July 8

Diabetes and the Associated Mental Health Challenges

Diabetes is one of the most common illnesses that most people are diagnosed with. In 2015 alone, 30.3 million people in the U.S. had diabetes. That is about 9.4% of the population. There may be a chance that one of your friends or family members has diabetes, and you do not even know about it. One out of every four people do not know they have diabetes. Have you ever met someone with diabetes?

Can you picture yourself in their shoes? Did you consider how it might affect their mental health? The same questions can apply to you if you have been diagnosed with diabetes recently. Is there a sudden change in your attitude towards life? Living with diabetes is not something to be ashamed of, and it is treatable.

There have been many successful case studies about people who lead an ambitious, whole life while living with diabetes. But to conquer this, you need to be aware of mental health conditions associated with diabetes and if you or someone you know may require help.  This article will discuss diabetes and the associated mental health disorders.

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a disease that occurs when your blood glucose is too high. Blood glucose, also known as blood sugar, is the primary energy source in the body and comes from the type of food you eat. Insulin made by the pancreas helps the glucose from food to be absorbed by your cells in order to generate energy. The problem is that sometimes your body doesn’t produce enough insulin, and glucose stays in your blood and does not reach your cells. There are different types of diabetes that a person can get.

Type 1 diabetes is when your body does not make insulin, meaning your immune system destroys the cells in your pancreas that make insulin – this occurs mainly in children and young adults. The dangerous part of having type 1 diabetes is that you have to consume insulin every day to stay alive. Type 2 diabetes is when your body does not make or use insulin as it is supposed to. You can develop type 2 at any age in your life, but it mainly occurs with middle-aged or elderly people.

The most common diabetes is type 2, about 90 to 95 percent of cases in adults are type 2 diabetes. Gestational diabetes develops in women when they are pregnant. Most of the time, this type of diabetes goes away after the baby is born. If you were exposed to gestational diabetes while pregnant, there is a chance that you can develop type 2 diabetes later in life. The question most asked is what health problems can diabetes develop? These include heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, nerve damage, or foot damage.

What is Mental Health?

Mental health refers to how people feel, think and act when they are facing life situations. Mental health affects how people handle stress, communicate and relate to other people, and decision-making. It also influences the person’s confidence, self-assurance, and how they live their lives. All aspects of your life are affected when you suffer from mental health disorders. A mental health disorder can happen to anyone at any time, but most conditions occur when someone is going through trauma, life-changing events, illnesses, or grief. Other reasons for mental health can transfer genetically. Reported genetically transferable mental illnesses include depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, dementia, eating disorders, or schizophrenia.

Diabetes and Mental Health Challenges

Living with diabetes can give rise to mental health challenges because it is a life-changing situation. It can be a terrifying thing initially, and mental health conditions are born out of such cases. Here are some of the mental challenges of living with diabetes that an individual may struggle with:

Diabetes Distress

This condition describes the emotional toll that someone can go through when living with diabetes. In the beginning, it can place a lot of strain on a person when managing living with diabetes. People can feel overwhelmed, scared and insecure about their abilities when it comes to managing diabetes. What does one do when you are exposed to new information that will change your life? You go onto Google and do research – this is a mistake. When researching long-term effects and health problems associated with diabetes, people’s stress levels go from 0% to 100% really quick.

Diabetes and Anxiety

Anxiety is your body’s natural response to stress. It is a feeling of fear or apprehension about what’s to come. Some people have anxiety before they are diagnosed with diabetes, while for others, the fear of managing diabetes triggers the anxiety. Anxiety becomes a problem when it is negatively affecting daily life. Symptoms of anxiety include nervousness, unable to stop worrying, easily annoyed, tightness in the chest, upset stomach, and increased heart rate.

Diabetes and Depression

Depression is a constant feeling of sadness and a loss of interest in life. Depression is common among people with diabetes. Some people have depression before being diagnosed with diabetes. Depression can increase the likelihood of developing diabetes because of medications, unhealthy eating plans, and little physical activity. When a person with diabetes is not self-assured and confident, depression is likely to develop because when you do not feel good on the outside, it will reflect on how you feel on the inside.

Diabetes and Eating Disorders

As part of living with diabetes, there can be an increased focus on body image, food intake, and weight. If a person is too obsessed with this behavior, there is a likelihood of developing unhealthy weight loss tactics such as bulimia or anorexia. Eating disorders are a severe medical and mental health issue for every person out there but are especially dangerous for people living with diabetes.

It is essential to look after yourself, physically and mentally. If you are a person living with diabetes, or you know someone affected by it, take care of yourself and know when to get the help you need.

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