The Diabetic and Anxiety and Depression

This was originally posted to my blog, Diabetes Odyssey.

Over the past few weeks I’ve posted about my struggles with depression and anxiety and how they both recently got bad enough that I needed to get professional help. I’ve had many, many supportive comments. I’ve gotten zero malicious comments. I’ve also gotten some questions I would like to answer/address here.

“What does depression and anxiety have to do with type 1 diabetes?”

Type 1 diabetes isn’t as simple as your pancreas just no longer produces insulin. No, no, it’s that and a whole lot more. In as simple terms as I can to explain it, type 1 infiltrates your entire body, it literally has an effect on every single function, tissue, cell, hormone, chemical…EVERYTHING. This is why it is so important to take as good care of yourself as you can, to keep everything in line, in balance.

It can, and often does, throw your hormones and chemical balances all out of whack, and this can cause clinical depression and anxiety. Most of the time the diabetic can bring themselves back into balance through natural means such as diet, exercise, BG control, engaging in happy activities, etc… But sometimes it can get bad enough that professional help may be in order.

From another viewpoint, Diabetes (all types) is a never ending job. You get zero breaks from the constant balancing act, zero respite from calculations, BG checks, medications, diet, exercise, doctor visits… literally everything you do in life must have diabetes considered in the mix. Just going to bed at night is a preparation, “Is my BG OK for sleep?”, “Do I need a snack or insulin?”, “Did I take my pills?”, “Do I need to set an alarm to wake me in the middle of the night to check on things?”, etc.

As you can see, this constant, unrelenting work can cause a lot of exhaustion, anxiety, frustration (when things don’t go as planned, etc.), depression.

There’s a lot more to it (I could write a book) but I think (hope) I hit the point.

“Have you always struggled with depression and anxiety?”

Yes and no. If I think back to my earliest memories I can remember anxiety as young as five years old. Depression? I don’t think that started until I was somewhere between 9 and 11 years old (I was diagnosed with type 1 at 8).

My depression and anxiety were never so bad that I couldn’t function in life. They didn’t interfere much. But there were times I did struggle more than others, like in school I can say my grades were low on occasion, probably because of depression and anxiety. Also, from 8th grade through to high school graduation, I ditched, a lot. Why? Because of social anxiety, I hated being around people, it made me profoundly uncomfortable. I just wanted to stay home.

There was one time that the depression and anxiety exploded into a nervous breakdown and made me seriously consider suicide. I can’t tell you all of the details, but I can give you the rundown. It was 2006, my husband and I had been living in pretty bad living arrangements for about five years. The original plan had been to put up with the stressful arrangements for a couple years until we were able to get our own, nice, place. Well, that hadn’t happened and things were spiraling out of control for me. My anxiety was through the roof on a daily basis and finally one day I just erupted. I went into a fit of rage, destroying everything in my bedroom, then I sunk into a chair, crying and hyperventilating. I noticed one of my husbands swords and I sat there, seriously wondering if I was strong enough to fall on it, thrust it through my heart, because I just couldn’t live like this anymore. (I still feel anxiety symptoms just remembering this day).

Then I came to my senses, I knew I had to get out of there, I had to separate myself from the problem. So I did, and things got better. My husband and I got a place within a month and all was fine, not perfect, but back to a manageable level of stress for me.

In 2013 I had open heart surgery. this seems to be the beginning of a new chapter in my life. This was when, health wise, everything just began to fall apart. I had the heart surgery, which went very well, then I began a journey of four eye surgeries for retinopathy. At this time my peripheral neuropathy became unbearably painful. Soon after I began to suffer more symptoms of gastroparesis. In 2015 I was diagnosed with PCOS. I gained a lot of weight and no matter how hard I tried I just couldn’t lose any. I lost my driver license, I quit my job…

All of this just fed my anxiety and depression. I became a hermit, never leaving my house unless I had no choice. I fell into a deep depression, not taking care of my house or diabetes, not showering, sleeping 15 hours a day…it was bad.

I realized I needed help. I got it. Now things are getting better.

Symptoms of anxiety:

There are many types of anxiety and depression. They can manifest differently in each individual person. If you suspect you may have a problem with anxiety and/or depression, consult your doctor.

Sudden overwhelming fear/panic

palpitations, fast heartbeat

shortness of breath



sense of choking, throat tightening

Chest pain, chest tightening




chills/hot flashes

Sense of being detached from the world (de-realization)

fear of dying

excessive worry/tension

unrealistic/exaggerated view of problems



muscle tension


Difficulty concentrating

frequent use of the restroom


Trouble falling or staying asleep

easily startled

avoidance (of things that trigger your anxiety)

Symptoms of depression:

difficulty concentrating/remembering/making decisions


feelings of guilt/worthlessness/hopelessness


insomnia or excessive sleeping


loss of interest in activities once enjoyable

overeating or loss of appetite

persistent aches, pains, GI troubles, cramps, that do not respond to treatment

sad, anxious, or empty feelings

thoughts of suicide/suicide attempts

Being depressed or anxious does not make you weak, crazy, or any stereotypical (and very wrong)assumptions people have made throughout time. Anyone can become depressed or suffer anxiety, these are chemical imbalances, medical conditions.

Do not be ashamed or embarrassed if you have depression and/or anxiety. Do not avoid seeking help.

It can and will get better.


Nothing one can add, but Yes…

Thank you and blessings…xx000


We PWDs have so many numbers staring us in the face–finger-stick BGs, cgm data, lab tests like a1c, etc.–that it can be way too easy to be way too hard on ourselves. Harsh self-judgements, loss of confidence to manage day-to-day, and inadequate social support can trigger depression. In my case, the shock of diagnosis as T1D as a middle-aged adult plus a history of depression made for a very difficult first year.


Your story sounds all too familiar. I too have T1 for 50 years . managed through life pretty well, especially without all the recent tech advances. Lost it, unable to function, and had a nervous breakdown 20 years ago. . Dug out with help, yoga/meditation for another 18 years. Then, thyroid went int o hyper active and anxiety , no sleep, heart palps for months. lost it again! Finding a therapist to deal with the PTSD ( from early childhood diagnosis( who knew this caused PTSD?), yoga and switching tot plant based diet has me feeling better than I ever have felt. The high carb/low Pro/Fat is much easier for me to controlBGs.

I wish you the best! Know you are NOT alone in these struggles! Reach out on line or on blogs, or phone calls help to make us feel connected.



Hey, @Tamra11, how are you doing? Just thinking of you and wishing you well.

I’m doing OK right now. Getting close to moving time so I’m struggling a bit with anxiety, but I have a therapist appointment tomorrow so I should be able to get some relief, hopefully. :slight_smile:

Glad to hear it–no one likes moving. :truck:

And…your support team is always here! :smiley_cat: