Diabetes and Domestic Violence


Diabetes is an ugly disease, affecting the physical health of those who have it.  It may also imagesaffect the mental health of victims.  Anecdotal evidence suggests that it may be the cause of some verbal and physical violence in the home.

What we know.

  • 29.1 million Americans have diabetes, according to a 2014 study by the Centers for Disease Control.
  • Of these, 8.1 million are undiagnosed.
  • Another 86 million are pre-diabetic, meaning they are at risk for development of the disease.
  • Diabetes results from a hormone imbalance (insulin) that results in excessive glucose (sugar) in the bloodstream.
  • Diabetes places a person at risk for heart disease, kidney disease, blindness, risk of amputation, and death.  It was the seventh leading cause of death in 2010 in the US.
  • Diabetes may develop at birth or occur in adults.  Risk factors include poor diet and obesity. (1)

What we’re not sure about and need to know

Excess sugar in the blood is anecdotally associated with mood swings and “irrational” behavior.  Most researchers have focused on eating disorders and the willingness of those suffering from diabetes to make the necessary behavior changes to control the disease.  However, that may not be the whole story.

  • The American Diabetes Association apparently considers “diabetic rage” to be a reaction to the diagnosis.

Diabetes is the perfect breeding ground for anger. Anger can start at diagnosis with the question, “Why me?” You may dwell on how unfair diabetes is: “I’m so angry at this disease! I don’t want to treat it. I don’t want to control it. I hate it!” (2)

  • However, there is both research on children and anecdotal evidence among adults that mood swings and rage behavior  occur independent of diagnosis.
    • A mother talks about a child with Type 1 Diabetes and how poor behavior is linked to low or excessive blood sugar levels. (4)
    • Joslin researchers reported a link between high levels of glutamate (a neurotransmitter produced by glucose) to symptoms of depression in people with type 1 diabetes. (5)
    • “Behaviors such as aggression, delinquency, and hyperactivity In children with type 1 diabetes, are associated with high blood glucose (sugar) levels.” (6)
    • There is a blog thread on people who have direct experience with violent behavior associated with abnormal glucose levels. (7)

Gonder-Frederick and colleagues comment on the lack of research on the social and behavior impact of hypoglycenia (abnormal blood glucose levels).(8)  Balhara points to the existence of a relationship between diabetes and psychiatric disorders, and also to the lack of research focused on this link.(9)

Mary de Groot and her colleagues focus on the relationship between diabetes and depression, anxiety disorders and more severe forms of mental illness (e.g., bipolar disorder).(10)

In my own family, my grandmother was apparently prone to verbally abusive outbursts as a young woman.  These outbursts apparently stopped when she was diagnosed as diabetic and placed on an insulin regimen.

My wife’s first husband was verbally and physically abusive.  He was also diagnosed late in life (after their divorce) as diabetic, and was about to remarry when he died.  Could earlier diagnosis have put a stop to the abuse?  There’s just no way to know.  Hindsight only goes so far.

What you need to consider:

  • If you know someone who is abusive to family or  coworkers, does the person have characteristics that might suggest they are diabetic?  For example, are they overweight?  Does their demeanor change before and after meals? 
  • Have they been tested for diabetes?  Are they willing to be tested?
Caveat:  I am a researcher, not a doctor.  If you think there is an issue in your family, you need to consult with a medical professional and determine whether diabetes might be a factor in what you are seeing.  If it is, it needs to be managed.  It’s not something you can ignore and hope it goes away.
  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “National Diabetes Report 2014.” http://www.cdc.gov/diabetes
  2. American Diabetes Association, “Anger”, http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/complications/mental-health/anger.html
  3. Liberty Medical, “How does elevated blood sugar affect a person’s behavior and mood?” https://libertymedical.com/diabetes/question/how-does-elevated-blood-sugar-affect-behavior-and-mood/
  4. Insulin Nation, “Bad Behavior or Blood Sugar Swings?”  http://insulinnation.com/living/bad-behavior-or-blood-sugar-swings/
  5. Joslin Diabetes Center, “Emotions & Blood-Sugar Levels: How Diabetes Can Affect Your Mood,” 8 July 2014.  http://blog.joslin.org/2014/07/emotions-blood-sugar-levels-how-diabetes-can-affect-your-mood-2/
  6. “Sugar Levels Affects Behavior of Children With Diabetes,” 9 October 2007. http://www.diabetesincontrol.com/sugar-levels-affects-behavior-of-children-with-diabetes/
  7. “High Blood sugar and irrational behavior,” Blog discussion, 24 March 2006. http://www.ourhealth.com/conditions/diabetes/high-blood-sugar-and-irrational-behavior
  8. Gonder-Frederick LA, Clarke WL, Cox DJ. “The Emotional, Social, and Behavioral Implications of Insulin-Induced Hypoglycemia,” Semin Clin Neuropsychiatry. 1997 Jan;2(1):57-65.
  9. Yatan Pal Singh Balhara, “Diabetes and psychiatric disorders,” Indian J Endocrinol Metab. 2011 Oct-Dec; 15(4): 274–283.
  10. Mary de Groot, Sherita Hill Golden, Julie Wagner, “Psychological Conditions in Adults With Diabetes,” American Psychologist, 2016, Vol. 71, No. 7, 552–562.

