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How Your Mental Health Affects Your Diabetes

In case you didn’t know, October is mental health awareness month, a time to promote awareness of mental illness and the effect it has on our daily lives. For people with type 2 diabetes, paying attention to your mental health can go a long way in helping you manage your diabetes.

Depression and diabetes

Depression is one of the most common forms of mental illness to plague people with diabetes. Depression is more than having the blues. If you experience feelings of sadness lasting more than a few weeks that interfere with your normal ability to perform your everyday duties, you may be depressed. Other symptoms of depression may include one or more of the following:

  • loss of interest in things you once enjoyed,
  • too tired to perform activities of daily living, such as brushing your teeth or taking a shower. You may lack the energy to test your blood sugar, take your meds, or even prepare a sandwich.
  • difficulty sleeping (insomnia) or you may sleep too much (hypersomnia)
  • feelings of hopelessness, guilt or anxiety
  • aches and pains
  • feelings of irritability
  • thoughts of suicide or death

The mind-body connection

As you can see, dealing with depression and diabetes can be overwhelming. If left untreated, depression does not go away, it only gets worse and this makes it more difficult to cope with your diabetes. One affects the other; diabetes affects the way you deal with depression and depression affects the way you deal with diabetes. Someone said, where the mind goes the man follows. It’s called the mind-body connection.

Diabetes distress

If you have been suffering from diabetes for a long time, you may get tired of the hassle — the constant finger sticks, the doctor’s appointments, swallowing meds … this condition is called diabetes distress, and it can feel almost like depression. It can wear you down, but don’t give up. Your health is worth fighting for.

What you can do

If you suspect you are depressed, try the following:

  • speak to your doctor, your pastor, or a trusted friend
  • spend time with friends and/or family members. Do not isolate
  • pray, read scripture, and meditate
  • listen to relaxing music
  • join a support group for people with diabetes
  • ask your doctor to refer you to a mental health counselor who specializes in chronic health conditions

Depressive symptoms along with diabetes are serious and should be attended to without delay. Above all, you should not try to hide your feelings or pretend they don’t exist; they won’t get better if left untreated. Speak to your doctor, have him refer you to a mental health counselor, if necessary, and follow his recommendations. One of the easiest steps you can take is to join a support group for people with diabetes such as Type 2 Diabetics Network, and be on your way to managing this debilitating illness.

A diagnosis of type 2 diabetes can send your life into a tailspin. It can leave you feeling alone and overwhelmed, but it doesn’t have to. Join my type 2 diabetes network group and get the help and support you need.

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May Is Mental Health Awareness Month

This week we were stunned at the news that popular Country and Western singer Naomi Judd had died from a mental health illness. Reports state that Naomi had been suffering from treatment-resistant depression for a long time. Her death occurred on the first day of May, right at the start of Mental Health Awareness Month, a time set aside each year to raise awareness about mental health.

Some of you may be aware that there is a terrible stigma attached to mental health. In addition, people suffering from mental health illnesses do not always get the support they need. If you are suffering from depression, for example, you are told to “snap out of it,” if you have mood swings— as in bipolar illness — people say you are crazy. Worst of all, if you are schizophrenic, your family and friends may be afraid of you and may not want you near them. All these factors make it difficult for those who badly need treatment to not receive it.

This year, the National Alliance for Mental Health (NAMI) has coined the slogan “Together for Mental Health.” The goal of NAMI is to advocate for mental health and access to care for those who need it. Mental health is a serious issue facing our country and the world. Statistics show that 19.86% of adults in America — nearly 50 million —experience a mental health illness, with nearly 5% experiencing a severe mental health illness. The COVID pandemic has contributed to this in large measure.

People with diabetes are 2 to 3 times more likely to suffer from depression than people without diabetes, and only 25% – 50% of those ever get diagnosed and treated. Without treatment, depression worsens and can lead to suicidal feelings. This is why this Mental Health Awareness Month is so important. This is a time when you can take a good, hard look at yourself or someone near you who you think may need help and take that first step toward treatment.

Diabetes and mental health can form a vicious cycle. Untreated mental health issues can make diabetes worse, and problems with diabetes can make mental health issues worse. If you think your mental health is not up to par, or you have a substance abuse problem, don’t be shy; speak to your health care team. If you are embarrassed to do that, you can call the national hotline number at 1-800-662-HELP(4357). This service is free and confidential and will put you in touch with a local facility that can help you.

Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death for teens and young adults. Help get improved crisis response implemented in your communities by signing NAMI’s petition. #Together4MH

A diagnosis of type 2 diabetes can send your life into a tailspin. It can leave you feeling alone and overwhelmed, but it doesn’t have to. Join my type 2 diabetes network group and get the help and support you need.