Diabetes is a Beast To Deal With!

Dean Benson
4 min readApr 8, 2024

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Diabetes, a chronic condition marked by elevated levels of glucose in the blood, affects millions of people worldwide. While its physical manifestations are widely recognized, the psychological and emotional toll it takes on individuals is often less visible but equally bad. The intricate interaction between diabetes and mental health is critical, influencing not only the management of diabetes itself but also the overall quality of life of those affected. This essay explores seven ways in which diabetes can impact an individual’s mental health.

1. Anxiety and Stress

Living with diabetes involves constant vigilance: monitoring blood sugar levels, managing diet, and keeping up with medication or insulin therapy. This relentless self-care regimen can be very overwhelming, leading to heightened levels of anxiety and stress. The fear of potential complications, such as vision loss, kidney disease, or cardiovascular issues, adds another layer of anxiety. Individuals with diabetes may constantly fear hypoglycemic (low blood sugar) events, which can be life-threatening if not addressed promptly, contributing to an ongoing state of worry.

2. Depression

Depression is significantly more common in people with diabetes compared to the general population. The stress of chronic disease management can lead to feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, which are the hallmarks of depression. The bidirectional nature of diabetes and depression compounds the problem; depression can make diabetes management more challenging, which in turn, can worsen depression. Individuals may struggle with the motivation required for effective self-care, leading to a vicious cycle of deteriorating mental and physical health.

3. Diabetes Distress

Distinct from general psychological stress and depression, diabetes distress refers to the unique emotional burdens and worries associated with managing diabetes. This can include frustration over fluctuating blood sugar levels, fatigue from constant management, and concern about the future of one’s health overall. Diabetes distress is particularly insidious because it directly correlates with diabetes management; the more distressed an individual feels, the less likely they are to adhere to treatment protocols, potentially leading to poorer health outcomes. A really vicious cycle of “not good at all”.

4. Eating Disorders

The emphasis on diet and weight control in diabetes management can sometimes lead to unhealthy eating behaviors. Conditions such as bulimia, anorexia, and binge eating disorder can emerge or worsen in individuals with diabetes, particularly in those with Type 1 diabetes who may manipulate insulin doses as a means of weight control, a dangerous practice known as “diabulimia.” These eating disorders not only deteriorate mental health but can have catastrophic effects on blood sugar control and overall physical health.

5. Cognitive Decline

Long-term diabetes, particularly when poorly managed, is associated with cognitive decline, including diminished memory, attention, and executive function. This cognitive impairment can add another layer of difficulty to diabetes management, creating a feedback loop that exacerbates both the mental and physical complications of the disease. The stress of experiencing cognitive decline can also lead to depression and anxiety, further impacting an individual’s mental health.

6. Social Isolation

The complexities and demands of managing diabetes can lead to social isolation. Dietary restrictions and the need for regular blood glucose monitoring can make social outings, such as dining out, more challenging. Additionally, the fear of hypoglycemia may discourage individuals from leaving their homes, leading to withdrawal from social activities and isolation. This isolation can exacerbate feelings of depression and anxiety, making individuals feel alienated and misunderstood.

7. Fear of Complications and Mortality

Living with diabetes means living with the constant threat of serious complications, including heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, and amputation. The fear of these potential outcomes can be a significant source of mental distress, impacting daily functioning and overall mental health. Moreover, the awareness of the increased risk of premature mortality associated with diabetes can lead to existential angst and a profound sense of vulnerability.

Conclusion

The relationship between diabetes and mental health is complex and multifaceted, affecting individuals physically, emotionally, and socially. It’s imperative that healthcare providers not only treat the physical symptoms of diabetes but also address the psychological impacts. Integrating mental health care into diabetes management can help mitigate these effects, improve quality of life, and enhance treatment outcomes. Support groups, psychological counseling, and stress-reduction techniques such as mindfulness and exercise should be considered essential components of comprehensive diabetes care. Recognizing and addressing the mental health challenges faced by individuals with diabetes is crucial in providing holistic and effective care.

Dean Benson, “The Dean of Rock & Roll”, Middays on SKY7music.com on the “Only Classic Rock Channel”

Also see: www.deansfavorites.com and www.expertcarguy.com

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Dean Benson

Loooong time married, 2 daughters, (I don't scare easily) On Air Personality SKY7music.com Middays the "Only Classic Rock Channel"