There is a need to explore diabetes, especially type 2 diabetes, from every possible dimension. The reason: it is spreading like wildfire. In the past 3 decades the prevalence of type 2 diabetes has risen dramatically in countries of all income levels, the World Health Organisation(WHO) says. In India, more than 100 million people are diabetic, a recently published study by the Madras Diabetes Research Foundation and Indian Council of Medical Research has found.
The onset of diabetes among the younger population is another reason why we should not leave any dimension of human health unexplored when the discussion is about diabetes.
“Diabetes, a chronic metabolic disorder characterized by high
levels, can indeed impact behavior and mental well-being. Fluctuations in blood sugar levels, a hallmark of diabetes, can lead to a range of behavioral changes,” says Dr.Arun C Singh, Director- Endocrinology & Diabetology, Metro Hospital Faridabad.
According to Dr. Rajiv Dang, Medical Director & HOD – Internal Medicine, Max Hospital Gurgaon, “behavioral changes in diabetes can happen because of the stress of the disease where the patient understands that he or she will have to take tablets, injections, etc. for life long. It is a stress for many because a lot of restrictions are put on a diet and some stress is given on exercise.”
Adhering to a medication regimen can be challenging for some individuals with diabetes. Behavioral changes may occur when people struggle with remembering to take their medications or experience side effects that affect their daily activities.
“Managing diabetes can be stressful, leading to behavioral changes such as increased stress, anxiety, and frustration,” Dr. Singh agrees.
“Unstable blood sugar levels can trigger mood swings. When blood sugar is too low (hypoglycemia), individuals may experience irritability, anxiety, or even aggression. Conversely, high blood sugar (
) can lead to lethargy, depression, and emotional instability,” explains Dr. Singh.
Lack of sleep, diabetes-related complications like neuropathy, or frequent urination can disrupt sleep, causing irritability and mood changes, he adds.
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Addressing diabetes burnout
The constant demands of managing diabetes, along with the fear of complications, can lead to a condition known as “diabetes burnout,” where individuals become overwhelmed and fatigued by the responsibilities of self-care. This can result in changes in behavior and a decreased commitment to managing the condition.
“Behavioral changes in diabetes underscore the importance of holistic care, addressing both physical and emotional aspects of the condition to improve overall well-being,” the expert says.
Here’s how you can manage diabetes burnout
Diabetes burnout can take a toll on your mental health. Consider talking to a therapist or counselor who specializes in diabetes-related issues. They can help you develop coping strategies and provide emotional support. Connecting with others who have diabetes can also be incredibly helpful. Joining a diabetes support group, either in person or online, can provide a sense of community and allow you to share experiences and strategies with others who understand what you’re going through.
Sometimes, burnout happens when you set overly ambitious goals for managing your diabetes. Do not set unrealistic goals for yourself. Do not attempt to cure diabetes overnight. Also, it’s okay to take breaks from diabetes management occasionally, as long as it’s done responsibly. Diabetes management can be challenging, and setbacks are a part of the journey. Instead of being overly critical of yourself, practice self-compassion and remind yourself that you’re doing your best.
Understand that diabetes management is not about perfection. It’s about progress and making healthier choices. Focus on self-care practices like regular exercise, a balanced diet, sufficient sleep, and stress reduction techniques (e.g., meditation or yoga). These can help improve your physical and emotional well-being.
Consider using diabetes management apps, continuous glucose monitors, or insulin pumps if they’re appropriate for your situation. These tools can help automate some aspects of diabetes care and make it less burdensome. Stay informed about the latest developments in diabetes management, including new technologies, medications, and treatment strategies.
Always reach out to healthcare professionals to discuss your situation and get guidance on managing your diabetes.