Mental Health: Living with Type 1
People with type 1 diabetes are at a heightened risk for mental health issues, including diabetes distress, depression, anxiety, and disordered eating. However, these are all treatable disorders. It is important to pay attention to your feelings about having diabetes or taking care of someone who has diabetes. Talk to your physician, or your diabetes educator, or anyone you feel comfortable with on your diabetes care team. They can help you connect to mental health care, whether it is with a counselor, a therapist, a psychiatrist, or a social worker. Having support to live with diabetes is essential. Sometimes talking to a friend with diabetes can also be helpful.
Emotional support, while not often initially considered, plays a key role in diabetes care. Connecting with other people living with diabetes that understand the daily grind of counting carbohydrates, testing blood glucose multiple times each day and dealing with the various highs and lows (both physical and emotional) of life with diabetes can make all the difference.
Talking with people who "get it" is important, and our Online Community offers a place for people living with and affected by diabetes to find that support. Our Family Link program connects parents of children with type 1 diabetes.
Taking care of your mental health
Tracking blood glucose levels, dosing insulins, planning your meals, and taking care of your physical needs are vital. It’s a lot of work and it can be emotionally draining. It is normal to be bummed out or tired of managing diabetes. It is a sign of strength to ask for help.
Maintaining your mental and emotional health is necessary for good diabetes management. Feeling physically good is more than half the battle—feeling good about yourself allows you to take care of yourself.
Deal with natural emotions like stress, sadness, anger, and denial before they lead to depression.
Visit ADA's Mental Health Provider Directory.
Featured book: Diabetes Burnout: What to Do When You Can't Take It Anymore is an interactive book that addresses the emotional issues that contribute to poor glycemic control and provides guidance to overcoming the barriers to good self-care.
- Anger—Diabetes is the perfect breeding ground for anger.
- Denial—Denial is that voice inside repeating: "Not me." Most people go through this when first diagnosed.
- Depression—Studies show that people with diabetes have a greater risk of depression than people without diabetes.
Spotting depression is the first step. Getting help is the second.
If you have been feeling really sad, blue, or down in the dumps, check for these symptoms:
- Loss of pleasure—You no longer take interest in doing things you used to enjoy.
- Change in sleep pattern—You have trouble falling asleep, you wake often during the night, or you want to sleep more than usual, including during the day.
- Early to rise—You wake up earlier than usual and cannot to get back to sleep.
- Change in appetite—You eat more or less than you used to, resulting in a quick weight gain or weight loss.
- Trouble concentrating—You can't watch a TV program or read an article because other thoughts or feelings get in the way.
- Loss of energy—You feel tired all the time.
- Nervousness—You always feel so anxious you can't sit still.
- Guilt—You feel you "never do anything right" and worry that you are a burden to others.
- Morning sadness—You feel worse in the morning than you do the rest of the day.
- Suicidal thoughts—You feel you want to die or are thinking about ways to hurt yourself.
- If you have three or more of these symptoms, or if you have just one or two but have been feeling bad for two weeks or more, it's time to get help.
Depression can look different in a teenager. Teenagers who are depressed can have:
- Declining school performance
- Withdrawal from friends and activities
- Anger, agitation, and/or irritability.
Also note, depression can be related to age and life events such as loss of a job or a loved one. A family history of depression increases the risk, as does having low self-esteem and low social support.