By Dr Pradeep Gadge
Diabetologist, Gadge Diabetes Centre
World Diabetes Day is celebrated annually on November 14 with the aim of increasing awareness of the effects of diabetes and the complications caused by the disease. The number of diabetics in the world stands at 415 million as of 2015. If the epidemic of ‘Diabetes’ were a country, it would come in at third place in terms of population, behind only China and India. While the focus is usually on the physical aspects of diabetes and its serious complications, there is less emphasis on the emotional burden and psychological distress that can come with the disease itself.
According to researches, if the incidence of depression is 5% in the general population, it is as high as 15-20% in diabetics; worse, in diabetics with complications, it is even higher. It is also true: those with depression have a higher risk of developing diabetes. Most clinical and scientific studies agree that there is a bidirectional relationship between diabetes and depression.
Having diabetes changes your life. You have to start monitoring blood glucose levels, taking medications, control what you eat, exercise and some may need to start taking insulin. This can increase the risk of developing anxiety disorders or depression. Diabetes diagnosis can often lead to anger, denial, fear or depression. These can range from mild feelings of irritation through to serious depression.
Diabetes and Anger
Anger is a common response to diabetes, and is completely natural. People who have been diagnosed with diabetes may wonder why it has affected them when many of their friends or relatives do not have the condition. Diabetes diagnosis is unfair, and sometimes anger can lead recently diagnosed diabetics to neglect their diabetes management or diabetes treatment.
Diabetes and Denial
Denial is another common emotion felt following diabetes diagnosis. Denial is a difficult emotion, and happens when people refuse to believe that something has happened to them. Many people experience denial upon diagnosis.
Diabetes and Fear
Fear is another common response to diabetes diagnosis. Fear occurs when contemplating the present and future managing diabetes causes fright. Diabetes is a serious condition that requires regular management, therefore fear is a natural response. However, if fear is preventing you from managing your condition it can become a serious problem.
Diabetes and Depression
Diabetes can be a difficult condition to accept and it is not uncommon for mental health issues such as depression to occur before or following a diabetes diagnosis.
American Diabetes Association has released psycho-social recommendations and guidelines to encourage comprehensive, personalized mental health assessment and treatment as part of routine diabetes care. There are probably two approaches to assessing and monitoring mental health for diabetics – one at the provider end when diabetics visit them for routine consultations, and the other at the diabetics’ end, where they self-monitor their condition.
The good news is that these conditions are treatable. Learning to recognize and understand them can help you manage these conditions. It is very important to look after your physical as well as mental health.
Talk to your doctor so that diagnosis can be made and treatment planned.