If you learn that you have diabetes or any chronic condition, it’s normal to feel a variety of emotions. But it’s important to understand that it’s not normal to have persistent negative feelings like sadness or anxiety.
These emotions can adversely affect your quality of life and your physical health. Consequently, you should talk with your doctor to learn more about the impact of diabetes on mental health.
Can Diabetes Affect You Mentally?
Diabetes is a condition that can affect you both physically and mentally. In fact, there is a direct connection between diabetes and emotional health and mental well-being.
When you’re first diagnosed with diabetes, you may feel scared or angry. As you start learning about managing your condition, you might feel overwhelmed by all the information. Later, when you’ve gotten comfortable with your daily routine, it’s possible that you’ll experience frustration about the way diabetes has made your life more challenging.
These emotions are common and not problematic if they resolve relatively quickly. If they persist, you should take action to address them.
Impact of Diabetes on Mental Health
When you understand that diabetes can affect you mentally, you’re better prepared to spot the signs of mental health issues. Some of the problems diabetes patients experience include:
Depression is more than simply feeling sad. It’s a mental health condition in which you consistently lack interest in activities you usually enjoy and struggle to focus on your work, education, relationships, and other important aspects of your life. Additional symptoms include sleeping too much or being unable to sleep, eating too much or too little, feelings of hopelessness, and thoughts of death or suicide.
People with diabetes have a higher risk of developing depression than those who don’t have diabetes. However, diabetes is treatable, so you shouldn’t just “deal with it” on your own. Your doctor can prescribe counseling, medication, and other treatments to help you feel better.
Everyone experiences stress and anxiety from time to time. But if you feel that way most or all of the time, you may have an anxiety disorder. Like depression, anxiety is a treatable condition, so it’s essential to ask for help.
Diabetes distress is a term used to describe a condition in which you feel discouraged, frustrated, or overwhelmed by your condition. It makes life less enjoyable and can adversely affect your physical health by making you less inclined to follow your treatment regimen. Your doctor can help you understand and address diabetes distress.
Tips for Coping with Diabetes
Your care team can help you deal with the mental and emotional effects of diabetes. However, there are also several steps you can take on your own. These actions can help you feel empowered even in the face of a difficult diagnosis. They include:
- Learn about diabetes. The things that worry us tend to be less scary when we fully understand them.
- Set goals for managing your diabetes. Having a “plan of attack” for improving your eating habits, exercising regularly, etc., helps you feel more in control of your health.
- Stay connected. Learning you have a chronic condition can make you feel isolated and alone. To counteract that feeling, stay in touch with family, friends, a counselor, or a diabetes support group. Their encouragement can motivate you and help you stick to your treatment plan.
- Journal about your situation. Writing down your thoughts can help you sift through and understand them. And that makes it easier to take action to resolve any negative emotions they generate.
- Focus on today. Thinking about how diabetes may affect your life a year, five years or a decade from now can be stressful and counterproductive. Instead, try to spend more time in the present. What steps do you need to take to manage your condition today? And just as importantly, what fun/exciting/rewarding/challenging things will you do today?
Get Diabetes Treatment and Mental Health Care at Baptist Health
Nobody wants to be diagnosed with diabetes. But if you are, you can still lead a happy, productive, enjoyable life. Our skilled and compassionate diabetes and behavioral health care teams are here to help.