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October 17, 2019

Given that October 10th is World Mental Health Awareness Day; this blog is going to be looking at the close connections between diabetes and mental health issues. Diabetes distress was discussed in a previous blog but today I plan to take it one step further and talk about the mental health issues that are seen more predominantly in people with diabetes including: depression, anxiety, eating disorders, bipolar and schizophrenia type disorders.
Diabetes is not only seen more often in people with mental health issues but the medications used to treat them can also contribute to its’ development. It is important to ask your doctor if you are on any of these medications, along with following a proper diet and exercise to help prevent it. Mental health issues can also arise from trying to manage your diabetes. Focusing too much on controlling diet and taking it to extreme measures can lead to eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa bulimia nervosa and binge-eating disorder.
Certain disorders are also seen more often in the diabetes population including: bipolar disorder, depression and anxiety. Those with diabetes are twice as likely to get depression, with the risk increasing the longer you have diabetes. It can also lead to depressive episodes last longer and happen more often.

Symptoms are similar to diabetes distress and include:
• Trouble concentrating
• Loss of energy
• Nervousness
• Guilt
• Morning sadness
• Change in appetite
• Waking earlier than normal
• Social withdrawal
• Worsening work performance

Anxiety disorder is also closely related to depression and seen more frequently in people with diabetes. The symptoms can include:
• Difficulty concentrating
• Fatigue
• Irritability
• Impatience
• Being easily distracted
• Muscle tension

Treatment for anxiety and depression is similar and can include: exercise, cognitive behavioral therapy, mindfulness meditation and medications. Awareness is important, so if you think you might be affected by a mental health issue talk to your physician, nurse practitioner or diabetes educator.
I would like to finish off with discussing a very difficult topic. The focus of this month’s World Mental Health Awareness Day was on “40 seconds of action” which refers to the fact that every 40 seconds someone in the world dies from suicide. People with diabetes are more likely to have suicidal thoughts, attempts and completed suicide compared to the general population. One study also found that those with newly diagnosed had twice the rate for suicide attempts compared to those without diabetes. However it is important to remember that there is help and resources available for those that need help.

There are free programs and help lines available including:
1. Bounce Back-free program providing coaching and support to help support mental health. Call 1-866-345-0224 or visit their website
2. Distress and Crisis Ontario-provide support for those in crisis or those who need emotional support. Call 416-408-4357 or Text 45645
3. Telehealth Ontario- If you are experiencing a mental health or addictions related crisis Call 1-866-797-0000
4. Toronto Senior’s helpline-supportive counseling along with crisis support, Call 1-877-621-2077

But if you need urgent help and are at risk of harming yourself, call 911 or visit your local emergency department.


Bounce Back. (2019). Retrieved from:

Diabetes Canada. (2018). Diabetes and Mental Health. Retrieved from:

Diabetes Canada. (2019). Mental Health Issues. Retrieved from:

Distress Centres of Greater Toronto (2019). If you are in distress or in need of emotional support. Retrieved from:

WHO. (2019). World Mental Health Day 2019: focus on suicide prevention. Retrieved from:

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