Child Abuse Awareness

From Lyn’s blog

Who Protects the Child?
©Lyn Crain
Denial, not my daughter or son
They wouldn’t hit anyone
Maybe they yell at lot
Or sometimes give a swat.But that is not abuse
Where do people get these views?

Based on the unique number of victims, an estimated 78 percent (78.3) suffered neglect, an estimated 18 percent (17.6) were physically abused, an estimated 9 percent (9.2) were sexually abused, an estimated 8 percent (8.1) were psychologically maltreated, and an estimated 2 percent (2.4) were medically neglected. In addition, an estimated 10 percent of the victims (10.3) experienced “other” types of maltreatment such as “abandonment,” “threats of harm to the child,” and “congenital drug addiction.”





via Child Abuse Awareness — lyncrain

Checking out of the holidays


lights-1088141__340In listening to people this season, I’ve learned that there are good people who are no longer emotionally engaged in the winter holidays.  This is more than just not giving gifts.  Nor is it a function of religious affiliation.  However, this is real and each person has there own compelling reason for opting out.

Unless you listen, you may not know who these people are.  They may even put up decorations and wish others a “Happy Holiday” or “Merry Christmas.”  However, they aren’t having one themselves.

We know that (as of 2014) 9% of Americans were not giving gifts for the holidays.  That number may be understated.

  • Only 70.6% of Americans self-identify as Christian according to Pew.  Of course, Jews may give Hanukah gifts, but only 1.9% of Americans say they are Jewish.
  • Household finances are a major reason for abandoning gift-giving.

There are other reasons.  As on blogger notes

“If you’re anything like this writer, Christmas was just never a thing in your house.” Lieu

I don’t know about that blogger, but the people with whom I’ve spoken cite a number of specific reasons for loss of enthusiasm for the holiday.  This is a small sample, so I can’t quantify statistically how common these issues are, or which is more important.

  • The holiday is associated with loss of a loved one
  • Growing up in a dysfunctional home
    • An alcoholic parent who binges on the holidays
    • A workaholic or absentee parent
    • An abusive parent
  • Abuse by a minister or priest
  • Having a dysfunctional spouse (alcoholic, abusive or absentee)
  • Abusive relatives or in-laws

Any of these things can forever darken a holiday.  For the victim, the linkage is tattooed on the memory; he or she just wants to get past the day.

The best you can do as a third party is understand and show compassion.  You can’t make the person feel differently than they do.

Even compassion is hard when the victim won’t talk about what happened.  That’s where your listening skills have to be acute.  If you want to help, you need to hear “between the words.”

So the person who says “Bah Humbug” to the holiday may not be a Grinch or Scrooge, but may be someone in need of understanding. Or someone with whom to take in a movie.



Body cams


ben_franklinBen Franklin said, “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”

Police body cams can save lives and lawsuits.  There’s remarkable evidence from field trials supporting that claim:

In 2006, police officers in the United Kingdom tested body cameras and found that the technology enhanced the collection of hard-to-refute evidence and resulted in fewer cases going to trial. In 2012, a similar field test took place with the Rialto, Calif., Police Department. The 12-month experiment randomly tested body cameras on officers during their shifts. The cops used cameras from Taser International, which were water resistant, captured video in full color and had a battery life of 12 hours. The test results were startling: When the cameras were turned on, use of force by officers dropped 60 percent and complaints against the police fell nearly 90 percent. [Newcombe]

635902870224132893-bodycamHowever, technology changes, and new technology raises new issues with these devices.

A new (and relatively shoddy) report from the Department of Justice confirms that some body cameras used by police have facial recognition technology as well as some ability to detect weapons on an individual.  There is no comment on the accuracy of either technology.  We know that police radar guns have a statistical measurement error, but what’s the equivalent for facial recognition?

