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Diabetes and mood swings: Effects on relationships
Written by Rachel Nall, RN, BSN, CCRN
Diabetes is a condition that impacts the way a person’s body uses sugar for energy. However, diabetes affects much more than blood sugar. It can impact nearly every body system and have an effect on a person’s mood.
Stress associated with managing diabetes as well as concerns about potential side effects can all contribute to changes in mood. In addition, the actual highs and lows of blood sugar levels may also cause nervousness, anxiety, and confusion.
It is important for people to recognize their own individual symptoms of high or low blood sugar. They must also ensure they seek support for any concerning mental health symptoms they might experience.
Watching these mood swings can often be difficult for friends and family to understand. However, learning why a person may experience mood changes related to diabetes and being supportive can help to promote a stronger, healthier relationship.
Contents of this article:
How do diabetes and mood swings go together?
Adjustments to their diet and constantly checking their blood sugar can also add to a person’s stress and enjoyment of life. As a result, they are more likely to experience feelings of anxiety and depression.
Blood sugar swings can cause rapid changes in a person’s mood, such as making them sad and irritable. This is especially true during hypoglycemic episodes, where blood sugar levels dip lower than 70 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL).
When a person’s blood sugar returns to more normal ranges, these symptoms often go away. In fact, changes in mood and mental status can be one of the first signs that someone’s blood sugar levels are not where they should be.
According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, the mental symptoms associated with low blood sugar levels may include:
- feeling confused
- feeling anxious
- having difficulty making decisions
Symptoms that indicate a person may have high blood sugar levels include:
- difficulty thinking clearly and quickly
- feeling nervous
- feeling tired or having low energy
Having diabetes can also cause a mental health condition called diabetes distress. This condition shares some elements of depression, anxiety, and stress.
While a person may not have symptoms severe enough for a doctor to diagnose them with a more severe mental illness, these symptoms can affect the quality of life for a person with diabetes.
An estimated 33 to 50 percent of people with diabetes experience diabetes distress at some point during the course of their disease. The sources of distress can include the responsibilities of managing the condition to worrying about potential complications.
Effect of diabetes on mental health
People with type 1 or type 2 diabetes are at increased risk for experiencing depression.
A diabetes diagnosis can also add to a person’s experience with depression. For example, a person who struggles with depression often lacks motivation and energy to engage in healthful behaviors. This could include healthful eating or exercising regularly.
Take online therapy for mental health difficulties from the comfort of your home.
A leisurely walk can boost mood, psychological well-being
Written by Honor Whiteman
Regular exercise is considered key for improving and maintaining physical health. When it comes to psychological health, however, new research suggests that you do not need to hit the gym in order to reap the rewards.
Researchers from the University of Connecticut (UConn) in Mansfield found that simply going for a leisurely walk can improve mood and boost subjective well-being, particularly for adults who are normally sedentary.
Lead study author Gregory Panza, of the Department of Kinesiology at UConn, and colleagues recently reported their findings in the Journal of Health Psychology.
While a number of studies have shown that physical activity can benefit psychological health, Panza and team note that it remains unclear how the intensity of physical activity impacts subjective well-being, defined as a person’s own evaluation of their lives.
The researchers decided to investigate this association further with their new study, which included 419 healthy, middle-aged adults.
The physical activity of each adult was monitored over 4 days using accelerometers, which participants wore on their hips.
Additionally, subjects completed questionnaires detailing their daily exercise routines, psychological well-being, level of depression, whether they experienced pain and its severity, as well as the extent to which pain disrupted their day-to-day activities.
Light, moderate activity led to greatest improvements in well-being
The researchers found that adults who were sedentary had the lowest levels of subjective well-being and the highest levels of depression, which indicates that lack of physical activity is detrimental to psychological health.
Overall, the team found that people who engaged in physical activity demonstrated greater subjective well-being. However, the benefits of physical activity were found to vary by intensity.
Light-intensity activity, for example, was associated with greater psychological well-being and lower depression, while moderate-intensity activity was linked to higher psychological well-being and reduced pain severity.
Light-intensity activity was defined by the study as a leisurely walk that does not noticeably raise heart rate, breathing, or sweating. Moderate-intensity activity was defined as walking a mile in 15 to 20 minutes, with a slight increase in heart rate, breathing, and sweating.
Notably, the study results revealed that sedentary adults who increased their exercise levels to light or moderate activity demonstrated the greatest increases in subjective well-being.
However, vigorous-intensity activity – defined as jogging or briskly walking a mile in 13 minutes, with very noticeable increases in heart rate, breathing, and sweating – appeared to have no impact on subjective well-being. However, the researchers say that this is not necessarily a bad finding.
“Recent studies had suggested a slightly unsettling link between vigorous activity and subjective well-being,” says study co-author Beth Taylor, associate professor of kinesiology at UConn. “We did not find this in the current study, which is reassuring to individuals who enjoy vigorous activity and may be worried about negative effects.”
Take online counseling for your mental health needs.