Living with Type 1 Diabetes

I Grapple with Hypoglycemia-Induced Depression

As a person with Type 1, I do my best to stay in control of my blood sugar levels; I even use a CGM and pump. Even so, sometimes my body has a mind of its own. It’s frustrating when I do my best to be on track only to realize my glucose levels are way off. These swings in blood sugar levels make me feel out of control and helpless.

Dealing with the mood swings of hypoglycemia is not an easy process, either. I recently discovered that strong emotions come with my blood sugar lows. Sometimes my body reacts physically, but other times I become extremely depressed. Whenever I feel despondent during a low, I dig myself into an emotional pit. I become anxious and avoid seeking help.

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It’s almost never immediately clear to me that dropping glucose levels correlate to my emotional state. Not having enough glucose to fuel the brain creates some kind of a chemical reaction and puts me in a state of denial. Even if I do manage to tell myself that the depression will fade once I return to a normal blood sugar, it feels overwhelming. Emotions run wild until my blood sugar levels are brought back under control.

Instances of hypoglycemic depression make me feel isolated, but I’ve recently learned that it’s a lot more common than I thought. Once I started talking about this emotional pattern with others, I learned that many other friends with diabetes experience the same problem with lows. I suspect the more we talk about this, the more we’ll find out this is a common occurrence for people with Type 1.

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If you find you also experience emotional valleys with hypoglycemia, it’s important to track how your mental health changes in relation to fluctuations in your diabetes management. It’s also important to have a plan of action in place when hypoglycemia occurs, and to be willing to reach out for help if you can’t take care of your low, or your depression, yourself. We can’t be expected to think straight when a low comes, so it’s best to create an easy-to-follow plan and have some kind of buddy system in place to help you deal with your low, and the emotional toil that accompanies it.

When all else fails, seek professional help, both from your endocrinologist and a qualified mental health counselor.
To learn more about mental health counseling for people with Type 1, go to “Should You Go to a Diabetes Psychologist?”

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James Samson is a native of Jefferson City, Missouri where he began his dance training at age eight. He received a B.F.A. in dance with a minor in business from Southwest Missouri State University, then went on to study as a scholarship student with the David Parsons New Arts Festival, Pilobolous Intensive Workshop, and the Alvin Ailey Summer Intensive where he was selected to perform in Paul Taylor’s Airs set by Linda Kent. Mr. Samson has danced for Charleston Ballet Theatre, Omaha Theatre Company Ballet, Omega Dance Company, New England Ballet, Connecticut Ballet and the Amy Marshall Dance Company. He joined the Paul Taylor Dance Company in February 2001.

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