I struggled to accept my diagnosis at first. But after seeking therapy with a mental health professional, I’ve been able to shift my outlook and learn to live a full and happy life despite my diabetes.
There’s no doubt that a diabetes diagnosis can be life-altering. It’s common to feel a wide range of emotions after your diagnosis. You may feel overwhelmed, scared, burned out, or a combination of all three.
I remember when I first learned I had diabetes. The news completely shocked me. I was convinced, in my mind, that my diagnosis had ruined my plans for the future. It meant making difficult lifestyle adjustments by taking on additional responsibilities and learning new skills.
My diabetes diagnosis weighed heavily on me for years. Having to manage diabetes daily left me overwhelmed and scared of potential complications that would result in eventually needing insulin. As a result, I found myself in an extremely vulnerable position where I was desperately searching for a solution that would enable me to be in remission as quickly as possible.
I joined diabetes support groups on social media hoping that they’d help. The groups initially helped me manage my condition effectively with a strict low carbohydrate diet. But I struggled to accept that diabetes was a part of my life going forward.
Last year, I decided that I couldn’t go another day feeling defeated and depleted on my diabetes journey. My life was chaotic. I was exhausted every day, I had an unhealthy relationship with food, and I was experiencing symptoms of depression. So, I made the decision to seek help from a mental health professional.
Diabetes affects both mental and physical health. You may find mental health therapy to be an effective tool to cope with and manage your type 2 diabetes while reducing your risk of complications that may arise from it. Therapy is not only beneficial on an emotional level, but it can also provide benefits on a physical and cognitive level.
Here are four key benefits of seeing a mental health professional that can help people with type 2 diabetes.
In one large review, researchers found that 36% of people with type 2 diabetes experience diabetes distress, which is emotional distress specifically related to living with a chronic condition like diabetes. Depression is also common in people with type 2 diabetes. These mental health challenges can lead to poor medication adherence and reduced self-care.
Diabetes requires a lot of self-management, such as taking your medications as needed, keeping track of your blood sugar levels, and eating a balanced diet. Through therapy, you can develop and maintain healthy behaviors. Ultimately, this can enhance self-care and self-esteem.
Mental health professionals can help people with type 2 diabetes proactively manage and reduce complications by guiding them to healthier lifestyles.
Making lifestyle changes can reduce the number of symptoms and complications associated with diabetes. Therapy can help you set up healthier lifestyle habits, such as eating a balanced diet, getting enough exercise, and taking medications as prescribed.
Through therapy, people with type 2 diabetes can better understand and accept their condition.
When diagnosed, it’s common to feel overwhelmed and like you’re on your own. Having a mental health professional on your side can help you cope with your diabetes diagnosis and all the changes that come with it.
Therapy can help you cope with anxious thoughts, and these feelings are all discussed in a safe, nonjudgmental space.
Diabetes can feel like a lifetime of stress. On top of managing life’s everyday stressors, diabetes management can be stressful on its own. And stress can negatively affect blood sugar.
You can get help in managing your anxiety and stress from a mental health professional. They can teach you relaxation techniques or other stress-reduction methods, such as meditation or breathing exercises. These can help you maintain your blood sugar levels and lead to an overall better quality of life.
Consider asking the doctor who manages your condition to help you find a mental health professional such as a therapist or psychiatrist.
You can also find help online:
Since I started therapy a year ago, my outlook on life has changed for the better. Therapy has helped me face diabetes fears. Diabetes is no longer a source of guilt for me because I understand I did nothing to cause it.
I’ve learned that everyone manages diabetes differently and that it’s up to me and my healthcare team to create a treatment plan that works for me and my body. Furthermore, I’ve learned that using oral medications and insulin isn’t a sign of failure, but rather a way to improve my health.
I improved my eating habits, resulting in a healthy weight. My energy levels have increased and I still have the ability to create memories with my family and give back to my community. I’ve learned to live a full and happy life despite having diabetes.
Whether you’re newly diagnosed with diabetes or have managed it for quite some time, if you’re experiencing difficulty managing your mental or physical health, don’t delay. Consider seeking help.
Consult your diabetes care team about getting a referral to a mental health professional. Support, validation, and encouragement can make a major difference in how you manage diabetes.
Medically reviewed on May 11, 2023
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