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How to Boost Mental Health While Living With Diabetes


by Jane Grant

Photo by Matt Flores on Unsplash

People with diabetes sometimes deal with mental health problems, which are characterized by the term "diabetes distress", according to a study published in the peer-reviewed Diabetes Therapy journal. Diabetes distress comes from the pressure that having the disease brings, as well as the pressures of trying to manage the disease. Many people who have diabetes distress feel a sense of guilt, and some may be in denial about what is happening with their bodies. Stress is likely to go along with these other unpleasant emotions. When people do have diabetes distress or other mental health problems related to having diabetes, they need help. Luckily, there are holistic ways to cope with mental health issues linked with diabetes - from diabetes distress to major depressive disorder and beyond.

Follow instructions from your doctor

Proper self-care, in a physical sense, is vital, as doing what's best for your body, based on instructions from your doctor, will help you to feel as good as possible. When you care for your body as directed, you may have fewer diabetes-related symptoms. These symptoms do have the capacity to negatively impact your state of mind.

For example: some diabetes patients develop deep vein thrombosis, due to changes in their bodies which affect coagulation, according to a study published in the Diabetologia journal. Deep vein thrombosis is a blood clot beneath the skin which may trigger swelling, a feeling of warmth, and discomfort. This kind of diabetes symptom may be treated holistically with special compression socks that are made especially for people with diabetes. When you do what your doctor says, in relation to deep vein thrombosis or any other symptom, it will be easier to maintain emotional stability. Other common symptoms of diabetes include fatigue, skin rashes, and upset stomach. Educating yourself about diabetes and taking good care of yourself will help to ease or eliminate symptoms that might trigger mental health problems.

The psychological impact of diabetes is too often overlooked

Diabetic distress isn't technically depression. Depressive symptoms are prevalent in patients with Type I diabetes, based on information from the American Diabetes Association. Type I diabetes patients must adjust to having lifelong disorders and this can be depressing. Diabetes distress and depressive symptoms may coexist, particularly in Type I patients. So, what can be done about both types of mental health symptoms? Well, a type of therapy known as CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) is a good choice for patients with one or both mental health symptoms. Some patients may need pharmacological assistance, via antidepressants, such as SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), which elevate serotonin levels within the brain. Many patients do well with a combination of talk therapy and medication, but every patient is different.

Take self-care on step at a time

Self-care is important, but thinking about all that you need to do to manage your health condition may be daunting. Experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend training yourself to focus on a single task at a time. When you take this step-by-step approach, you will be less likely to feel overwhelmed, which is good news for your mental health.

Now that you know more about diabetes and how to strengthen your mental health while living with the condition, you'll be ready to care for your mind, body, and spirit. Don't be afraid to reach out if you need help. Start by talking to your doctor about how you are feeling, physically and emotionally.

This article was written by Jane Grant who is a freelance writer. We thank Jane for this work.


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