World Diabetes Day: How diabetes can affect your mental health
- World Diabetes Day: People with diabetes may suffer from diabetes distress. One can be irritable, aggressive or feel low if the sugars levels are fluctuating or with the fixed regimen that one has to follow.
World Diabetes Day 2021: While diabetes is known to increase risk of many diseases from heart ailments, stroke to kidney diseases, the metabolic disorder's impact on mental health is no less. Dealing with diabetes requires much more than taking medication regularly. One needs to be vigilant of their blood sugar levels all the time while eating the right food, right quantity of it at the right time. Due to fluctuation in blood sugar levels, a person is also bound to feel low or irritable at times, which could affect their relationship with people in general.
People with diabetes may suffer from diabetes distress. One can be irritable, aggressive or feel low if the sugars levels are fluctuating or with the fixed regimen that one has to follow.
"Any health complication can affect your mental health. Similarly, dealing with diabetes is not a one-directional job, it brings a lot of mental health issues with it which is known as diabetes distress and adversely affects your mood. Disturbed sugar levels lead to mood swings," says Dr. Srishti Puri, PhD, CDE, Behavioural Expert and Patient Experience Manager, Breathe Well-being.
Common mental health issues in diabetics
There are certain mental health conditions that could be triggered by imbalance in sugar levels such as low energy, being lethargic, anxiety, and irritation. "In hyperglycemia, the patient can feel euphoric whereas in hypoglycemia, the patient feels low on energy and is irritable," says Dr Puri.
"Psychiatric disorders particularly Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and eating disorders are common in people living with Diabetes," adds the expert.
While the mood swings experienced by diabetics are generally not permanent and disappear once the blood sugar level returns to normal, steps must be taken to prevent these symptoms from turning into a full-blown depression or anxiety episode.
What is diabetes distress?
Diabetes distress is a term used often for people living with diabetes. This is a condition where a person experiences various feelings like denial, stress, anxiety, guilt, the inability to self-manage, and depression.
"A person living with diabetes and mental health comorbidities leads to a compromised adherence to treatment and thus increases the risk for serious short- and long-term complications resulting in blindness, amputations, stroke, cognitive decline, decreased quality of life, and premature death," says Dr Puri.
Tips to prevent diabetes distress
Balanced and monitored diet: With a balanced, regular and timely diet, one can keep a check on sugar levels.
Physical activity and exercise: A lethargic lifestyle negatively impacts sugar levels so being active and exercising regularly can elevate mood and control the glucose levels in the body.
A support group or community approach: Support groups for people living with type 2 diabetes can prove beneficial for their mental health as they get a platform to share their feelings in an empathetic and sensitive environment.
Caregiver Support: The family environment being loving and supportive can help in increasing the overall quality of life of individuals living with diabetes.
Family and friends: Diabetes distress can be fought with the help of family and friends.
Spirituality as a way of coping: Taking up spiritual practices has shown an improved quality of life and positive emotional well being.
Medication: Proper medication and keeping a constant check on your sugar levels helps to sustain sugar levels within the normal range.
Be patient: When dealing with diabetes, keep your expectations low to overcome them in a day or a week. Remember, small changes, constant efforts, and perseverance can bring unexpected results but it takes time. Hurrying the process only increases stress, anxiety, and other mental health problems.
Diabetes self-management programme: To avoid being a victim of diabetes distress, some assistance from self-management can help a lot. Health coaches can help to maintain optimum weight and advise an adequate diet plan. These efforts and small accomplishments can boost confidence in reversing diabetes. So enrolling in self-management programs and support networks can be proved a positive step towards a healthy lifestyle.