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Psychologists can help people learn to live well with diabetes

Written by Chronicle Staff. Posted in Featured, Health & Wellness

Published on November 14, 2018 with No Comments

As the nation recognizes November as American Diabetes Month, psychologists are sharing an important message about diabetes and mental well-being: With a positive attitude and a strong support network, people can and do live well with diabetes.

Based on data provided by the Center for Disease Control, 9.1 percent of adults in Indiana were diagnosed with diabetes in 2010.  An additional 6 percent of adults had been told that they had pre-diabetes.

Diabetes has significant impact on an individual’s physical health but also on their mental health.   Research shows that people with diabetes are twice as likely to develop depression as people without diabetes.

People with newly diagnosed Type 2 diabetes sometimes have trouble accepting the diagnosis, especially if they feel physically healthy and have yet to experience complications of the disease.

“The list of daily tasks required to effectively take care of diabetes can seem overwhelming,” said Dr. Mary de Groot.  “Many people with diabetes may not know many other people who have it, which can result in feeling isolated.  The disease can also require behavior changes to manage it well. It’s important to remember that you are not alone, and there is help – whether from other people with diabetes or professionals, such as psychologists.”

Indiana Psychological Association and the American Psychological Association offer the following steps to live well with diabetes:

1.     Get the facts. Learn about diabetes and understand the specific diagnosis to make informed decisions. Prior to a visit with a physician or other health care provider, make a list of questions or concerns to discuss.

2.     Accept the feelings.Studies show that people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes may have a range of feelings about their diabetes, which can include feeling depressed or anxious.  Depression and anxiety can be effectively addressed to reduce the burden of diabetes.  Talk to friends and family about your concerns and problem solve healthy ways you can cope together.

3.     Maintain a balanced perspective. Don’t allow diabetes to become the main focus of your life.  While you may need to make some lifestyle changes, the disease doesn’t have to define you as a person. It is important to continue to do the things in life you enjoy, in order to live well with the disease.

4.     Be realistic.Rules that are too rigid are more likely to be broken. Set small goals that are easily attainable to help change behaviors such as eating and activity level one step at a time.

5.     Develop a strong support network. Studies show that people are more likely to follow health routines when they have a strong support network.  Research specific to diabetes patients found those who have support from family and friends have healthier blood sugar levels during times of high stress.

“Psychologists can help people change their behaviors to gradually improve eating habits, activity levels, and overall outlook,” de Groot said. “They can help people learn effective strategies to ensure they regularly test blood glucose, take medications, and complete other diabetes self-management activities. By including a psychologist on their health care team, people with diabetes can learn to better manage their emotions, stress and live well with the disease.”

To learn more about mind/body health, visit www.apa.org/helpcenter and follow on Twitter at @APAHelpCenter. To find out more about Indiana Psychological Association visit www.indianapsychology.org.

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