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Focusing on Mental Health with Diabetes

Initially being diagnosed with diabetes or even prediabetes can cause unwanted angst and anxiety. The fear of the unknown can become overwhelming and understanding this can help you live a long happy life. However, it is important to take care of your mental health as much as sticking to ones diabetes care plan.

Mental health affects so many aspects of daily life. How you think and feel, handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and attitudes can affect how healthy your body is. Untreated mental health issues can make diabetes worse, and problems with diabetes can make mental health issues worse. But fortunately if one gets better, the other tends to get better, too.

Depression is a medical illness that causes feelings of sadness and often a loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy. It can get in the way of how well you function at work and home, including taking care of your diabetes. When you aren’t able to manage your diabetes well, your risk goes up for diabetes complications like heart disease and nerve damage.

People with diabetes are 2 to 3 times more likely to have depression than people without diabetes. Only 25% to 50% of people with diabetes who have depression get diagnosed and treated. Treatment like therapy, medicine or both is usually very effective. Without treatment, depression often gets worse so it is important to confront symptoms and talk with a healthcare professional.

You may sometimes feel discouraged, worried, frustrated, or tired of dealing with daily diabetes care, like diabetes is controlling you instead of the other way around. Maybe you’ve been trying hard but not seeing results. Or you’ve developed a health problem related to diabetes in spite of your best efforts.

Those overwhelming feelings, known as diabetes distress, may cause you to slip into unhealthy habits, stop checking your blood sugar, even skip doctor’s appointments. It happens to most people with diabetes. Often occurring after years of good management. Up to 50% of people with diabetes have diabetes distress, so know that you are not alone.

Your health care team knows diabetes is challenging, but may not understand how challenging. And you may not be used to talking about feeling sad or down. But if you’re concerned about your mental health, let your doctor know right away.

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