Can Diabetes Affect My Mood?
I was recently diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. I am on two different types of insulin, NovoLog and Levemir (insulin detemir). Can diabetes have any bearing on mood swings or sudden “bad mood episodes”? Name Withheld
Mary de Groot, PhD, responds:
Mood changes are a common experience in people with either type 2 or type 1 diabetes. Changes in mood can be attributed to various factors, including rapid changes in blood sugars, the stresses and strains of managing diabetes every day, or depression.
What to Know
Some people experience increased irritable or sad moods when they have a rapid change in their blood sugars. This can be a decrease from their usual level but still in the normal range (80 to 130 mg/dl) or when blood sugars are low (hypoglycemia), below 70 mg/dl. For others, irritability or sadness can occur when blood sugars are higher (say, above 250 mg/dl). In both cases, changes in mood tend to be temporary and will be reduced or cease when blood sugars return to your target range.
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Another source of changes in mood is diabetes-related distress. This comes from worry, concern, or feelings of stress associated with the daily routine of managing diabetes. We have learned that diabetes distress is associated with more difficulty managing A1C. Talk with your doctor or diabetes educator if you feel that you are struggling with your diabetes. They can help!
Finally, 1 in 4 people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes develops long-standing depressive symptoms. This may involve feeling sad, blue, or bored nearly every day, in combination with changes in sleep or appetite, low concentration, feeling worthless or very guilty about everyday situations, and lack of energy. These symptoms tend to come on gradually and may be associated with life stressors, or they may occur out of the blue but remain for an extended period of time.
If you develop these symptoms, they are important to discuss with your doctor. Long-standing depression is associated with greater difficulty in managing blood sugars, worsened diabetes complications, and poorer outcomes. The good news is that depression can be effectively treated with medications and/or talk therapy.
Tell your doctor if you have experienced any of these changes in mood so that you can discuss the options that would work best for you.