.
Too low. Low blood sugar can be accompanied by feelings of being mixed up, confused, unhappy, hungry, angry, irritable, shaky, or exhausted. Treat low blood sugar immediately using the methods suggested by your doctor.
The Depression Connection
Sometimes it’s not just “a bad mood,” but clinical depression. In fact, people with diabetes have an increased risk of developing depression.
Although the exact link isn’t clearly understood, it’s important to seek help if you are diabetic and feel hopeless, lethargic, disinterested in normal life events, or suicidal.
What Can You Do?
Diabetes doesn’t have to control your life. The Diabetes Council, an organization that is dedicated to helping people manage diabetes, recommends these methods of coping with mood swings and emotions.
- Establish clear goals. Work with your doctor to set up a monitoring plan, and set a goal for yourself that helps you feel in control of your diabetes.
- Keep appointments. Even when you feel really good or really bad, keep appointments with your doctor. Consistent medical tracking is essential.
- Set reminders. If you struggle to take your medication on time, set a reminder with an alarm clock or cell phone. This reduces the stress of timing.
- Ask for help. Don’t be afraid to admit that you are frustrated - to your spouse, friends, or doctor. Develop a support system of people who will give you a boost during difficult times. Consider joining an online support group.
- Develop a meal plan. Some foods, especially those high in carbohydrates, can affect your mood. Identifying your particular food triggers can help you manage your emotions.