Diabetes has many psychological effects that don’t get much attention. Research has found that 40 percent of people with diabetes experience depression or psychological distress at one time or another. When a person with diabetes is not doing well psychologically, it effects their quality of life, and also can lead to poor diabetes management.
Diabetes affects every aspect of a person’s life. The day-to-day management of the disease can lead to weariness, fatigue, and depression. In fact, depression is twice as prevalent in those with diabetes as it is in the general population.
Six Psychological Effects of Diabetes
Here are six of the emotional problems that might be experienced with diabetes:
- Anger. Anger can be common when first diagnosed with diabetes. People might dwell on their situation and how unfair it seems. Anger contributes to poor emotional wellbeing.
- Depression. Isolation, anxiety, weariness, and more can lead to a periods of depression in people with diabetes. Depression can elevate glucose levels and lead to poor glycemic control.
- Diabetes distress. Diabetes distress is different from depression. It’s specifically related to the burden of daily management of diabetes, and can lead to burnout.
- Eating disorders. Eating disorders affect many people with diabetes. These can range from compulsive eating to diabulimia, an eating disorder in those with type 1 in which people take less insulin in order to lose weight.
- Needle phobia. This occurs when seeing a needle causes a physical and emotional response including anxiety, increased heart rate, and nausea. Needle phobia can lead to not taking proper medications for diabetes.
- Burnout. Diabetes burnout occurs when a person is sick of managing the disease each day and quits taking their medications. This can be very dangerous to health.
How to Help a Loved One
If you have a loved one with diabetes, it’s important to acknowledge their emotional distress. Take the time to listen to them without telling them what to do. Be careful with what language you use to describe them, for example use “person with diabetes” instead of “diabetic. ” Avoid language that implies diabetes is their fault. Try to be supportive and let your loved one know you are there for them. Educate yourself on diabetes so you can be prepared to talk to them and help out when needed.