Diabetes is a lifelong condition, so when you find out that you have it, it may trigger intense feelings. Learning that you have diabetes may leave you confused, upset, and even scared. These feelings are all valid and understandable.
But if you feel like you are not coping as well as you should be, and if it is already affecting your daily life, there are things that you can do to lift your mental state.
Read on to know more about the most common mental health issues that diabetic patients suffer from, and how to prevent them from getting worse.
Identifying Your Emotions
People diagnosed with diabetes are more likely to suffer from mental health issues like anxiety, depression and diabetes distress.
Laying a good and solid foundation can help you manage them. Before looking for ways on how to improve your emotional and mental state, it is best to identify what type of mental health issue you are suffering from.
Diabetic patients often feel fear and worry due to the unpredictability of their condition. Those types of feelings are normal, but if they are so constant that they already affect your work, relationships, and your daily life, then they are a cause for concern.
You may be suffering from anxiety if you have symptoms like these for at least two weeks:
- Constant worry
- Feeling nervous or antsy
- Hard time relaxing
- Heartbeat that’s faster than normal
- Muscle tension
- Tightness in your chest
- Upset stomach
Remember that symptoms such as sweating, fast heartbeats, and trembling are also signs of low blood sugar (5). To make sure you don’t mistake it for anxiety, you can test your glucose level.
After getting diagnosed with diabetes, one of the most common feelings to have is sadness. This is heightened once you start making lifestyle changes.
However, depression is deeper than just sadness. It saps your energy and it makes you feel hopeless. (1) It is important to take note if you are experiencing the following:
- You no longer find certain activities fun to do
- You eating habits changed, so you weight constantly increases or decreases
- You feel anxious especially when alone with your thoughts
- You feel empty inside, even when surrounded by people
- You feel like a burden to your family and friends, and you feel guilt.
- You can’t focus properly
- Either you can’t fall asleep or you sleep for hours
- You don’t have the energy to do things even though you are not physically tired
- You are having suicidal thoughs, or you constantly think about hurting yourself
If you have at least three of the symptoms listed above, or if you have been feeling sad and have had at least one symptom for more than two weeks, you may be suffering from depression.
Let your doctor know if those feelings get overwhelming or if they do not improve when you do the things that you enjoy, spend time with family and friends, and take good care of yourself.
Specialists can recommend a support group, counseling, or other treatment to help you recover and make you feel like yourself again.
Managing your diabetes daily can be overwhelming, especially if there are other things that need your constant attention. Sometimes, you may feel like you need a break from the routine. This type of feeling is called diabetes distress.
Diabetes distress is more than just worry (3). It is the toll diabetes has on your mental state, and it is a mix of frustration, anxiety, stress, and depression. Everyone with diabetes runs into it at some point.
However, if it is constant and if you feel like you are getting burned out, then it is already a cause for concern.
Consult your doctor if the distress becomes too much to bear. You may be recommended to join a support group, counseling, and other activities that will help you unload the burden.
How to Improve Your Mental Health
Taking care of your emotional and mental health will help you take better care of your physical health. (4) Start to make the adjustment as best you can, and with help from your doctor and support from your family and friends, you will slowly begin to get used to keeping up with your blood sugar tests, doctor appointments, medications, diet, and exercise.
If the intense feelings linger too long and you find yourself stuck in a cycle of emotions that makes it more difficult to manage your diabetes, you can do the following:
- Learn as much as possible about diabetes
Information is power, and understanding your condition and how to manage it will let you see solutions where you first saw concern or confusion.
Do not hesitate to ask questions about topics that you do not understand. Over time, you will learn more about your condition and eventually adjust to living with diabetes.
It helps to keep a notebook to write down your plans for the day. Take note of your medications, the schedule of your blood sugar level test, your workout schedule for the day, and your ideas for healthier eating habits.
You can share your plans with your doctor so they can change it if they have to.
- Be good to yourself
You may feel worn down from everything. Sometimes, you may even blame yourself for the condition. If you begin having these thoughts, you can balance that by finding healthy ways to treat yourself so you can take a quick break from your routine.
You also need to get enough sleep to help you feel better and more energized. If you have problems sleeping, then you can take sleep aid capsules.
Also, look for fun activities to keep you active and busy, such as going to the gym, running, yoga, walking, swimming and more.
- Reach out
Having a serious condition like diabetes can make you feel cut off from the world. Seek out family, close friends, or a support group, and talk to them about your feelings.
You can also go to a therapist so you can have an outlet for your emotions. Therapists are equipped to handle different situations and they know how to improve your holistic health. They can even help you learn new skills so you can face the challenges of having diabetes.
You Are Not Alone
Living with a chronic condition like diabetes, coping with biological and hormonal factors plus needing to manage the condition on a daily basis may increase the risk of depression, anxiety and distress.
The best way to improve your mental health is by talking about your feelings and having experts and people that you trust around you.
Remember that you are not alone in this fight, and even though the journey takes a lot of getting used to, it is not impossible to adjust to it.