Diabetes distress

On 22 October 2020 by Droobi

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Diabetes distress is a state in which people experience feelings such as stress, guilt, or denial that come from living with diabetes and the burden of self-management. It has also been linked to worse health outcomes. Diabetes distress is the emotional response to living with diabetes, the burden of relentless daily self-management and its long-term complications. It can also arise from the social impact of diabetes (e.g. stigma, discrimination, etc.) and the financial implications of the condition.

Living with diabetes is challenging. The most frequently reported problem areas among people with diabetes are ‘worrying about the future and the possibility of serious complications. Although there are common stressors irrespective of the type of diabetes, distress can differ by diabetes type. Type 1 diabetes is more related to the insulin treatment and hyper/hypoglycaemia yet Type 2 diabetes it is often related to social consequences, food restriction, and obesity.

The impact of these feelings should not be neglected. Managing diabetes is a ‘24/7’ lifelong activity, involving the continual need to make decisions, and take actions, with often unsatisfactory outcomes. The accumulation of these problems and frustrations may lead to disengagement from diabetes care.

Diabetes distress shows emotional symptoms that overlap with recognised mental health conditions, such as depression. Despite the similarities, depression and diabetes distress are completely different and require different assessment and management techniques. Unlike depression, diabetes distress is not to be assumed as psychological issue, but a reaction to diabetes whereas depression refers to how people feel about their life in general.

Diabetes does not go away, so what can I do to ease my distress? 

  • Find someone who understands your feelings and talk to them. 

  • Talk to another person who has diabetes, a diabetes support group offered by your local hospital or your diabetes educator, family member, or a mental health professional. Someone who knows diabetes will ease the burden and will not make you feel alone. 

  • If you feel judged by others, tell them your concerns, and ask for their help rather than their judgments. 

  • If you are worn out by the daily tasks, give yourself a break from the routine. 

  • If you feel bothered by others or have the sense, they are monitoring your behavior, ask them to stop


It is never too late to seek help. Your health is a priority!