Home / Glycemic Health / Sugar Coated Depression

Sugar Coated Depression


Mood and blood sugar have a tight relationship. What happens when you get hungry? Most people get cranky or irritable when they go without food and this is not because of a lack of taste or an empty stomach; it’s because of a lack of glucose, the simple sugar that is released from carb foods during digestion.

Glucose is your brain’s fuel and is essential to sustaining life.   So why, then, is everyone trying to eat less carbohydrates? Because too many carbohydrates, and the wrong kind of carbs, can make matters worse.

The Emotional Roller Coaster

Blood sugar imbalances can lead to a roller coaster of emotions in anyone, not just people with diabetes. Eating foods with a high glycemic index puts too much sugar in your system quickly, and puts a strain on your body. Too little glucose can lead to fatigue, irritability, dizziness, poor concentration, forgetfulness, crying spells, blurred vision, excessive thirst or sweating, anxiety and even anger. This can lead to a cycle of eating poorly and experiencing prolonged depression and other symptoms.

Your brain and emotions depend on a healthy range of glucose throughout the day. Spikes and dips in your blood sugar levels lead to uneven moods, and sometimes even extreme mood swings. A stable level of blood glucose throughout the day keeps your hormones in balance which allows your brain and body to use the glucose more effectively.

Sugar Robs Your Happiness Nutrients

The Brain Bio Center in London finds that poor blood sugar balance is often the biggest factor in mood disorders of their clients. Too many refined sugar and carbs, as in highly processed foods, robs your diet of important nutrients like chromium and B vitamins that help to keep your blood sugar stable.

B vitamins are well known for being mood enhancers and your body also uses them to turn sugar into energy. Insulin is the hormone that clears glucose from the blood and it can’t work properly without chromium.

In a study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, people who ate a lot of processed foods had a 58% greater risk for depression. On the opposite end of the scale, people who ate more whole foods had a reduced risk for depression by 26%.

Diabetes and Depression

Blood sugar’s impact on body chemistry and brain function explains why people with diabetes (both types 1 & 2) are twice as likely to be depressed than non diabetic people. The odds are even higher in diabetic women. Regardless of whether you are living with diabetes or not, sugar has an impact on body chemistry therefore it has the potential to affect more than just mood; it can lead to the development of a debilitating mental condition.

Many people with depression experience a decreased ability to perform normal daily functions. In some studies*, one third of the people with diabetes experienced a reduced quality of life because of depression symptoms. Depression can make it difficult to be consistent with diabetes self-care, and that in itself would increase the likelihood of becoming more depressed.

Dietary deficiencies and imbalances that can influence depression:

Blood sugar


Essential fats like Omega 3

Homocysteine levels

Serotonin levels

Vitamin D

Overall Health and Wellbeing

People with either diabetes or depression should take extra care to maintain a nutrient rich diet and manage carbohydrate intake. However, blood sugar management plays an important role in creating overall health and wellbeing, including mental stability, for everyone.

* http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/24/6/1069.full