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Whittington Health NHSUCL

Emotional problems


Woman with sad expression.

Key fact:
Many people with and without diabetes face emotional problems - but there are lots of treatments and approaches that can help.

Emotional problems are very common

  • Two in three people have depression at some point in their lives.
  • Other problems such as anxiety, panic and anger are also very common.
  • People with diabetes are more likely to become depressed than people without diabetes.

Why are emotional problems more common in diabetes?

Being told you have diabetes can be a shock. One of the hardest things to come to terms with is that diabetes is for life. There is a lot of new information to take in, and you may have to make some life changes. This can feel overwhelming.

Everyone reacts differently to having diabetes and coping with it in the long term. You might experience a range of emotions and feelings over time. Whatever you feel is normal, and you will not be alone in feeling it.

What are the main emotional problems in diabetes?

Emotional problems are very individual. Some feelings commonly associated with diabetes are:

  • sadness or low mood
  • stress, feeling like you can’t cope
  • anger or guilt that this has happened to you
  • confusion about all the information you are given
  • shock or disbelief at hearing that you have diabetes
  • fear about the future, for example, developing complications
  • worry or anxiety about different aspects of diabetes, such as having a hypo or managing your tablets or insulin.

Will I experience emotional problems?

Many people continue to lead very fulfilled lives with diabetes, but we all have good days and bad days.

It is not uncommon for people to feel that having diabetes affects their mood and self-esteem. Having a chronic condition changes your life in many ways, and it is not always easy to adjust.

Often these problems are worse if they are kept hidden. If you are distressed, speak to someone about it. Your friends, family, doctor and nurse might all be able to help.

See also above: Prevention | Checks & tests | Complications | Treatment | Support