Diabetes is considered a physical condition and most people have hardly ever thought about mental aspects of living with it. Meanwhile, just diabetes diagnosis itself can often awake fear and cause anger, denial, depression or eating disorders.
Managing the balancing of everything that is necessary to live well with the disease can be overwhelming. Even when you do everything that is supposed to be done, diabetes can be unpredictable and frustrating. And when you aren’t able to do everything you are supposed to, thus increasing the risk for complications, which can result in blindness, stroke, amputations, cognitive decline and decreased quality of life, it can cause feelings of guilt, anxiety and hopelessness.
Mental health problems caused by diabetes that are often underestimated or ignored, but are just as important as physical health include:
Anger. Anger is a common and completely natural response to the diagnosis. People diagnosed with diabetes become angry with it, wondering “why me?” They consider it unfair, don’t want to control it and hate it.
Fear. Diabetes mellitus can make you feel threatened as living with this chronic condition seems full of dangers – complications, comorbidities and insulin reactions. It’s natural to fear these threats. However, if fear response prevents you from managing diabetes, it becomes a serious problem.
Denial. Denial following diabetes diagnosis is quite common. Often people refuse to believe that something has happened to them, thinking that there must be a mistake. This first reaction is a natural part of accepting the diagnosis and usually is not a problem. However, if a person keeps on denying the diagnosis, trouble that stops from learning what everyone must know about keeping yourself healthy begins.
Depression. Diabetes and depression often go hand in hand because the stress of diabetes management. The patient may feel alone and set apart from their friends and family because of extra work. If a diabetes complication occurs, there may appear the feeling of losing control, which makes you feel frustrated, sad and eventually depressed.
Eating disorders. People with diabetes often develop eating disorders, such as bulimia, anorexia and binge eating. These disorders often arise from depression associated with the disease. Thus, patients may deliberately skip insulin doses to lose weight, or may vice versa start eating at night because of the diet they have to stick to during the day. This can result in weight abnormalities, poor glycemic control and increased number of diabetes complications.
Emotional issues must necessarily be addressed as they can compromise the ability to perform self-care and contribute to poor glycemic control. Emotionally unstable patients are less likely to adhere to the demanding medication, required monitoring regiments and underestimating the importance of blood sugar measuring, resulting in poor diabetes outcomes.
Moreover, anxiety, stress and depression are known to elevate blood sugar even when regular medication is taken on time. Therefore, if you feel hopeless or there’s something preventing you from managing the condition, don’t wait long to get help. Talk to your healthcare provider who will help you recognize what’s going on and fight back. If necessary, he will refer you to a mental health specialist.