Add a Mental Health Specialist to Your Diabetes Healthcare Team

By American Diabetes Association

Your mind and emotions are just as important as your physical health. In fact, the two are closely entwined. Living with a chronic condition such as diabetes can be exhausting and annoying. And it can also lead to conditions such as diabetes burnout, depression, and anxiety. Don’t be afraid to bring these issues up, even if your provider doesn’t specifically ask about your mental health.

Mental health specialists are trained to help you cope with these sometimes overwhelming thoughts and emotions. There are a wide range of specialists, so consider your needs and the cost. Here’s an overview of the different types of mental health specialists:

  • A psychiatrist is a medical doctor (MD) who can prescribe medications or other treatments and offer therapy. You may try to find a psychiatrist with experience treating people with diabetes.
  • A clinical psychologist has a master’s or doctoral degree in psychology and training to help people with depression, anxiety, or other problems. A psychologist may specialize in individual, group, or family psychology. They receive a license to practice from their state.
  • A marriage or family therapist has a master’s or doctoral degree in mental health and training in therapy for married couples and families going through stressful periods.
  • A social worker has a master’s degree in social work (MSW) and works across a broad range of categories such as coping with workplace stresses, family and marital problems, and identifying resources in the community for those who need financial, educational, or medical help.

Some health plans cover mental healthcare, while many others don’t offer this coverage. Ask your diabetes care provider for a referral or recommendation to a mental health professional.

You may need to see a kidney doctor, called a nephrologist, if your diabetes care provider recommends it. People with diabetes are more likely to have problems with their kidneys because high blood glucose can damage blood vessels in these organs.