Is your diabetes starting to wear you down? Day-to-day worry around this health problem can leave you feeling stressed out, which in turn could worsen your diabetes control. It’s time to break the vicious cycle and we’ll tell you how.
Why Worry About Diabetes Distress?
Diabetes distress refers to the distinctive emotional weight and worries that a person with diabetes faces while managing their condition. Constantly being mindful of blood sugar can take its toll on your mental health. According to a Mental Health America report,
- People who have type 1 or type 2 diabetes are at greater risk of developing anxiety, depression, and eating disorders.
- Depression rates across their lifespan for those with diabetes are twice that of the general population.
If you’ve developed diabetes despite your best efforts, that might make you irritable, anxious, or upset. Unfortunately, much of India ignores this side effect and like other mental health challenges, this too gets pushed under the carpet.
Why does it matter if you are mentally stressed?
- People who are always stressed out and have diabetes are more likely to have poor glycemic control.
- Psychological or mental stress raises glucose levels in those with type 2 diabetes and many with type 1 diabetes.
- It’s more common than you realize, so don’t brush it off as overreacting to the problem. Between 33% and 50% of those with diabetes, on average, experience diabetes distress, in an 18-month period.
Signs To Watch Out For
Fear, anxiety, frustration, and even guilt are common emotions people tend to feel when they are overwhelmed by the daily care and control diabetes needs. Diabetes distress may even manifest as physical signs, such as an unexplained headache or back pain. It could also be a more direct sign of depression like a feeling of hopelessness or lack of enthusiasm for life.
Tips To Cope With Diabetes Distress
1. Accept that It IS real. You’ll need to deal with the distress the same way you’ve dealt with diabetes. Like a problem that needs treating, with specialized help from a medical professional.
2. Get someone to support you. Whether that’s a diabetes support group at work, at home, or just friends you can count on. Professional counselors are also available – ask your doctor for suggestions.
3. Explore cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). This therapy will help you understand your problems better and teach you coping skills to take healthier actions in response to the stress.
4. Learn relaxation techniques. When you are feeling the stress start to rise, these methods will help you tide over the phase without wreaking havoc on your sugar levels. Yoga, meditation, or breathing techniques can help.
5. Focus on one or maybe two goals related to your diabetes at a time to avoid feeling overwhelmed. If you try and tackle all your problems together and can’t make it happen, it can leave you feeling defeated.
6. Get active. Exercise and physical activity can be just the antidote to stress.
7. Sleep like a baby. Don’t skimp on your downtime and make sure you get a good night’s rest. Make that a goal and make it happen.
8. Don’t depend on caffeine, nicotine, or tranquilizers to get you through the day. These are only likely to cause other problems and more stress in the long run.
- Ratnesh, Shivaprasad K S, Kannan S, Khadilkar KS, Sravani G V, Raju R. Identifying the burden and predictors of diabetes distress among adult Type 2 diabetes mellitus patients. Indian J Community Med;45:497-500. Available from: https://www.ijcm.org.in/text.asp?2020/45/4/497/299448
- Diabetes And Mental Health, Mental Health America
- Diabetes And Stress, Diabetes.co.uk
- Diabetes And Mental Health, CDC
- Diabetes And Depression, Mayo Clinic
- Mental Health, Diabetes.org