Identifying and managing diabetes distress: not mad, more likely sad

Linda Beeney



Diabetes distress affects a large proportion of people with diabetes and is associated with compromised self-management behaviours and poorer diabetes outcomes. Identifying high levels of diabetes distress early using a short questionnaire or by raising the issue in conversation with the patient enables specific targeted interventions to improve diabetes care and control and prevent worsening of symptoms.

Key Points

  • Diabetes distress is a common, nonpathological emotional reaction to the stresses of chronic illness.
  • Diabetes distress is associated with impaired capacity for self-management and poorer biomarkers for diabetes health.
  • Diabetes distress is often confused with depression and it is important to differentiate between the two to ensure appropriate interventions.
  • Simple tools are available to identify diabetes distress in routine clinical practice.
  • Treating diabetes distress within the diabetes care team has a significant positive impact on outcomes.

    Picture credit: © Andrew Dyson/Fairfax Syndication.