SOCIAL EFFECTS OF DIABETES
Category : How Diabetes Affects Mental Health
Trying to follow a diabetic diet can be trying in social situations. Family or friends may appear offended by the person who will not eat a piece of homemade pie or other dessert. It can be difficult to avoid overindulging in the presence of people who eat large quantities of food.
People with diabetes may have to refrain from some group activities due to the need to monitor or maintain their blood sugar, leading to stigmatization or group isolation.
Sports are an important part of many people’s lives. Teamwork, camaraderie, and physical activity are vital parts of a well-rounded life. Diabetes doesn’t have to alter that. Exercise is essential in diabetes management, and participation in sports can provide this and other benefits. But it does require some extra effort by the diabetic.
One important component is tracking the effect of exercise on glucose levels, reacting to changes with Insulin or food. The varying lengths and intensity of games and practices will need to be accommodated.
Another important factor is incorporating the team concept. The coach should be educated and prepared, and alert to the diabetics needs.
It’s a good idea to set up an advance meeting, rather than try to discuss all the factors at the first practice.
Letting the player’s teammates know about the diabetes and the player’s needs is a good idea, too.
Nylon bracelets that say “Type 1 diabetes” are available when playing sports.
On the Job
When a person with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes enters the work force, they could have had their condition for some time and understand their requirements. There are no concrete steps to follow when meshing work and diabetes, because each person’s situation is different.
In certain jobs, it may not ever be necessary for the employer or coworkers to know you have diabetes. In other situations, reasonable accommodation may have to be requested .
Here are some factors to consider:
Is the job flexible so you can monitor glucose, eat snacks, and/or take insulin? If the specifics of the job or work environment don’t automatically accommodate these needs, talk to your employer about adjusting the requirements of your position or schedule.
Does the job require the employee to do activities that could be dangerous in the occasion of hypoglycemia?· Do certain requirements of the job, such as rotating to a midnight shift, cause disruptions of sleep cycles and meal times to the extent that glucose levels become difficult to manage? In such a case, a doctor’s letter may help you get the employer to accommodate this.
The diabetic’s planning skills will come in handy as they embark on any new job venture.
Family Impact Due to Diabetes
Family dynamics may change due to jealousy over one family member dominating the attention of the others. The person with diabetes may have special foods prepared for him or her or be allowed to avoid family chores, causing animosity.
A parent with diabetes may require help from her children, upsetting the established family roles.
At times, the entire family’s schedule may be changed by a diabetic’s inability to attend or participate in a traditional family function.
If the person diagnosed with diabetes refuses to care for him or herself properly, major power struggles may ensue as family members attempt to force him or her to stop engaging in unhealthy activities.
When a family member is diagnosed with diabetes, emotional stress impacts the whole family. Spouses may feel stressed as they assist with new meal planning and medication management. Children might feel anxious about changes in family routines including additional doctor visits, daily blood glucose monitoring and expanded exercise routines.
Families might find themselves faced with hospital stays, medication adjustments or more lifestyle changes in order to cope with health complications from diabetes.
Simple things such as going out, a visit to the zoo, a wedding, a vacation now become a little more complicated, leading to anger and resentment, and even more stress.
Families dealing with diabetes can suffer from communication challenges. Parents whose adult children have diabetes may feel compelled to provide regular reminders about eating, exercise and medications, causing the diabetic sufferer to feel scolded or nagged. Communication sometimes disintegrates as family members struggle to find new ways to communicate about the ongoing issue of living with diabetes.
The family member who prepares the meals may make significant changes to help the diabetic. Fried foods, greasy side dishes and sugary desserts may be replaced with baked foods, raw vegetables and fresh fruit, possibly causing dissent or confusion within the family. Servings may be smaller and snacks discouraged.
These changes may feel forced upon the family members who are not ill. However, most components of a diabetic diet are healthy for everyone, making the new meals plans a beneficial change for every family member. Open communication about how each person feels about mealtime changes can help everyone adjust.
In addition, where and how often you eat out will change, affecting those family members who love fast food places and eating out in general.
At any stage of life, knowing others who have been through the same experiences as you have, or that you are about to endure, can help you through.
Socializing with people who understand your needs and responsibilities can be relaxing and fun. And helping others get through things you’ve already mastered may be most rewarding of all.
Local and online support groups can make a major difference in how you handle your diabetes.
THE EMOTIONAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL EFFECTS OF DIABETES
For people with diabetes, managing their emotional health can be as important as keeping their blood sugar under control. The condition requires constant attention, and that can trigger feelings of stress and anxiety.
People who are experiencing the emotional burden of having diabetes feel drained mentally and physically on a daily basis; they are angry, scared, and/or depressed when they think about diabetes; and they feel that diabetes controls their lives.
They are also likely to express concern that they will end up with serious long-term complications and to feel overwhelmed by the demands of living with diabetes.
How does one know if a diabetic is suffering from stress or anxiety?
There are different situations. It might be someone who is not compliant with their self-care and isn’t checking their blood sugar regularly or taking their medications as prescribed. Their doctor notices this and sees their A1C [hemoglobin test] levels are up and there are problems.
It might be a patient who is severely depressed and openly talking about their level of sadness and that they’ve given up hope. Their diabetes is affecting them socially and putting a strain on their relationships or marriage.
Sometimes diabetics are good at hiding these feelings. It’s important that doctors ask questions and probe beyond how their medical care is going. A lot of patients are reluctant to talk about their feelings unless asked. When a doctor is willing to ask questions above and beyond whether or not they’re checking their blood sugar, the person is more willing to talk.
It can also create anxiety in that people worry about how they’re going to talk about their disease to other people, and whether or not they’ll understand what they have to go through.
They also worry about how diabetes will affect how long they live, they worry about complications, whether or not they’ll go blind, if they’ll need a limb amputated. It creates a lot of stress and worry. Even if their diabetes is under control, it’s that “what if” factor.
Diabetes also has a big effect on interpersonal relationships. People who have these depression or anxiety problems and have a chronic illness tend to withdraw from others and isolate themselves.
The problem is a lot of depressed diabetic patients put loved ones off.
Family members must not give up—the diabetic may not respond after the first or fifth time, but maybe after the twentieth time. They at least have to leave the door open.
How do you help someone diagnosed with diabetes cope with the pressures of constant self-care?
It’s a big struggle. People live their lives and have a certain way of living it and have certain habits and routines. Those things are very hard to break. When you get diagnosed with diabetes, you don’t have to totally break them. But now you have to fit in something else throughout the day every day for the rest of your life.
This involves checking your blood sugar, taking your medication, watching what you eat, doing some kind of physical activity, following up with your doctor.
Some people decide their diabetes care either doesn’t fit into their routine or it falls short on their priority list. Most people will list their job and their family and other things way above diabetes care on their priority list.
There needs to be more of a focus on mental health in caring for people with diabetes
When the emphasis is just on the physical – that my body isn’t performing the way that it should – that’s difficult for some people. It’s helping to change their thinking and have them realize that while they may not have control over the way their body uses insulin, they can at least control how they feel about it.
Everyday life, even without diabetes, is tough enough. When you add diabetes that requires so much of someone every single day, it creates an extra burden of stress. Sometimes people don’t feel like they have an avenue of escape. It’s important they have something they can find joy or comfort in.
Acceptance is often the last phase of psychological distress that is associated with diabetes. The diabetic will eventually come to terms with their disease.
They will realize that they have to make healthy lifestyle changes in order to lead a full and productive life.
Knowing that they can change the way they eat and take care of themselves will help them live longer and be less likely to encounter diabetes-related health problems.
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