Effects of Mindfulness on Diabetes Mellitus: Rationale and Overview

Curr Diabetes Rev. 2017;13(2):141-147. doi: 10.2174/1573399812666160607074817.


Diabetes mellitus (DM) is an emerging global healthcare problem and its prevalence is increasing at an alarming rate. Despite improvements in both medical and pharmacological therapies, a complex medical condition may demand a diversified approach, such as: drug therapy, healthy diet and exercises, diabetes education programs, adherence to medical treatment and active participation of the patients in their lifestyle changes, such as stress management. The concept of mindfulness is here defined as the awareness that unfolds from the intention to attentively observe the current experience in a non-judgmental and non-evaluative way. This state of awareness can be enhanced through the use of mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs), which have been associated to many physical and psychological health indicators. The aim of this overview is to offer the rationale and potential benefits of mindfulness in the control of DM and its complications.

Methods: a narrative review of the current and updated literature available on online database and which came up using the terms "mindfulness" and "diabetes mellitus". Mindfulness-based Interventions (MBIs) can be seen as preventive and complementary interventions in DM, particularly for the relief of symptoms related to depression and anxiety in diabetic patients and also in the management of other factors, including mindful eating, physical exercises and treatment adherence. Although many studies only present research protocols, mindfulness seems to have beneficial effects on all aspects of diabetes, including incidence, control and complications. Furthermore, longer term and more carefully controlled trials are necessary in order to draw consistent conclusions on the beneficial role of MBIs on DM.

Keywords: Adherence; diabetes mellitus; health promotion; mindfulness; narrative review.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diabetes Mellitus / psychology
  • Diabetes Mellitus / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Mindfulness*