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“Diabetes distress is the personal, often hidden side of diabetes where patients become distressed about being able to manage their disease, obtaining the support they need, managing the emotional burden of diabetes and accessing needed care.”

As this quote from Gonzales, Fisher & Polonsky in Diabetes Care (2011 – Jan: 34 (1) 236-9) suggests, the demands of living with diabetes can be overwhelming as it requires a multitude of daily self-management activities and decisions. People can experience a range of thoughts and emotions as well as physical and behaviour symptoms:


  • Fear
  • Anxious / overwhelmed / stressed
  • Sadness / isolation
  • Anger / resentment
  • Guilt / regret
  • Frustration / defeated / disappointed

Behaviour / Physical

  • Withdrawn from family / friends / social activities
  • Unproductive / lack of concentration
  • Reliance on alcohol / substances
  • Constanlty tired / no energy / run down
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Digestive upsets / weight changes / sick feeling

Thoughts / Questions

  • What is my blood sugar level?
  • Where is my meter?
  • Do I have strips?
  • When did I last eat?
  • What do I eat?
  • Are carbs bad or are fats bad?
  • Why does my blood sugar vary so much when I eat the same foods every day?
  • What happens if I hypo in front of people?
  • Do I have any appointments today?
  • What are people saying about my diabetes?  Are they judging me?
  • Am I doing my best?
  • It’s my own fault! I’m a failure! I’m hopeless!
  • Will I ever get my diabetes right?

Below is a short list of resources that you may find helpful. They cover a range of information, as there is no one support / counselling style that fits all. Please speak to your GP to discuss your symptoms along with accessing the right support that suits your individual needs.


Diabetes community support groups for type 1 and type 2 diabetes
Phone:    1300 437 386

GP management plan (mental health plan)
Contact:    Speak to your local GP

Black Dog Institute
Phone:       (02) 9382 4530
Email: (general enquires)

Beyond Blue
Phone:     1300 224 636    


Behavioral Diabetes Institute

The Diabetes Lifestyle Book: Facing your Fears & Making Changes for a long & Healthy Life
Authors:   Jennifer Gregg, Glenn Callaghan and Steven Hayes

Phone:     13 11 14

Disclaimer This document describes the generally accepted practice at the time of publication only. It is only a summary of clinical knowledge regarding this area. The Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital makes no warranty, express or implied, that the information contained in this document is comprehensive. They accept no responsibility for any consequence arising from inappropriate application of this information.

  • Diabetes and Emotional Wellbeing #154
  • Owner: Diabetes Education
  • Last Reviewed: April 7, 2021
  • Next Review: April 7, 2024