The effects of diabetes on the brain

Sugar is the main nutrient and energy source for the brain. Due to fluctuations in glucose, disturbances begin at the cellular level, and a gradual death of brain tissues occurs.

Brain layout

Some signs of the disease do not appear immediately, especially when associated with high plasma sugar levels. The brain coordinates the interaction of nerve fibers, damage to which as a result of complications of diabetes mellitus leads to changes in thinking.

Mental manifestations of damage to blood vessels and nerves of the brain:

  • emotional instability and irritability;
  • violation of concentration;
  • lethargy;
  • memory impairment;
  • migraine;
  • noise and ringing in the ears;
  • indifference to others.

Over time, disorientation in space, aggression, visual and auditory hallucinations appear.

Impact of diabetes on human behavior

Disease detection is becoming a difficult form of social adaptation. Each patient is difficult to perceive the identification of the disease.

A person’s behavior changes, he denies the presence of endocrine pathology, tries to adapt and understand what he is sick with, to accept what can no longer be corrected. Aggression towards others appears.

This is how diabetes affects the human psyche. Doctors have identified three main syndromes that appear in diabetic patients.

The first is neurotic . The syndrome is characterized by instability on an emotional background, a person is offended for any reason, becomes irritable. 

The second is asthenic . This condition is manifested by frequent mood swings, harshness towards other people, and a hostile attitude. The patient does not perceive the disease, denying its presence. Sleep is disturbed, insomnia appears, during the day – on the contrary, a drowsy state. 

The third is depressive . It is characterized by a deterioration in mood, depression. Over time, this leads to serious depression, which the person is unable to cope with and is forced to seek help. The patient develops anxiety, heart rate quickens, hysteria begins. Indifference to life is formed, as if it is already ending and it is impossible to change anything. 

Diabetes mellitus from the very beginning has a serious impact on human behavior in society. It is difficult for people to get used to the presence of an incurable disease. Hence, mental disorders, nervousness, aggressiveness.

Non-compliance with the diet

Mental disorders are observed when deviating from the rules of nutrition. Diabetes mellitus is a serious illness caused by absolute or relative insulin deficiency.

Proper nutrition is one aspect of a healthy lifestyle. It helps to reduce weight, fight obesity. Thanks to this, the mental state is normalized.

However, improper nutrition can also be a consequence of a mental disorder, which is called compulsive overeating in medicine . The patient does not understand why he eats so much. He eats even when there is no appetite.


The main cause of outbreaks of aggression in diabetes mellitus is a disruption in the functioning of the pancreas, the organ responsible for the production of insulin. Aggression is manifested by a high degree of exhaustion, increased fatigue and contributes to the development of other mental ailments and ailments of a somatic nature.


  • involuntary trembling of the fingers;
  • increased irritability;
  • retarded thinking;
  • weakness;
  • migraine;
  • myalgia.

Secondary signs of aggression are pallor of the skin, asymmetry in body temperature, decreased hemoglobin levels, sometimes dysmenorrhea in women and impotence in men.


Doctors call endocrine disease a mystery disease because it has many complications.

Nervousness manifests itself in neurasthenia, psychasthenia, hysteria.

Mental disorders in diabetes are more often observed among elderly patients due to atherosclerotic lesions of the cerebral vessels.

Many diabetic patients are wondering how to get rid of their nervousness. This condition requires serious attention. Sometimes it is enough to drink a course of sedatives at home, and sometimes hospitalization is required. Nervousness manifests itself in hysterical seizures, the patient rushes at strangers, bites, scratches, for no reason begins to scream or laugh.


The most common occurrence is depressive psychosis. This condition occurs in 50% of young people with type I diabetes.

Depression is considered a brain disorder. MRI shows that the brain looks different in people suffering from this condition.

How are depression and depressive psychosis related to diabetes? Lifestyle issues and the difficulty of managing endocrine disease can cause complications that can lead to depression.

The mental state is characterized by:

  • decreased energy;
  • loss of interest in previously liked activities;
  • depressed mood;
  • a feeling of worthlessness;
  • poor appetite.

Depressive psychosis leads to feelings of hopelessness and hopelessness, despair. The condition is accompanied by insomnia, weight loss, physical and mental sluggishness. Some patients have thoughts of suicide, death.


The connection of this disease with diabetes mellitus was noticed by medical researchers in the 19th century.

Individuals with diabetes mellitus tend to behave in schizophrenia. They have a certain predisposition to frequent mood swings.

Improper production of insulin leads to mental disorders. This occurs with hyperglycemia and overweight.

Also, the schizophrenic state occurs due to an excess of the NET transporter, which captures the neurotransmitter dopamine (the hormone of happiness) and converts it into norepinephrine . Dopamine deficiency causes cognitive deficits and triggers the first signs of disorder, including social isolation and depression.

Advice. Violation of the diabetic regimen (inaccuracies in diet and regimen of prescribed medications, lack of proper rest, physical and emotional overload) can cause coma. And she, in turn, can cause many mental disorders. Therefore, a diabetic must treat his condition and behavior very carefully and responsibly.

The human brain is very sensitive to glucose. If in type I or II diabetes mellitus there is a high blood sugar level or diabetes is poorly controlled, hypoglycemic attacks occur, then all this negatively affects the patient’s brain.

