The Men’s Shed



Welcome to our Men with Diabetes Shed! This offers information about diabetes, wellbeing and mental health and the ways men can be affected by diabetes, as well as information and links out to other resources.

Men with diabetes are at risk of a number of diabetes related complications including heart attack, stroke, kidney and eye disease.  This also includes depression and diabetes distress which men can push aside and try to manage alone. However these problems are best managed with support.  Sharing your worries with someone outside of your own circle can help. It is also important to have someone you trust within your circle of family and friends.

Resources for blokes!

Food and the Aussie Bloke

A Beginners Kitchen cookbook for single men[1]

The New Baby Manual for Dads[1]

E-Male Dec 2012

study for men with diabetes

Thank you to the men who participated in our study for men with diabetes. There were unfortunately not enough participants to go ahead with the analysis of how our service supports men with diabetes. We will include some of the same questions in our current evaluation of our services and share this at the end of the evaluation period.

thank you again to the men who did put their hand up and took the time to complete our surveys!

Erectile Dysfunction – a common problem

A common but not commonly talked about problem, is erectile dysfunction. This can lead to psychological problems which make the erectile dysfunction worse and it can become a vicious cycle. It is important to seek help as there are treatments and management steps you can take. Involving your partner is important as these issues can impact on your relationship so much. Many men find this difficult to discuss with their doctor. However they are used to discussing all sorts of things and that is what they are there for. At diabetes Counselling Online we can offer confidential counselling and advice which can help break down the barriers to talking about issues like erectile dysfunction.

You can read more about erectile dysfunction and its treatments here 

dad and baby beach

Counselling and diabetes education

You can access free, private online counselling and diabetes education via email with one of our counsellors, diabetes educator and dietitian here.

All of our counselling services are free and most of our team live with diabetes themselves. All of us are very experienced in working with people living with diabetes. We have a range of group discussions at our forums here, including a “Men’s Shed” forum – we encourage you to post and share your story with other people living with diabetes.

Join our our Men with Diabetes Facebook group and chat with other men living with diabetes

Understanding Diabetes

Glucose is the basic fuel for the cells in the body. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that is released into the blood and allows glucose to move into the cells.

Type 2 diabetes was thought to develop only when a person was middle aged or elderly, however, with childhood obesity in developed countries reaching epidemic proportions, the prevalence of Type 2 diabetes among children and adolescents is rising. Type 2 occurs when the pancreas does not make enough insulin and can not use the insulin effectively.Type 2 diabetes accounts for about 85 per cent of all cases of diabetes, usually developing in adults over the age of 40. About 80 per cent of people with type 2 diabetes are overweight, while a family history of the disease also increases an individual’s chance of contracting it. Rates in our indigenous population are seven to eight times higher than in other segments of society.

Read more here about type 2 diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes was thought to occur only in children but we now know people can develop type 1 at any age, although it is most commonly diagnosed in childhood. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease where the body destroys the insulin producing cells of the pancreas. Type 1 diabetes is not related to lifestyle and there is no cure. Insulin is needed from diagnosis.

Read more about type 1 diabetes here.

 man in meditation sunset

Men, diabetes and Depression

A common complication that is also not talked about often, is depression. We know people with diabetes have double the rates of depression risk. You can read more on our pages here.

Even without throwing diabetes into the mix, at any given time around one in six Australian men are suffering from depression.

Depression is more than just a low mood – it’s a serious health problem. But there are two good things about depression you always need to remember. The first is that it can be treated; the second is that there is plenty of help available.

Depression is a very common illness and although it affects more women than men, men are less likely to seek help from their GP if they experience it.

Generally speaking, Australian men don’t visit their doctor as often as they should and are less likely to see a doctor if they are not suffering from a serious illness or medical problem.

Other mental illnesses, such as bipolar disorder, are also quite common, yet it’s important to realise that although very different, both depression and bipolar disorder are highly treatable and that people who experience these problems can, in most cases, live very fulfilling, normal lives.

What causes it?

