Diabetes and Other Mental Health Conditions

Learn how alcohol, sexual health, anxiety and stress, and eating disorders relate to diabetes.

Alcohol and Diabetes

For those with type 2 diabetes who control their blood sugar with diet and exercise, alcohol in moderation is not considered a problem. For those with type 1 diabetes or poorly controlled type 2, alcohol can significantly affect blood sugar, as it's an empty calorie that acts like white sugar in the blood. Also, getting drunk can lead to very poor eating and sleep decisions. And finally, alcohol can increase nerve damage and adversely affect any high blood pressure or eye problems that are already present. If a person does drink, careful blood sugar monitoring is needed.

Diabetes and Sexual Health

As mentioned in the opening article, men with diabetes over the age of 50 have more chance of impotence. Often the pressure on the kidneys causes frequent urination that can get in the way of sexual pleasure. Blood sugar problems that lead to fatigue can affect the desire for sex. And finally, the weight gain often associated with diabetes can affect a person's sexuality from not wanting to be touched to feeling they are no longer sexually desirable due to weight gain.

Diabetes and Anxiety and Stress

Anxiety and stress alone do not lead to diabetes, but the behaviors associated with anxiety and stress just might. As with depression, dietary choices and exercise amounts can vary greatly depending on a person's mood. If someone with an anxiety disorder also has a weight problem, their risk of diabetes increases. Most people with diagnosed depression also have anxiety, so the risk factors affecting self-care associated with depression include the added stress of anxiety.

Diabetes and Eating Disorders

If a person has diabetes, an existing eating disorder can make it extremely difficult to manage the illness. Bulimia is dangerous enough on its own. Now add diabetes - the results of binging on high sugar and fat foods that shock the system and then throwing it up completely upsets the body's blood sugar balance. In addition, if the bulimic individual is taking psychiatric medications, it's impossible to know if the medications were metabolized before the person threw up.

On the other side, those who have gained weight from antipsychotic medications may go to extremes to lose the weight which can further complicate blood sugar. Those with anorexia are naturally at the highest risk, as diabetes management depends so greatly on diet.


 


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Last Updated: 11 March 2016

Reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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