Elevated blood sugar and its effect on the brain

Some of the symptoms of diabetes on the brain do not appear immediately, especially if they are associated with high blood sugar.

According to experts, with diabetes, after some time, a person has an increased risk of damage to blood vessels, including small blood vessels in the brain. This damage destroys the white matter of the brain.

The white matter is the most important part of the brain, with the help of which nerve fibers interact. When nerve endings in the brain are damaged, a person experiences various changes in thinking (for example, vascular cognitive impairment or vascular dementia).

Vascular cognitive impairment can occur in anyone with type I or type II diabetes, although there are some differences in risk. The longer a person has had diabetes, the more likely they are to develop vascular dementia. But it has been observed that people with type I diabetes, which is well controlled, are much less likely to develop it.

Patients with type II diabetes mellitus are more susceptible to the development of various vascular complications of the brain, as they tend to have poor metabolism, low levels of good cholesterol (HDL, HDL), high triglycerides and high blood pressure, and they are most likely to be overweight. weight or obesity.

Therefore, in order to avoid various damage to the vessels of the brain in diabetes mellitus, it is important to be able to control blood sugar levels well.

Sometimes people try different medications for diabetes for a long time before switching to daily injections of insulin. It is very important not to waste precious time experimenting, but to start monitoring blood glucose levels immediately after the onset of the disease.

In 2010, the Joslin Diabetes Center (USA) made an amazing discovery about an interesting aspect of brain function: diabetes mellitus affects the production of cholesterol in the brain. The brain produces its own cholesterol and malfunctions if the amount of cholesterol is not enough. The researchers found that cholesterol synthesis in the brain falls below normal levels in some types of diabetes in mice.  

“This reduction in cholesterol can affect the nerves involved in the regulation of appetite, behavior, memory, and even pain and movement,” says Dr. Kahn, who led the experiment. “So it could have far-reaching implications for people with diabetes.”  

Is hypoglycemia better or worse?

If the patient is in good control of his diabetes, then it is easier for him to prevent the development of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). But it should be remembered that low blood sugar has far more serious and obvious consequences for the brain than high.

Even mild hypoglycemia is usually more difficult for patients to tolerate. Low glucose levels impair mood and complicate the thought processes of the brain. The person may have a headache, dizziness, poor coordination, and it may become difficult to walk or talk. Severely low blood sugar levels can cause seizures or convulsions, fainting, or hypoglycemic coma.

Repeated episodes of hypoglycemia can cause serious problems.

If blood sugar levels drop in sporadic cases, it probably will not create long-term effects on the brain. But if low blood sugar is often observed in the blood, the patient may stop noticing this condition, and this poses a great danger.

This condition, where the brain has trouble recognizing low blood sugar levels, is called “hypoglycemic unawareness.” A person ceases to notice the usual early signs of hypoglycemia: nausea, hunger, tremors, cold or clammy skin, and rapid heartbeat.

Usually, these symptoms are enough for a diabetic to wake up on their own at night due to low blood sugar and eat something sweet to stop a hypoglycemic attack. But with hypoglycemic ignorance, the patient cannot wake up and his blood sugar level continues to decrease to values ‚Äč‚Äčthat are life-threatening.

Also, hypoglycemic ignorance can catch a person off guard while driving and lead to an accident.

So far, scientists have not made definitive conclusions about whether repeated episodes of hypoglycemia cause long-term memory problems or the risk of developing dementia. One large study found that low blood sugar did not have long-term effects on memory or the ability to think in people with type I diabetes. But another study found that there is a relationship between the occurrence of severe hypoglycemic episodes and an increased risk of dementia in older people with type II diabetes.

Careful control of diabetes mellitus is essential, researchers say. Low blood glucose will not lead to dementia, but the patient will feel terribly bad. High blood glucose, on the other hand, will not make you feel much worse, but it can cause problems with dementia.

Can Diabetes Cause Alzheimer’s?

Various studies do suggest a link between diabetes and Alzheimer’s. People with type II diabetes are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s as people without diabetes. However, scientists are still trying to figure out if diabetes is actually the root cause.

Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by local deposits in the brain of a protein called amyloid beta. In some people with Alzheimer’s, beta-amyloid forms clumps that prevent nerve cells from communicating with each other.

The pancreas, where insulin is produced, contains similar proteins that also cause cell damage and death. These processes of destruction of beta cells in the pancreas and brain cells are very similar – perhaps they are interrelated.

Vascular cognitive impairment (a possible side effect of diabetes) is another cause of Alzheimer’s disease. This introduces some confusion. In chronic disease, it is difficult to find out why the cells have lost their functionality. It is impossible to say with 100-percent certainty who has Alzheimer’s disease due to amyloid plaques, and who due to vascular pathology.

American scientists are conducting studies trying to find out if warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease can be found in people with insulin resistance. In this case, functional magnetic resonance imaging is used to study brain activity in people with different levels of insulin resistance – both during mental rest and when performing various tasks for memory work.   

Output. Each person is responsible for his present, on which his future depends. Diabetes is a condition that requires the ability to “negotiate” with it. Constant control of glucose levels, adherence to medical recommendations, diet, physical activity and rest are the reference points that will help to avoid the catastrophic consequences of the disease and to regulate the quality of your life.

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