5 questions to help you rule out diabetes distress

Diabetes distress is not the same as depression. If you don’t know what to look for, you won’t know the steps to take to deal with this common emotional state.

Here is a simple definition and five simple questions to ask yourself.

Diabetes distress is when the emotional burden of living with diabetes starts to affect your daily life, including work, school, relationships, and diabetes management. Daily self-management feels like a relentless burden.

Do you feel:

  • overwhelmed by the demands of living with diabetes?
  • that you are ‘failing’ with your diabetes management?
  • worried about your risk of long-term complications?
  • frustrated that you can’t predict or ‘control’ diabetes from one day to the next?
  • guilty when your diabetes management gets ‘off track’?

If you answered yes to these questions, read on.

Severe diabetes distress affects one in four people with type 1 diabetes, one in five people with insulin-treated type 2 diabetes, and one in six people with non-insulin treated type 2 diabetes. You are not alone.

If diabetes distress is not managed, it can get worse over time.

It may lead to ‘burnout’, which is when a person feels emotionally exhausted and overwhelmed by the demands of their diabetes and tries to cope by ignoring their condition.

No one with diabetes can ignore their condition. It’s important to check in on your management and your feelings regularly.

Here’s what you can do about diabetes distress:

  • Stop blaming yourself
  • Start being kinder to yourself
  • If you’re completely fed up, take a break. While you can’t completely ignore your diabetes, spend a little less time and energy on it for a week or two, if it’s safe to do so. Re-assess your goals. If you feel like you’re not achieving your goals, set one or two smaller goals that you will achieve. You might feel better with some wins.
  • Get connected. Talking with friends or family may help, or you may feel it’s easier to talk with others who understand what it’s like to live with diabetes. Join a support group or online community to access peer support.
  • Talk with your diabetes health professional and let them know how you’re feeling.

For more information click here to read the National Diabetes Services Scheme Diabetes Distress fact sheet.

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