Heads up on diabetes

Health & Wellbeing -

When we think about diabetes, it’s common to think of the physical impacts. What may not be obvious, is the significant impact on mental health experienced by many people living with the condition.

Taking a toll

The day-to-day impact of diabetes can significantly affect mental wellbeing. Diabetes distress is a clinically recognised emotional response to the impact of diabetes on medical, financial and social factors1. Beyond these direct impacts, individuals may feel stigmatised or judged due to community perceptions of those living with the condition, which can have a negative impact on their mental health2.

You’re not alone

More than 1.2 million Australians have diagnosed diabetes and there are potentially many more who are undiagnosed or at high risk of developing the condition3. Research shows that up to half of the people living with diabetes will also experience mental health conditions and having diabetes can double the risk of depression compared to people without diabetes4.

Living well with diabetes

There are several things you can do to take care of your both your physical and mental wellbeing while living with diabetes.

  • Ask for help – The most important first step is to recognise that you might need some support for your mental health. Speaking with your GP about your concerns is a great first step.

  • Take control - It’s important to understand how best to manage your diabetes with lifestyle changes, blood glucose monitoring and medication, if necessary. Your GP can help, and you’ll also find useful information on the Diabetes Australia website.

  • Keep in touch – If you’re not feeling yourself, it can be tempting to limit your social contact with others. It’s important to stay in touch with people that are important to you and keep socially connected.

  • Stay active – Exercise is good for both your mental and physical wellbeing. Whether it’s an early morning dog walk or a social game of tennis - physical activity is great for body and mind.

  • Watch what you eat – Ensure you eat a healthy, balanced diet including a variety of nutritious food. Eating well can not only nourish your body and help manage your diabetes, but also improve your mental outlook.

  • Don’t smoke – People with diabetes who smoke are more likely to experience mental health concerns than those who don’t smoke3. If this is an issue for you, now is the time to get some help to quit.

What does it mean for life insurance?

It’s still possible to get life insurance when living with diabetes, provided your diabetes is stable and adequately managed without major complications. Having good control of your diabetes makes it more likely that you will receive a favourable insurance assessment. When assessing your insurance application, you’ll be asked to provide information to help assess any potential long-term impacts your diabetes may have on your health. Information that may be needed includes the type of diabetes you have, when it was diagnosed, the type of treatment you are receiving, your blood glucose control and whether you have experienced any complications from your diabetes. Other factors that may be considered include your cardiovascular and metabolic health, including your body mass index (BMI), blood pressure and cholesterol.

Getting help

For support and information on managing your diabetes and your mental health, speak with your GP or visit, Diabetes Australia or SANE Australia.


  1. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2011) Diabetes and poor mental health and wellbeing: an exploratory analysis

  2. Nanayakkara N, Pease A, Ranasinha S, et al. (2018) Depression and diabetes distress in adults with type 2 diabetes: results from the Australian National Diabetes Audit

  3. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2020). Diabetes

  4. Diabetes Australia. (2022). Depression and mental health - Diabetes Australia.


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