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Can Diabetes Affect Mental Health?

When we think of the effects of diabetes, what comes to mind first are the obvious physical signs associated with the disease.

These include foot complications, hypertension, vision problems, and wound infection due to slower healing associated with diabetes. 

However, living with these symptoms can sometimes impact patients' mental health and lead to conditions such as depression, dementia, denial, and delirium.

Let’s take a look at how being diabetic can affect your mental health.

Can Diabetes Affect Mental Health?

The Relationship Between Diabetes and The Mind

Diabetes is characterized by either too high or too low blood sugar levels.

Considering that the brain uses glucose to perform its functions, including judgment, memory, thinking, emotions, and behavior, having too high or too low glucose levels in the blood can affect the brain.

This, in turn, impacts the mental health of the patients leading to mental illnesses. 

If you have been diagnosed with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, it would be best to strictly follow your doctor's advice in terms of what you eat or not.

This way, you can maintain stable blood sugar levels, which is critical in managing diabetes.

Generally, no foods are off-limits for people living with diabetes; however, you should consume only that which is enough. 

If you are wondering what to eat to control your diabetes and keep your blood sugar in check, there’s no reason to feel upset.

There are many diabetes friendly meal delivery services to help you get what you want and when you need it.

Common Examples of Mental Health Problems Associated with Diabetes

1. Depression

People living with diabetes are at higher risk of developing depression. The most common type of depression among patients living with diabetes is called diabetes distress.

The most common causes of distress include the pressure of managing the condition and worrying about other diabetes complications.

Additionally, scientists believe that the blood's erratic sugar and insulin levels affect the brain contributing to diabetic distress.

While its symptoms may not be severe and sometimes hard to diagnose, diabetes distress can severely impact the patient's quality of life.

2. Dementia

There are several causes of dementia that could include illnesses or injuries.

It is characterized by degeneration of neurons and reduced flow of blood to the brain.

Although researchers have not yet established if diabetes causes dementia, there is evidence that erratic sugar and insulin levels can harm the brain in the following ways.

  • Increasing the risk of heart diseases which may damage the brain's blood vessels,
  • Causing a chemical imbalance in the brain,
  • Causing chronic inflammation in the body that can lead to brain cell damage over time.

Other conditions associated with diabetes can also play a role in the development of dementia in diabetic patients.

These conditions include hypertension, obesity, smoking, lack of physical activity, and depression.

Can Diabetes Affect Mental Health?

3. Delirium

When left unchecked, diabetes can lead to delirium. Delirium is a severe brain dysfunction characterized by confusion, inattention, and irrational thinking.

Delirium in diabetes presents itself in two forms hyperactive delirium and hypoactive delirium. In some cases, it can present itself as a combination of the two.

It’s usually caused by low blood sugar levels in the blood. Early identification of delirium is critical because delirium can be fatal. 

4. Denial

Denial is the most common emotion felt by diabetes patients following diagnosis.

However, accepting your condition, possibly with the help of a psychologist, is critical in managing it.

If denial is not attended, a patient runs the risk of not taking action to manage the condition, leading to other complications.

Final Words

Although diabetes is incurable, it is manageable if you follow your doctor's advice.

If you feel that your condition is taking a toll on your mental health, it would be best to talk to your doctor. Early intervention on mental health issues is critical at preventing chronic mental illnesses.

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