A UCLA study in 2016 found that more than half the adults in California and a quarter of teenagers had diabetes or pre-diabetes. Diabetes is especially rough because it affects your whole life. There are no vacation days. There are no “rewinds” to prevent onset. What are some of the emotional challenges that can trigger or result from a diagnosis of diabetes? How can this affect glycemic control?
A diagnosis of diabetes doubles the possibility of having clinical depression or symptoms. I would recommend monitoring for signs and symptoms of depression so that these can be addressed- rather than complicate the management of diabetes or create additional suffering.
What about Diabetes-related distress? Diabetes distress is not the same as depression and not everyone that has diabetes distress is depressed. Diabetes distress, which was first researched in the 1990s, refers to an emotional state where people experience feelings such as stress, guilt, or denial that arise from living with diabetes and the burden of self-management. Recent estimates suggest that around 45% of people living with Type 2 Diabetes suffer from associated distress. For more information on diabetes related distress and coping, click here.
Naturally, our emotions can affect our motivation to follow through on healthy behaviors related to nutrition and exercise- which are key to blood glucose management. Here's some quick suggestions (in Clifford & Curtis, 2016) to be aware of emotions and cope with them so that you feel empowered with self management behaviors:
feel right after eating it? How do you feel 1 or 2 hours after eating it? Did the food give you energy or make you feel sluggish? How does your stomach feel? This type of conscious
eating practice will begin to change your relationship to food- and can help you as you are
trying to use healthy nutrition behaviors (Kabat-Zinn, 2013).
2) guilt trap: When you aren't able to meet your expectations, you may want to give up. There may be negative thoughts that lead to feelings of failure and loss of motivation. Can
you revise your thought to something like "This week was a good start.. if I change my plan, I can be more successful next week since I am not used to exercising like this"?
3) exercise as a punishment trap: Based on the concept of "calories in, calories out", exercise can be viewed as a way to "make up" for one's eating "sins." This mentality sets up negative feelings
towards both food and exercise, which isn't helpful! How can you guide your food and activity choices so that they bring you joy and happy living? While it is important to follow a nutrition and fitness plan that support glycemic control, playing the guilt and shame game should be left
out of the equation.
Click here for information on prevention of Type 2 Diabetes.
I can help you feel less burdened and more confident and joyful again. Let's discuss a plan for how we can work together to meet your needs! For more information on how therapy can help, visit my diabetes treatment information page.
If you or someone you care about is living with diabetes and feeling down, depressed, or overwhelmed by this condition, call or email me.
<3 Be Well !
All blog posts from Dr. Soo Hoo are provided for educational and informational purposes only. As Dr. Soo Hoo is a licensed clinical and health psychologist, we must make it clear that nothing on the blog is intended to constitute medical or psychological advice, consultation, recommendation, diagnosis, or treatment. If you are concerned about your health, please seek appropriate care in your area.