Diabetes distress: What you can do
It’s time to start thinking about summer. This season is a great time to relax and spend time with family. One of the best ways to spend time with your family is during summer vacations, but planning for those can be expensive and time-consuming. At one time or another, we have all heard that exercise has benefits. Some of the most common benefits we tend to hear about are how exercise can help lower your risk for chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes, but the benefits only start there.
People with diabetes are three times more likely than those without the condition to have depression and other negative feelings. The depressive feelings of stress, guilt, and burden that come from managing diabetes every day is commonly called “diabetes distress.” Many people tend to think constantly about their diabetes management and don’t even realize it. They may feel frustrated because they are constantly trying to manage their diabetes, but they aren’t seeing improvements in their health. This may lead to burnout and ultimately depression.
If you are experiencing these feelings, you are not alone. Although health-care providers largely overlooked mental health in people with diabetes, it is becoming a much more common discussion topic between health-care teams and patients.
Diabetes distress can be treated. Health-care teams can measure diabetes distress and work with you to improve mental health through counseling, therapy, and/or medications. The connection between better mental health and improved diabetes outcomes is becoming clearer.
If you are experiencing these feelings, tell someone on your health-care team. They want to help you, but they need to know how and what you are feeling. In addition, tell someone close to you who sees you on a regular basis or helps you with your diabetes management, so they will know to check in with you about your feelings. If you can find a support group focused on these challenges that will help you feel connected as well. When you are feeling physically well, find something fun to do to take a break from dwelling on your diabetes management.
Lora Davidson is the Harlan County Extension agent for family and consumer sciences. Educational programs of the Kentucky Cooperative Extension serve all people regardless of race, color, age, sex, religion, disability or national origin.