Does Diabetes Cause Mood Swings?
Diabetes and mood swings go hand-in-hand. Mood swings are so much a part of diabetes that when doctors are asked if diabetes causes mood swings, they don’t hesitate to answer with a solid and simple, “yes.” The more you understand about the connection between diabetes and mood swings, the better equipped you’ll be to recognize them and take action to manage both mood swings and diabetes.
Mood swings can occur throughout the day, and mood can even fluctuate from one minute to the next ("Diabetes and Irrational Behavior, Mental Confusion"). If you or someone you know has ever felt neutral or happy and then suddenly, without warning, become crabby and angry or sad and upset, know that these feelings aren’t overreactions and they most certainly aren’t character flaws. They are mood swings that come with diabetes.
With diabetes, mood swings can be your friend. They’re often the first sign that blood sugar levels are out of control. That said, mood swings aren’t at all friendly, and they can take a toll on your mental health. Knowing the reasons for them can help you take measures to attend to your diabetes and mood swings.
Diabetes and Mood Swings: Why Diabetes Causes Mood Swings
Changes in mood are part of diabetes, no matter the type. Type 1 and type 2 diabetes and mood swings have the same underlying causes. The climbing and crashing of moods aren’t arbitrary. They’re part of diabetes and have multiple causes:
- Blood glucose (sugar) fluctuations
- Diabetes distress
- Uncontrolled diabetes
Blood sugar fluctuations, also known as glycemic variability, can directly cause mood swings. Mood swings that happen because of blood sugar spikes and dips are physiological in nature rather than emotion-based. Blood glucose can fluctuate whether diabetes is uncontrolled or well-managed.
In addition to physiological components, mood swings in diabetes have psychological causes. Depression and diabetes frequently co-occur. Further, the stressful nature of the disease contributes to variations in mood. Let’s take a closer look at the physiological and psychological reasons for the link between diabetes and mood swings.
Blood Sugar Levels and Mood Swings
Diabetes is a disease in which the body can’t regulate its source of energy, which is glucose. Glucose is created during the digestion process. It enters the bloodstream and travels throughout the body to enter the cells and provide energy. Glucose, though, can’t get into the cells on its own. It’s as if it doesn’t have a key. Insulin, a hormone made in the pancreas, is that key. Normally, insulin is made and released, and it escorts glucose into the cells. In diabetes, though, either the body doesn’t produce enough insulin (or even any at all), or the body doesn’t use the insulin efficiently.
A healthy blood sugar level falls between 70 and 140 mg/dL. Dropping below 70 mg/dL or spiking above 140 can cause mood swings. Something quite frustrating to those living with diabetes is that even blood sugar fluctuations within the healthy range can cause mood swings.
Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) happens if someone doesn’t take enough insulin or doesn’t eat enough food to supply glucose. Alcohol consumption plays a role in hypoglycemia, too. Hypoglycemia causes mood swings because glucose is what the brain needs to function. Without enough of it, it suffers. Mood swings are a result. High blood sugar affects the brain, too; the excess sugar leaves it wired, irritable, and unable to concentrate.
Emotional fluctuations, even anger caused by diabetes and mood swings, aren’t necessarily part of a mood disorder. Instead, they’re a biological component of a serious disease. This doesn’t mean, however, that mood swings in diabetes are only biological. There is a strong psychological component to them as well ("What are the Effects of Diabetes on Mood Disorders?").
Psychological Cause of Diabetes and Mood Swings
When someone has diabetes, he or she must manually run the insulin-glucose process by continually monitoring blood sugar levels and taking the necessary steps to keep them within a healthy range. It doesn’t end. Self-managing diabetes is challenging and can cause diabetes distress, a state of mind arising from the worry, stress, and rigors of managing blood sugar.
Understandably, diabetes distress causes mood swings. The negative moods that are part of the swings can happen without warning. Common, and very normal, feelings can involve
- Excessive stress
Diabetes and mood swings can reduce the quality of life and lead to more negative moods. It’s not uncommon for someone to develop major depression when living with diabetes.
Mood swings are a part of diabetes. If they are interfering in your life, see your doctor, a diabetes educator, or a therapist specializing in diabetes. Yes, diabetes causes mood swings; however, diabetes and mood swings don’t have to ruin your life.
Peterson, T. (2022, January 4). Does Diabetes Cause Mood Swings?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, June 8 from https://www.healthyplace.com/diabetes/mental-health/does-diabetes-cause-mood-swings