Learning how to cope with diabetes is as important as the treatment for it. Many studies have shown that a person’s emotional state bears a direct impact on the physical well being of the individual. Certain attitudes towards the disease may lead to improper care or not seeking treatment at all.
Denial is one such problem, and is common when first diagnosed with diabetes and in fact most doctors consider it part of the process of diagnosis. The problem with denial is when it lingers and keeps the patient from learning and doing what they need to in order to stay healthy. If the patient believes that diabetes isn’t a serious matter they may not check their blood glucose regularly resulting in not taking the proper amounts of medication. They may ignore meal plans set up by the dietitian, eating the wrong types or amounts of food. The diabetic may think that since they feel good then there isn’t any reason to take their medication. Each of these can lead to serious health problems and the solution is in recognizing that this is a serious disease with the possibility of life threatening complications.
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Depression is another danger in people diagnosed with diabetes. While most people with diabetes do not have depression, they are at greater risk of developing it than those without diabetes. When facing the many complications such as nerve damage, retinal damage and heart problems they can become overwhelmed. Depression can cause diabetics to feel that they are a burden to those around them because of all the extra effort in their daily routine.
Loss of Pleasure, loss of energy and trouble concentrating are also all attributable to depression. Depression can lead to suicidal thoughts, thinking that “why bother” or “It’s going to kill me anyway” when in fact if treated properly they can lead a long and normal life. If a person is feeling depressed for an extended period of time it’s important that they don’t keep this to themselves but speak to their doctor about it. Improper blood sugar levels can bring on the same symptoms for depression and the doctor will be able to check for this.
Anger is also common with diabetics. Feeling that having diabetes is so unfair can make the person angry at the disease. Once again all the complications of the disease can make a person feel threatened and this can lead to anger. When feeling angry diabetics may refuse to take medications, thinking that doing so would make them lose to the disease. In doing this they may begin to feel worse and therefore become even angrier and thus begin a cycle that is hard to break. One way to break this cycle comes from Dr. Weisinger. Weisinger suggests doing three things. Figure out what’s causing the anger by keeping track of all the times they feel angry in a journal. They can then go back and look for any patterns. Change the thoughts, physical responses and actions that fuel the anger of the patient. Find ways to make the anger work for them. When they begin to feel angry they can think about their response to the situation and handle it in a different way.
Some diabetics may suffer from Generalized Anxiety Disorder or GAD. GAD can be brought on by excessive uncontrollable worry about everyday things. With the diabetic the focus is shifted to issues of health care, long term life plans and even the financial aspects of care. The more dramatic symptoms such as panic attacks are rarely present in this disorder and thus make it more difficult to diagnose. Sufferers feel as if on edge, are easily tired and have trouble sleeping. They may have increased sweating, muscle tension, jumpiness and even difficulty swallowing. Anyone with these symptoms should speak to their doctor as there are different medications that may be prescribed.
In conclusion, how a person copes with this disease can make all the difference in being able to lead a full and productive life. They will recognize the seriousness of the disease but not let that get them down. They will follow instructions given them by their care provider and look at it as not something limiting them, but something that will make it possible for them to enjoy life.
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