One of the more commonly missed signs of diabetes is frequent mood changes and irritability. Those who have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes often experience disruptions in their typical mood and behaviors.
Large and small fluctuations in blood sugar numbers, added stress of diabetes management and other factors can all contribute to irrational behavior and moods.
Causes of Irritable Behavior Due to Diabetes
Irritability and mood changes are typical comportment in those without diabetes, however, when you add in additional contributing factors such as slow or rapid changes in blood glucose levels, these behaviors can become even more prominent.
The changes in their levels don’t necessarily have to be quick to affect the mood in those with diabetes. Any decrease in usual target levels from 80-130 mg/dl can cause a slight change in someone’s mood.
However, when you experience hypoglycemic (low blood glucose) periods, this can increase aggravation and confusion in your typical behaviors. Extended periods of hyperglycemia (high blood sugar levels over 250 mg/dl) can create a perfect storm of emotions for irritation and depression to occur.
In all situations, mood changes are usually only temporary and will cease once your blood glucose levels have gotten back into a more balanced target range.
Trying to decrease high and low fluctuations by figuring out a proper management routine that works for you can help to keep changes in your mood and behaviors at a minimum.
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How is It a Sign of Diabetes?
In terms of recognizing irritability as a sign or symptom of diabetes, you will also want to watch out for fatigue. Fatigue tends to go hand and hand with it when it comes to both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. When you experience high blood glucose levels for extended periods, which is typically the case with undiagnosed diabetes, you may find you’ve been not feeling well and feel more tired than usual.
Being fatigued on a frequent basis will also contribute to mood fluctuations. When your blood glucose levels are higher, your body tends to put in extra effort to compensate for the deficiencies its experiencing. This can lead to an increase in fatigue and also feeling impatient.
This behaviour is presented in the same manner as a symptom for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. The only difference between the two is those with type 1 diabetes are unable to bring their blood glucose levels down without the introduction of insulin. This can lead to prolonged periods of such feelings and behaviors.
For those with type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance is what causes blood glucose levels to be higher. However, they still produce their own insulin reserves and over time while their levels will trend higher for extended periods, their own natural insulin production will help to reduce these levels, helping to relieve some of the symptoms they are experiencing.
How to Recognize the Symptoms When They Occur
That overwhelming feeling you get when things seem to be spinning out of your control is the start of feeling irritation and annoyance. Diabetes, in fact, creates the perfect breeding ground for such feelings to occur.
Getting to the Root
When you first are diagnosed with diabetes, people tend to think “Why me?”, “Why is this happening?” Diabetes can really change up your lifestyle drastically when you are not used to the management and the care it requires. This can become overwhelming and stressful leading to feeling quick-tempered.
Add onto this the instability of blood glucose numbers and it may seem like controlling your moods is impossible, but it is not. Learning to recognize the symptoms of irritability when they first happen starts with learning why the feeling is occurring in the first place.
There are a few things YOU can do to help bring yourself down when you feel that your mood change is occurring. These include:
- Determining the source and why it’s occurring (As we discussed above)
- Reducing your alcohol or caffeine intake
- Watch for the little things that set you off, these usually are the key sources
- Gain a better perspective on your situation and why you are becoming more infuriated at certain times than others
- Reduce any negative energy around you
- Go and take some time for yourself
- Reconnect with the compassionate side of you, this can really help
- Meditation and yoga
Medical Treatment Options
Sometimes when you are unable to control mood swings on your own, it’s important first to remember that it’s not your fault, sometimes it takes additional methods to help treat and control irritability.
You may speak to a professional about your feelings, which can help you. The professional is also well placed to give you effective management skills in dealing with the moods.
Prevention and Promoting Happiness
The first step in preventing it is by working with your doctor and discussing when your symptoms of crabbiness first seem to occur and what is taking place. This can really help to determine how preventing and treatment can help.
You can promote long-term happiness by following your doctor’s orders and the steps listed above. A few changes to your lifestyle and habits can do a world of wonders when it comes when it comes to the promotion of mental health and happiness.
Long-term risks of not getting help
Not being able to control annoyed behavior in the long—term can lead to an increased risk of depression as well as other mental health conditions. This is why it is important that once you start to recognize signs and symptoms of irritability you should talk to your doctor to figure out how to prevent and treat these symptoms. Having depression can majorly effect the quality of your diabetes management as you may lose interest in taking care of yourself.
Other Possible Causes
Diabetes isn’t the only cause of hypersensitivity. Life, in general, can cause anyone to become dissatisfied at one time or another. Learning what makes you susceptible to feeling in such ways as the root cause can help not only you learn how to control and prevent it but also your doctor.
Is it true that diabetes can make my loved one irritable?
Yes – due to the low glucose levels, they may be feeling that way. Some symptoms of low glucose levels are anxiety, impaired judgement, mood swings, fatigue amongst many other. The stress of having to manage and deal with diabetes on a daily basis can also affect people’s moods.
I have noticed that my husband has been acting moody in recent times. Could he have diabetes?
If you believe that the cause behind your husband’s moodiness is diabetes, ask him to bring this up to your primary care taker. They would set your husband for a diabetes screening test to determine if he indeed has it.
Do symptoms of irritation go away if blood sugar levels are controlled?
The good news is that once your blood sugar raises, your mood will get better too. Efficient management of diabetes and checking your blood sugars regularly will help you with your mood.
Can these feelings also be a manifestation of depression?
If you constantly feel irritated and find your mood in the dumps in the regular, it will be worth it to speak with a profession to see if you have undiagnosed depression. It is very important to take care of your mental health and treat your depression as it can cause disruption to your diabetes management.
I don’t seem to have any other symptoms of diabetes besides feeling irritable. What should I do?
It is always best to consult a professional at any time you are in doubt about the status of your health. Self-diagnosing is not productive and may prolong whatever symptoms you are dealing with longer than usual. Once diabetes is ruled out as a diagnosis, you can speak to a therapist to see if you can get to the root of your mood swings.
I’ve heard that, along with effective management of diabetes, meditation and yoga can help with moodiness. Is that true?
We highly recommend that you seek out any therapeutic ways of dealing with the way you feel. Meditation helps in reducing your body’s blood pressure, which in turn will help alleviate stress. Yoga, in addition, will also help you with reduce the levels of your stress, lower blood pressure and help in overall diabetes management.
Over to you
If you notice that you or someone you love seems to be more irritable than normal, it may be a sign of undiagnosed diabetes. You should speak with a doctor as soon as possible to discuss with them how these symptoms have been affecting you. Remember though that feeling exasperated on its on isn’t a sure sire sign that you have diabetes. This is why speaking with your doctor will help you determine what the root cause is.
TheDiabetesCouncil Article | Reviewed by Dr. Jerry Ramos MD on August 28, 2018