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Emotional Adjustment and Diabetes

For all people, whether they have diabetes or not, healthy emotional adjustment is an important part of having a good quality of life. If you have diabetes, it is even more important. To have good diabetes control,you have to do many things every day � eat the right kinds of food at the right time, exercise properly, take the right amount of medication or insulin at the right time and check the blood glucose (sugar) at the right times. This is a lot! To manage it all, you�ll need a sense of emotional balance.

When do emotional adjustment problems happen?

Adjustment to diabetes can be a problem at any time. But there are certain times and situations in which you are most likely to develop adjustment problems. These include:

  1. When your diabetes is first diagnosed.

  2. When your diabetes treatment changes, especially if it becomes more complex.

  3. If you are treated badly by other people because of the diabetes or the diabetes treatments.

  4. Any time there is a major change in other parts of your life, like moving, getting married, having children, changing jobs, or retiring.

  5. If you get tired of doing all the things needed for good diabetes control.

  6. If you work hard at control and you don�t get the results you hoped for.

  7. If you find out that a diabetes complication has begun or has gotten worse.

  8. If you are diagnosed with some other chronic illness or disability.

What are some common emotional adjustment problems?

Adjustment problems are very individual. They can show up in as many ways as there are people with diabetes. However, there are several adjustment problems that show up often in people with diabetes. These include:

  1. Denial.

  2. Anxiety.

  3. Anger.

  4. Depression.

  5. Feeling guilty.

  6. Feeling overwhelmed.

  7. Eating disorders.

  8. Having problems relating to family members or other people close to you.

People with diabetes tend to have these problems more often than most other people. Scientists think the reasons are partly physical and partly emotional. On the physical side, having diabetes may make your brain and nervous system more prone to having problems. On the emotional side, having diabetes and knowing you have a long-term chronic disease can put you under a lot of emotional stress. And diabetes self-management, can some times be difficult, boring, and frustrating.

What can you do to help yourself adjust?

First, it�s important to admit to yourself that you do have a problem. This is the first step to taking positive action.

Next, it�s a good idea to think about how serious the problem is. If your emotional state is keeping you from taking good care of yourself, or if it�s making it hard for you to go about your usual daily life, then it�s a serious problem. Fortunately, most serious emotional problems can be treated effectively through counselling, medication, or both of these. It�s important that you get help from a mental health professional. It�s best if you can find one who is familiar with diabetes. Your doctor or diabetes educator should be able to help you find someonewho can give you the help you need.

If your problem is troubling, but not interfering with your diabetes care or daily life, you will probably get some relief by using self-help techniques. A few suggestions are:

  1. Talk with other people who have diabetes. If you don�t know anyone you can talk to, try joining a support group or an online discussion group.

  2. Use stress management techniques.

  3. Discuss with your doctor or diabetes educator how you can simplify your diabetes care, to give yourself a break.

  4. Make a mental list of all the things you enjoy that are not affected by having diabetes. Then be sure to include at least one of these things in your life every day.

  5. Read a book about adjusting to diabetes. These can give you many more ideas about things you can do to help yourself. A few good ones are:

Diabetes Burnout, by William Polonsky

Psyching Out Diabetes, by Richard Rubin

When Diabetes Hits Home, by Wendy Rapaport

Zen and the Art of Diabetes Maintenance, by Charles Creekmore

At times, emotional adjustment can be hard work. It might take some time and some real effort to find the emotional balance you need to live well with diabetes. For most people, taking the time and making the effort pays off. With healthy emotional adjustment to diabetes, you are well on your way to having a balanced, satisfying life.

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This information is provided for general medical education purposes only and is not meant to substitute for the independent medical judgment of a physician and/ or other health care providers relative to diagnostic and treatment options of a specific patient's medical condition. In no event will the Diabetes Association of Greater Cleveland be liable for any decision made or action taken in reliance upon the information provided within this website.

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