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Is Anger at a Spouse Normal with Diabetes?

When Does Anger Become Abuse?

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Updated May 16, 2008

Is Anger at a Spouse Normal with Diabetes? Flying Colours Ltd./Getty Images

Sometimes there are hard questions asked in the Diabetes Forum. A new member, Raines46, asks if it's normal for a husband with type 1 diabetes to erupt into violent anger and take it out on his spouse. Frustration and anger are often experienced by people who deal with chronic illnesses like diabetes. Fluctuating blood glucose levels can also contribute to mood swings and cause people to exhibit angry behavior. But when does that kind of anger cross the line into domestic abuse?

Raines46 asks, "My husband is 40 years of age and has Type 1 diabetes. I am trying to find out if extreme inappropriate anger is a side-affect of this condition. We have been together for 7 years and have just had a weekend from hell. He goes from calm and saying sorry to purple and screaming abuse; he has, on occasions pushed me over. He isn't always like this, he can go for days/weeks being quite sweet. Luckily the children were with their father this weekend. Outside the home he seems a gentle inoffensive man; his family would never believe me were I to talk to them about his episodes. I am a nervous wreck and terrified of saying something which may set him off. His anger seems to be getting worse. I'd be grateful for any help or advice anyone can give me."

Anger and frustration can be common reactions when someone has a chronic disease like diabetes. It is a lot to cope with, and at times it may really be upsetting to have to deal with diabetes day after day for a lifetime. Plus, physiologically, when someone's blood sugar fluctuates, spikes or drops, it can produce feelings like anger, anxiety, or depression that are really out of the control of the person experiencing them. It may be easy for spouses to overlook or make excuses for angry reactions because of these reasons. However, anger that escalates into physical, verbal, or emotional abuse is not a normal reaction.

Every person has a right to get angry sometimes. But if that anger is expressed violently, to hurt or scare a partner, then it becomes domestic abuse. Abuse can be actual physical contact, like hitting, slapping, pushing, or otherwise inflicting bodily harm, but it can also be threatening, making a spouse feel intimidated or scared. If you are in a relationship that is abusive, it is important to tell someone that you trust: a friend, counselor, social worker, or your healthcare provider. Abusive relationships are often isolated ones, where the abused spouse lives in secrecy and fear. Telling others breaks the silence, and enables the abused partner to more easily seek help.

Raines46 has taken the first step and has broken the silence by posting in the forum. Other forum members replied to her post, offering words of encouragement and advice about both living with a spouse who has diabetes and also dealing with the possibility of domestic abuse.

Read the replies here...

A followup email was also sent to Raines46 to offer information and support. Numbers were provided for the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

If you feel that you are in an abusive relationship, please do not hesitate to seek help.

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