That changes the interaction between police and civilians.

It makes perfect sense that an officer would want to know if an individual he is approaching is a known criminal or potentially dangerous.  Certainly, the officer would want to know if the civilian is armed. Heck, I’d like to know that.

If the camera can provide that information, it makes no sense that a body cam would ever be disabled on initial approach to a suspect.  In shootings where the body cam is reported to have been non-working, that becomes more suspicious.  What officer would want to go on patrol with a key piece of equipment out of service?

The body cam raises issues for civilians with permits to carry concealed weapons.  If the officer knows someone is armed, will they approach the civilian differently?  Treat the civilian more like a criminal?  Would that raise the risk of the civilian being shot?

Obviously, protestors lose their anonymity.  Any protestor — whether it’s a protest over a shooting, taxes, firing of a school teacher or flag burning — will be identifiable if in range of a body cam.  There will be an electronic record of those so identified.  How will that record be used?  There are no regulations on that today, as protest is in theory a public act.  Could you lose a job because you participated in a protest?

What controls are there on the use of body cams by private detectives and civilians, or their placement on drones?

If an officer leaves the scene of a domestic violence complaint without making an arrest or report, is there still an electronic record?  Could that record be accessed for use in any subsequent court actions?

Lot’s of questions with no answers as yet.






How Abuse Feels


OK, I’m slightly biased, but the reviewers on Amazon aren’t.  This is an amazing book about the emotions of an abuse victim through the journey from naivete through denial to survival and escape.  It’s told in poetry.

If you know someone who might be a victim, this is for her (or him).


Also on Google Books and Barnes & Noble online.


If you’re a guy or you love a guy, you need to read this


doctor-clip-art-doctor-clip-art-4Testosterone, the ornery male hormone, is now unexpectedly implicated in the risk of dementia.

Let’s put that in English:  you know what Alzheimer’s is, right?  It’s one type of dementia, which is basically the loss of brain function — to remember things, to recognize people, to think.

Now, about Testosterone.  It a hormone manufactured in the body that affects a host of areas and functions — physical and mental:

  • Depression (some people taking depression meds may simply suffer from low testosterone — this needs to be checked)
  • Metabolism and fat processing (you know that weight gain in middle age?)
  • Fatigue
  • Hair growth and loss
  • Muscle mass
  • Bone density
  • Joint pain
  • Libido and erectile dysfunction
  • Sperm production
  • Aggressive/competitive behavior (excessive testosterone levels are associated with indulgence in risk taking behavior including criminal acts)
  • Acne

Is there a link between excessive levels and domestic violence?

There are also ongoing studies relating testosterone levels with heart health, but nothing conclusive at this time.

One of the treatments for prostate cancer is reduction of testosterone levels to reduce tumor growth.  This approach is called androgen deprivation therapy (ADT).  However, the new research shows that persons receiving this therapy are twice as likely to develop dementia as patients not receiving this therapy.

If reduction in testosterone in this patient group doubles the chance of dementia, what about the rest of us who might develop low testosterone naturally?  (For example, I’m below the normal range for testosterone without any therapeutic help.)

The problem is that males lose testosterone with age.  Most see the loss starting at age 40, but some see it as much as 10 years earlier.  One sign may be the need for a larger belt.

Routine blood tests do not include a check for testosterone level, although it is a very inexpensive test to run.  (One doctor referred to it as a $9 test.)  However, if you are using antidepressants or erectile dysfunction meds and the problem really is testosterone, finding out could save you a lot of money and wasted time.

Getting treated for the wrong problem usually isn’t effective.

Therapy involves application of a skin cream or a patch.  If the cream is used (I prefer it), females need to avoid contact with the cream and the area to which it is applied.

If you think you are seeing physical or behavioral changes in yourself or in a loved one, this is one of the items that needs to be checked.

The doctor usually won’t think to check it without being asked.



  1. Davis, Charles Patrick, MD, PhD, “High and Low Testosterone Levels in Men,” http://www.medicinenet.com/high_and_low_testosterone_levels_in_men/views.htm
  2. Nead, Kevin T., et. al. “Association Between Androgen Deprivation Therapy and Risk of Dementia” JAMA Oncology, 2016; DOI: 10.1001/jamaoncol.2016.3662
  3. Pietrangelo, Ann.  “The Effects of Testosterone on the Body,” Healthline, 21 April 2014.  http://www.healthline.com/health/low-testosterone/effects-on-body