Managing depression and diabetes

Friday, 7 April 2017

Depression is a lot more than sadness. It’s a serious mental health condition that affects how you feel about yourself and your life. Depression is one of the most common mental health issues experienced by Australians and the theme of this year’s World Health Day.

Diabetes and depression share some of the same symptoms such as fatigue, sleep problems, difficulty concentrating. This can make it difficult to know whether your feelings are caused by your diabetes, depression, or both.

Symptoms of depression include:

  • Having little interest or pleasure in doing things,
  • Having negative thoughts about yourself and your self-worth
  • Having difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling like you are alone or isolating yourself
  • Loss or change of appetite or significant weight loss or gain
  • Feeling lethargic and without energy
  • Moving or speaking very slowly, or being fidgety or restless
  • Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep – or sleeping too much
  • Headaches and muscle pains
  • Feeling sick and run down

For people living with diabetes it can also lead to avoiding checking BGLs, missing medical appointments or avoiding injections due to feelings of shame or a lack of motivation to manage their diabetes.

What can you do?

If you are experiencing symptoms of depression, it’s important that you speak to your General Practitioner or another health professional. They can help you identify if you are experiencing depression and offer treatment or make a referral to a mental health professional if needed.

The following suggestions about managing your mood, the food you eat, how you move and staying in control of your diabetes can help you look after your general well-being.

1. Mood

Reach out and talk to at least one person every day. This will help stop feelings of isolation and keep you in contact with your support networks. Your family and friends want to be there for you.

2. Food

Eat well balanced meals. You may feel like foods containing high amounts of carbohydrates or no food at all, but it’s important that your body gets the nutrition it needs. Try to have meals with other people who can help you prepare and cook.

3. Move

Move your body. This might feel like the last thing your body wants to do, but physical activity has powerful effects on your brain and can improve the way you think and feel about yourself. Start small (e.g. walk for 10 minutes) and try to be active every day.

4. Me

Get in touch with your health professionals to get guidance and make plans to manage your diabetes and depression. Your healthcare team are there to help you with all aspects of your diabetes, including how you feel about it.


If you or a loved one is currently struggling with depression there are many people you can reach out to for support including:

BeyondBlue: 1300 224 636 for information and support for people living with depression or anxiety.

Lifeline: 13 11 14 for 24-hour confidential telephone crisis support.

Diabetes NSW & ACT: 1300 342 238 for information on diabetes, education programs, peer support groups, and other events.

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