Medical researchers have suggested that depression may be the result of certain chemical changes in the brain that are linked to the regulation of mood. Depression is also often observed in families, which may mean that genetics may play a part.

Other factors may work together to increase the likelihood of developing depression.

These can include:

  • Having a family history of depression
  • Having been depressed at least once before in your life
  • Having another mental illness, like bipolar disorder
  • Stress
  • Taking certain medications (like corticosteroids and some drugs prescribed for hypertension)
  • Having a sleeping disorder
  • Social isolation
  • Abusing drugs and alcohol
  • Relationship problems
  • Experiencing the loss of a close friend, family member or partner
  • Other experiences of loss, such as unemployment or relationship breakdown
  • Poor physical health, or a serious or long term illness.
  • Some groups of men within society are at more risk of becoming depressed, such as teenagers and the elderly.

What are the symptoms?

Depression is easy to misdiagnose because it can present with a wide variety of symptoms that may be general in nature, such as insomnia (trouble sleeping) or fatigue (being very tired).

Different people may present with different symptoms.

Some of the signs of depression may include:

  • Feeling very sad or unhappy, feelings of emptiness
  • Not finding pleasure in anything
  • Feeling like you can not care for your health and your diabetes
  • Withdrawing from friends, colleagues or family
  • Being anxious or always worried
  • Not being able to look after your usual responsibilities
  • Having low energy levels
  • Denying depressive feelings
  • Sleeping more or less than usual
  • Becoming easily irritated
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty motivating yourself
  • Stomach upsets
  • Headaches, backaches and other complaints that are not normally experienced and have no obvious cause
  • Feeling worthless or hopeless
  • Losing interest in activities or people you would usually be involved with
  • Weight loss or gain and/or loss of appetite
  • Loss of sex drive
  • Not paying attention to personal hygiene and appearance as you would do normally
  • Thoughts of suicide

Depression, men and destructive behavior

Men are more likely than women to become destructive when they are depressed. This means men might act in ways that are dangerous to themselves and/or others.

So-called ‘destructive behaviours’ might include:

  • Abusing drugs and alcohol
  • Not seeing a GP when you know something is wrong
  • Violent behaviour
  • Suicidal thoughts or actions
  • Caring very little about yourself and acting recklessly
  • Not caring for your health and your diabetes

Men and those close to them, need to understand that depression as an illness can be treated and that it is often a short-term experience. Men are more likely to focus on the physical symptoms of depression and not the feelings or emotions that come with it. High or low blood glucose can complicate matters as this can lead to mood swings, so it is important to keep tabs on your diabetes if you are experiencing depression. It is common for people experiencing depression to not want to care for their diabetes. Of course this leads to more problems. Seeking help as soon as possible is important.

Treating physical symptoms and not the cause of an illness can be very ineffective and may lead to years of misery and more complicated health issues. Recognising and acknowledging that you may be suffering from depression is an important first step in living a happier life. You are not alone

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Always get help

There are plenty of opportunities to get help if you think you may suffer from depression or if you are close to someone who has depression. If you have diabetes and depression it is important you speak with someone who understands both of these conditions. This maybe somewhere like here, where we understand both conditions, or via different supports. The main thing is that you have support around both conditions.

You can get free e-counselling from our team here.

Here are some other places to get started:
Your GP is always the best place to start. Have a good chat with them and be honest about your feelings and symptoms and when they started. If necessary they can refer you to a specialist such as a psychologist or psychiatrist.

Beyondblue, the national depression initiative, can be contacted on 1300 224 636

Mensline Australia offers 24-hour, anonymous support for men with family and relationship problems especially around family breakdown or separation. They can be contacted on 1300 789 978

Lifeline offers 24-hour counselling, information and referral. Call them on 13 11 14

Lifeline’s Just Ask offers help for people who live in rural areas and can be called on 1300 13 11 14

Remember that depression, just like diabetes, can be managed and in many cases, you can recover from depression. Make the most of your life and seek help if you think you may be experiencing a problem.