Diabetes and depression

People who have diabetes are more likely to become depressed than those who do not have diabetes. The exact cause is not known. It could be a chemical imbalance in the brain or the feelings of helplessness, frustration and unpredictability of diabetes that can cause depression.

It takes energy, motivation and drive for life to manage diabetes well. Taking your medicines, testing your blood glucose, eating healthy and being physically active can be difficult if you are depressed.

Symptoms of depression

Symptoms of depression are:

  • feeling sad or empty most of the time
  • decreased interest in most activities
  • change in weight and/or appetite
  • trouble sleeping/sleeping too much
  • feeling agitated or sluggish
  • fatigue or loss of energy
  • feeling worthless or guilty
  • problems concentrating or making decisions
  • thoughts of death or suicide

If you have any, some or all of the above symptoms nearly every day, you should talk to your doctor or health care provider. Professional counseling and/or anti-depressant medicines are effective in treating depression.

Dealing with depression and diabetes

Another idea for helping to deal with depression is to answer the following questions for yourself:

  • What have I lost? (Example: I can't eat anything I want.)
  • What is left? (Example: I can still eat.)
  • What is possible? (Example: I can have great meals, get better nutrition and have treats in smaller servings.)

You may find out that the "what is possible" list is longer than the "what have I lost" list.


Use this worksheet to assess how diabetes is affecting your life:

Effects of diabetes on your life worksheet


Live your life; don't live for diabetes.

Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Basic Skills for Living with Diabetes, sixth edition
First Published: 11/27/2006
Last Reviewed: 10/23/2019