Many people with diabetes can feel weighed down with concerns about their health and wellbeing. If neglected, these feelings can end up affecting their quality of life and self-management of diabetes.

Did you know?

  • People with diabetes are especially vulnerable to depression and anxiety
  • Many people self managing diabetes experience moderate to high levels of diabetes related distress
  • People experiencing depression may find it hard to manage their diabetes such as regular blood glucose testing, taking medication, following a healthy eating plan and regular physical activity
  • More than 30% of people with diabetes may have a concurrent mental health condition
  • Help and support is available


One in four people will experience depression at some time in their adult life. For people who live with diabetes this figure is even higher. Research shows that having diabetes more than doubles the risk of developing depression. Living with a chronic condition like diabetes, coping with biological and hormonal factors, plus needing to manage diabetes on a daily basis may increase the risk of depression. Symptoms of depression may include:

  • Moodiness that is out of character
  • Increased irritability and frustration
  • Finding it hard to take minor personal criticisms
  • Spending less time with friends and family
  • Loss of interest in food, sex, exercise or other pleasurable activities
  • Being awake throughout the night
  • Increased alcohol and drug use
  • Staying home from work or school
  • Increased physical health complaints like fatigue or pain
  • Being reckless or taking unnecessary risks (e.g. driving fast or dangerously)
  • Slowing down of thoughts and actions

*Symptom checklist courtesy of beyondblue 2012beyondblue has an interactive online depression checklist that can help to identify if you are at risk of depression. If you have identified with some of the symptoms listed above, or with the online checklist it is important that you discuss this with your doctor or diabetes educator promptly. Many people try to ignore these symptoms or consider them a normal part of ageing or having a chronic condition. You are not alone. Depression is an illness and it can be treated.

The treatment for diabetes and depression involves a coordinated approach and finding the treatment that works best for you. Your doctor may refer you to a psychiatrist, psychologist or other mental health professional, depending on your needs as part of the GP Mental Health Care Plan.


For help or support

Speak to your doctor

Lifeline (13 11 14) – Lifeline provide a 24 hour telephone crisis support service that is available to anyone needing emotional support. Online one-on-one crisis support chat is also available. If you or someone you know is in danger or needs immediate medical attention, please call 000.

beyondblue (1300 22 4636) – beyondblue is a national, independent, not-for-profit organisation working to address issues associated with depression, anxiety and related disorders in Australia. They have a range of resources that are available to download or order from their website. The beyondblue info line PH: 1300 22 4636 will connect you to a qualified mental health professional who can provide information on depression, anxiety and related disorders, and can discuss a range of referral options, for example where you can access treatment services in your area. Access support via email at

SANE Australia (1800 18 7263) – SANE Australia promote understanding of mental illness through a range of education products and services for those affected by mental illness, their family and friends, health professionals and the general community. They have a range of factsheets, podcasts, books and DVDs that are available.
The SANE Helpline 1800 18 7263 is intended to provide general information only to residents of Australia. The service does not provide specific advice, which should be sought from an appropriately qualified professional person.
SANE also provides a Helpline Online service. You can use this to ask questions about mental illness and related topics. Enquiries are usually answered within 3 working days. Use Helpline Online for more specific information and referral to support agencies (it is not a counselling service).

Black Dog Institute is a not-for-profit, educational, research, clinical and community-oriented facility offering specialist expertise in depression and bipolar disorder. They have a range of online information and depression education programs available.