The Link Between T1D & Mental Health

Apr 12, 2022

Type 1 diabetes is much more than a physical condition. Living with T1D often involves dealing with some psychological challenges as well.

Most people with T1D are aware of these challenges, but often they are surprised to hear these challenges are actually (and unfortunately) quite common.

It is helpful to think about T1D and mental health broadly. While some people with T1D have a mental health condition like depression or anxiety, many others struggle with stress and difficult emotions related to having diabetes. These challenges affect your quality of life.

Psychology is the study of how situations, emotions, and relationships in your life interact and impact your behavior. This definition gives us a framework we can use to talk about how T1D affects your mental health.


T1D is a self-managed condition, which means you, not your doctor, are responsible for taking care of yourself on a daily basis. Managing T1D involves constantly making important decisions that affect your health. What to eat, how much insulin to take, when (or whether) to exercise, how to interpret a glucose reading, how many carbs to take to treat a low, the list goes on. This is a lot of responsibility and can feel overwhelming - and it’s no fun to feel overwhelmed. 


Uncomfortable emotions are par for the course with T1D. Living with a chronic condition like T1D can be challenging, and balancing everything necessary to live well with diabetes can be stressful. Even if you do everything you are ‘supposed’ to do, T1D can be unpredictable and frustrating. And if you aren’t able to do everything you are ‘supposed’ to do, it can cause feelings of anxiety, guilt, and even hopelessness. Not to mention high blood sugar can have a significant impact on your emotional state. As you can see, the emotional side of T1D is complicated.



Living with T1D can be especially challenging when it comes to relationships with family and friends. Stress and other negative emotions can affect your ability to be present in relationships, and maybe even your ability to have relationships at all - and when you throw diabetes in the mix, it gets even more complicated. Healthy relationships are an essential part of your emotional well-being, so when T1D affects your relationships, it impacts your mental health. 


People often seek help for diabetes-related mental health issues because of how their situation, emotions, or relationship affects how they are in the world – their behavior. When living with T1D (the situation), how it makes you feel (the emotions), and the impact it has on your relationships intersect, it can make it challenging to act how you want to. For some people, this means taking care of themselves and sticking to their diabetes management plan. For others, this means feeling so depressed, anxious, or helpless that they have trouble going to work or school or doing things they enjoy. Still for others, living with T1D causes stress in their relationships, making it hard to be a loving, supportive friend. It can also be a combination of these issues and other things we haven’t mentioned.

The intersection of T1D and mental health is complicated, but I want to assure you there’s hope. Many people with T1D live full lives and have healthy relationships. If you are struggling with diabetes and mental health issues, know that it can get better!

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