“The root of all health is in the brain. The trunk of it is in emotion. The branches and leaves are the body. The flower of health blooms when all parts work together.” ~Kurdish Saying
The link between diabetes and mental health is complex. Those living with diabetes are more likely to experience depression and anxiety than those without. A diagnosis of diabetes can provoke a variety of emotions, from denial to anger and confusion. These feelings can take a lot of energy and concentration away from understanding the disease and managing the stress of living with diabetes.
Increased stress can lead to decrease motivation to follow an exercise or diet regimen. Prolonged stress for weeks or months can cause fluctuations in blood glucose levels. Sudden changes in blood glucose level can also cause changes in mood and increase irritability.
Behavioral changes due to depression can interfere with diabetes management plans. Symptoms of depression are serious and usually last 2 or more weeks. They include losing interest in activities that were once enjoyed and feeling sad or depressed more days than not over the last two weeks. Although there are different manifestations of depression, those who are depressed may sleep too little or too much, eat excessively, live a sedentary lifestyle, and even not take prescribed medications.
Why is it important to manage emotional health in those living with diabetes?
Learning to manage these emotions ensures that:
- Mood swings are regulated through monitoring of blood glucose levels.
- Negative coping methods, such as smoking, excessive eating, and isolation from family and friends, are avoided.
- The education provided by a doctor or Certified Diabetes Educators (CDEs) is effective and retained.
What are some ways to manage the stress and emotions of living with diabetes?
- Listen to music
- Speak with a supportive friend or family member
- Speak with a Certified Diabetes Educator
How can a Certified Diabetes Educator help with processing these emotions?
Certified Diabetes Educators are active listeners. They understand the complex feelings of those living with diabetes, and can provide guidance and support. CDEs can help to shift perceptions of anger, confusion or denial to develop coping methods for managing diabetes, such as identifying barriers to healthy living and addressing them one-by-one.
If you or someone you know, is struggling with the managing the associated-emotions of diabetes, talk to a medical professional or a Certified Diabetes Educator.