Living with diabetes blog

Holiday stress can trigger feelings of depression

By Sara J. Carlson, R.N., C.D.E. December 22, 2015

People with diabetes are twice as likely as the average person to experience depression. The anxiety and stress of the holiday season can trigger depression even if you're usually content.

We're bombarded with images of happy people eating, drinking and being merry with family and friends. In reality, many people are estranged from their families or feel lonely and isolated this time of year.

Moreover, you see others indulging in an overabundance of holiday sweets and alcohol. You may resent that you can't participate, let yourself go and then feel guilty about it.

If you're feeling down, talk to your provider. There are effective treatment options for depression. Treatment often includes both talk therapy and antidepressants. Some antidepressants aren't appropriate if you have diabetes because they may cause weight gain or increase your blood sugars.

If you think about harming yourself, we strongly urge you to seek professional help. Please call 1-800-273-8255 which is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

There are other measures you can employ to improve your mood:

  • Help others. Work at a soup kitchen, organize a gift drive, read to a child or help your neighbor with something. Reaching out to others makes us feel good about ourselves and reminds us that we aren't alone in facing challenges.
  • Move. Movement is great for both diabetes and depression. Exercise, walk the dog, dance or clean to your favorite music, cut your own Christmas tree.
  • Have fun. Take time to do things you find relaxing or fun.  Watch your favorite comedy, take an evening drive to look at holiday lights or curl up with a good book.
  • Let go of expectations. Don't feel you need to live up to the unrealistic expectations depicted in the media or on Facebook. In the long run, over-doing, over-spending and over-indulging can lead to even greater feelings of despair. A simple, low-key holiday may be just what the doctor ordered.

Warm wishes,


Dec. 22, 2015