Mental health is greatly affected by type 1 diabetes due to both physical and psychological reasons that are associated with diabetes type 1.
Diabetes adversely affects mental health. On the other hand, mental health issues have a direct impact on blood glucose and other complications of diabetes.
Anxiety is associated with elevated levels of adrenaline and other stress hormones which can directly increase blood glucose levels.
Similarly, uncontrolled blood glucose is associated with frustration, anxiety, and depression.
Type 1 Diabetes and Mental Health:
Type 1 diabetics are more prone to struggle with emotional issues like depression, anxiety, and disordered eating. However, all of these conditions are treatable.
It’s crucial to pay close attention to how having diabetes or taking care of someone who has diabetes affects your mood.
Speak with any member of your diabetes care team with whom you feel comfortable, including your doctor, diabetes educator, or diabetes care manager.
They can help you locate mental health care from a social worker, psychiatrist, counselor, or therapist.
Having support is essential for managing diabetes. Sometimes talking to a friend who also has diabetes might be helpful.
You can experience periods of discouragement, anxiety, frustration, or exhaustion from managing your diabetes on a regular basis as if diabetes were controlling you rather than the other way around.
Maybe despite your best efforts, nothing has happened. Or, despite your best efforts, you have a diabetes-related health issue.
These overpowering emotions, sometimes referred to as diabetic distress, might make you develop bad behaviors, stop monitoring your blood sugar, and even forget about scheduled doctor’s appointments.
Most diabetics experience it, if not all of them, and frequently follow years of effective care. Diabetes discomfort affects 33% to 50% of diabetics in any given 18-month period.[Ref].
Stress and Anxiety Related to T1DM:
Stress can manifest as an emotion, such as fear or rage, as a bodily response, such as perspiration or a beating heart, or both.
You may not even treat yourself as properly as you typically would when you are under stress.
Because stress hormones cause blood sugar to vary erratically and because stress from disease or injury can cause blood sugar to increase, your blood sugar levels may also be influenced.
Long-term stress may result in new health problems or make current ones worse. Trying to treat and control diabetes is a major cause of stress and your mind reacts to being stressed by making you feel emotions like rage, anxiety, or fear.
Diabetics have a 20% higher threat of developing anxiety than people without diabetes.[Ref]
Depression Associated with Diabetes:
Depression is a medical condition that results in depressed feelings and frequently a lack of interest in previously enjoyed activities.
It occurs mostly due to the decreased activity of amine neurotransmitters in the CNS. It may interfere with your ability to manage your diabetes and perform effectively at work and at home.
Your chance of developing diabetic complications including heart disease and nerve damage increases when you cannot effectively regulate your blood sugar levels.
Diabetic patients experience depression two to three times more frequently than non-patients. A diagnosis and therapy are only given to 25% to 50% of diabetics who also have depression. [Ref]
Before they cause depression, deal with normal emotions including stress, sadness, rage, and denial.
Here is how the following emotions can manifest in diabetics.
Diabetes is the ideal environment in which anger may flourish.
It is that inner voice that keeps saying, “Not me.” Most patients experience this when they are initially diagnosed.
Persons with diabetes are more likely to experience despair than people without the condition.
Apart from these causes, psychological influence is another important cause of depression, especially when the person thinks about the future of his/her family.
The majority of the time, treatment, whether it be counseling, medicine, or both, is highly effective. Depressive disorders frequently worsen rather than improve without therapy.
Contact your doctor immediately for assistance in receiving therapy if you suspect that you may be depressed. The earlier you seek help, the better for you!
How Do You Spot Any Condition Related to Mental Health?
The very initial step in getting support for your mental health is to seek what type of issues you have.
Check for these signs if you’ve been feeling particularly depressed, blue, or distant from activities in your life: [Ref]
Sometimes you worry that you are a burden to others and feel that you “never do anything correctly.”
Loss of pleasure:
Suddenly you stop being interested in performing the activities you formerly found enjoyable.
Suicidal thoughts come directly to your mind and think that by committing suicide you will do good to others.
Changes to your sleep habits:
It may include difficulty falling asleep, frequent night-time awakenings, or a desire to sleep longer than usual, even throughout the day.
Change in appetite:
It can go in both directions. Either you start eating more or you start skipping your regular meal, resulting in weight gain or loss respectively.
You experience more melancholy in the morning than you do during the day.
Lack of concentration:
It prevents you from watching TV or reading because other ideas or emotions come in the way.
Feelings of constant fatigue or exhaustion are there.
Too tense or restless:
Stress or tension makes you go crazy.
You can’t fall back asleep after waking up earlier than normal.
Note: It’s time to get treatment if you have three or more of these symptoms, or even just one or two but have been unwell for two weeks or longer.
A diabetic teenager’s depression may manifest differently. Depression in teenagers can result from:
- Declining grades in school
- Leaving friends and interests behind
- Anger, irritation, or agitation.
How Do You Take Care of Your Mental Health?
It’s important to monitor your blood sugar levels, administer insulin as prescribed, organize your meals, and attend to your physical demands.
It requires a great deal of labor and can be emotionally taxing. It is common to feel depressed or worn out from treating diabetes. Asking for support is a sign of strength.
In order to effectively manage your diabetes, you must maintain your mental and emotional well-being. More than half the fight is having a positive self-image, which enables you to take care of yourself.
One can maintain his/her mental and physical state by avoiding the negative thoughts from clouding the brain and instead of it, killing time in activities he/she likes a lot.
Discomfort associated with diabetes can resemble depression or anxiety, but medication cannot be used to treat it successfully. These methods, however, have been demonstrated to be helpful:
- Make sure you’re getting diabetic care from an endocrinologist. He or she is more likely than your normal doctor to be more knowledgeable about the difficulties associated with diabetes.
- Request a recommendation from your physician for a mental health professional who focuses on long-term medical issues.
- Seek help from a dietician who can help you in losing weight which will ease your diabetes complications.
- Get moving; even a little stroll can have a relaxing impact that lasts for hours.
- Practicing calming techniques like yoga or meditation.
- By making a call or text to a supportive friend (not someone who is stressing you out!).
- Stealing a moment for “you.” Stop doing whatever it is you’re doing. Try getting some fresh air or reading something entertaining to relax.
- Two important therapeutic techniques which are cognitive-behavioral therapy and dialectical behavioral therapy are also useful for the depression associated with diabetes.
How Do You Seek Help?
Despite not being frequently thought of at first, emotional support is crucial in the treatment of diabetes.
Making connections with other diabetic victims who get struggle with counting calories, frequent blood glucose checks, and managing the many highs and lows (both physical and emotional) of living with diabetes can make all the difference.
Do not feel like you are the only one in this cycle of stress, anxiety, distress, and depression. There are many people like you who will thoroughly understand your point of view and the struggles you face on a daily basis. There are many support groups that you can look for online.
If you are not comfortable with talking to strangers about your condition then surely your family members or friends can be there for you. So, do not feel shy, and remember that you will have to take the first step.