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Diabetes and Mental Health

One in five Australians are affected by mental health problems at some time in their life and people with diabetes are at risk of developing mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, and diabetes-related distress.

Diabetes can affect you physically, emotionally, socially & psychologically.  This is also relevant for family members and caregivers who can experience the same emotions and reactions to diabetes as the person who has been diagnosed. Diabetes may lead to specific problems and increased stress, which we often call “diabetes distress”.

Daily life and general stress levels can affect your diabetes control.

Research shows that having diabetes more than doubles the risk of developing depression. 

Depression can increase the likelihood of developing diabetes complications. People with depression may find it harder to deal with everyday tasks. Over time, managing diabetes (regular blood glucose testing, taking medication, following a healthy eating plan and regular physical activity) can take its toll. This may increase a person’s risk of depression, which may in turn lead to their usual diabetes care being neglected.

Some people with diabetes may find that they need the support of a psychologist, social worker or counsellor, who can help with stress and emotions that might impact on you managing your diabetes. Your doctor can refer you so that you can get the help you need. A counsellor, psychologist, psychiatrist or a social worker can help you if you are having any kind of trouble dealing with the psychological side of diabetes. Stress hormones aren’t good for diabetes or your general health and wellbeing.

The most effective treatments combine psychological and medical care. Talk to your doctor about how you are feeling and discuss whether a referral for psychological support is appropriate. You can also contact counsellors, social workers and psychologists directly (social workers generally work for community services, such as local councils, health centres and hospitals).

Note: Medicare may provide a rebate on psychologists' or counsellors’ fees if you have a chronic condition and are referred by your doctor. If you have private health insurance you may also receive a rebate, depending on the type of cover you have.

Support is vital and can come from a number of sources such as friends, family, community groups and Diabetes Educators.

Your family and friends can provide day-to-day support and assistance in managing your emotional health, physical health, and motivation for diabetes self-management.

Joining a local diabetes support group can be helpful. Your health professional, community health centre, local diabetes centre or local council can all provide information about programs and groups in your area.

If you or someone you know needs help, talk to your doctor or other health professional about getting the right advice and support. For further information contact:

  • Beyondblue on 1300 22 4636
  • Black Dog Institute  on 02 9382 2991
  • Lifeline or call them on 13 11 14
  • SANE Guide to Good Mental Health for People Affected by Diabetes - Diabetes Australia and SANE Australia have developed a booklet on depression and mental illness specifically for people with diabetes. To order a copy of ‘The SANE Guide to Good Mental Health for people affected by diabetes’, call 1300 136 588. To download the booklet, click here

Relaxation techniques often can help people with stress, anxiety, depression and sleep problems. Several relaxation techniques can be accessed through the link below:

For more information on Diabetes and Mental Health/Depression access:


Reference: Diabetes Australia