Although diabetes is a physical condition, it also has various impacts on your mental health.
Many of the psychological concerns for diabetes patients are unfortunately very common. We will discuss what the psychological impacts on your well being are and how to combat them.
What are the concerns?
Dealing with diabetes is stressful for many reasons:
You, the patient, are responsible for managing your condition.
You must constantly make difficult decisions, such as what to eat or if you are eating out, you might need to know the ingredients within your meal and how it was prepared.
You have to decide how much insulin to take.
You have to decide and organize an exercise schedule, so that you know when to exercise.
You have to learn how to interpret your own glucose reading.
All of these tasks and decisions can certainly be overwhelming, especially since diabetes is a chronic condition.
Managing diabetes is a difficult task, especially when you have other commitments such as work, school, family, and/or friends. Handling this chronic condition is often a big task and it is sometimes difficult to accomplish what you “need” to do to handle this condition. This can cause a great deal of frustration and distress.
This feeling of distress can negatively impact your relationship with your friends, family, and significant other. It can cause you to isolate yourself because you might feel like a burden to others. These broken relationships will as a result cause even more distress.
Some patients have difficulties adjusting their entire lives around this condition until it becomes a part of their daily routine. Patients struggling with depression have a feeling of hopelessness and sadness that seems permanent. Depression can worsen your quality of life and introduce more stress than there previously was in your life. If you have been feeling hopeless for an extended amount of time, more than a week, it would be best to see a professional.
(Source: diabetes.co.uk) The prevalence of symptoms of depression in diabetic patients is about 30% and the prevalence of major depressive disorder is about 10%, which is double the prevalence than in people that don’t have a chronic illness. (canadianjournalofdiabetes.com)
Symptoms of Depression:
Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and helplessness
Pessimism and hopelessness
Suicidal thoughts or attempts
How to combat these issues?
Don’t deny it: It is important to not be in denial about your medical condition. You must realize that this is a chronic illness which requires you to integrate many lifestyle changes in order to take control of your condition. These changes will be difficult at first, but eventually they will become routine.
Relax: Although diabetes is a stressful condition that has many aspects to it, it is important that it will be okay if you forgot to exercise for a couple of days. You have to manage your own mental stress levels well, which can actually help you better manage your blood glucose levels.
Contact a professional: If you are feeling tired and hopeless for an extended period of time, you might have depression. Talk to a professional about your concerns, you can talk to your family doctor who may then refer you to a therapist. If you are a student at the University of Ottawa with a family physician at the UOHS Family Health Team, you can access mental health counselling. For more information, visit http://www.uottawa.ca/health/services/mental-health.
Physical Health: Often, improving your physical health, can actually help you improve your mental health as well. Your mind and your body work together everyday, so it is important to talk care of both. Poor physical health can can cause an increased risk to developing a mental health problem. Also, don’t forget that when you exercise, you release endorphins which can help reduce your stress levels and make you feel optimistic.
Source: diabetes.org and mentalhealth.org.uk