Managing diabetes is a vast undertaking involving a complicated set of behaviors. A person with diabetes needs to monitor blood sugar, diet, exercise, take medications, attend many appointments, and treat hypoglycemic and hyperglycemic events. There are many effective medications for treating diabetes. However, behavior change is also essential for people with diabetes to maintain their health. In addition, there are psychological and social issues that may affect the health of a person with diabetes.
Thinking about Diabetes. Diabetes management affects everyday decisions about issues such as which new foods to try, finances, travel, sleep, and physical activity. People who have diabetes sometimes avoid trying new things or changing their schedule for fear that it will adversely affect blood sugar. Sometimes the need for a strict schedule can lead to family conflict or feelings of social isolation.
Relating with Others. Family, friends, or co-workers may not understand how to manage diabetes, but still try to help. They may say, "You can't eat that because of your diabetes" without realizing how hurtful this can be. The "diabetic diet" approach is actually a thing of the past. The current "all foods fit" approach is about having healthy eating habits and eating in moderation, not dietary restriction.
Diabetes Affects Emotions. There may be times when blood sugar is too high or too low even when all the recommendations for diabetes management are being followed. This can lead to feelings of deep frustration and even helplessness. People with diabetes are twice as likely to experience depression compared with those who do not have diabetes. However, it is important to remember that people with diabetes may be experiencing these emotions for reasons that have nothing to do with diabetes, such as relationship problems or work-related stress. Stress is a major concern for people with diabetes because it can raise blood sugar levels.
Working with a psychologist who understands the effects of diabetes is essential for maintaining physical and emotional well-being. Psychologists are experts in the mental, emotional, and behavioral elements needed to maintain a healthy lifestyle. They are trained to help address the social, economical, political, and behavioral burdens for those living with diabetes. If you or a loved one are experiencing trouble managing diabetes or the mental and social issues that come along with this chronic illness, it is important to contact a qualified mental health professional who can support you on your journey to improved health.