Sujatha Ramakrishna, a clinical psychiatrist, said in an email that people with mental illnesses can be more prone to diabetes and other health problems because they are more likely to make unhealthy choices related to overall health, such as poor eating and exercise habits.
People with mental illnesses who take medication can also unknowingly increase their risk of getting diabetes.
“Antipsychotic medications, also known as mood stabilizers, are associated with an increased risk of diabetes,” Ramakrishna said. “It's recommended that patients who take these medications have their weight and blood sugar levels checked regularly by their physician. Other psychotropic medications, including SSRIs such as Prozac, can also cause weight gain, which in turn increases the chance that patients might develop diabetes.”
Nerina Garcia-Arcement, a licensed clinical psychologist and a clinical assistant professor at the NYU School of Medicine, said in an email that there are many mental health issues to consider that are connected to diabetes.
“If someone has diabetes, this impacts and limits their physical abilities and diet,” Garcia-Arcement said. “This often leads to people experiencing sadness, anxiety, frustration and loss. If there are [amputations] due to complications from the diabetes, this often negatively impacts mental health.”
There are also many contributing factors related to diabetes that can lead to depression.
“The stress related to managing a chronic illness, plus fear/worry about a negative prognosis are excellent causes for depression,” Garcia-Arcement added.
Taking diabetes medication can lead to mental health issues indirectly, in addition to psychiatric medication leading to diabetes in some cases.
“Having to monitor sugar levels and take insulin is stressful, limiting of everyday activities and can lead to worry, stress, anxiety and sadness,” Garcia-Arcement said.
In general, especially if you have a mental illness, it’s beneficial to talk to a mental health professional so they can help with motivation, behavior changes and understanding the link between mood and health so you can maintain good health, she said.