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May 2019

People with diabetes ‘overwhelmed’ by their condition

New research from Diabetes UK has found that seven out of ten people feel overwhelmed by the demands of living with diabetes, which significantly affects their mental and physical health.

The survey of more than 2,000 adults with Type 1, Type 2 and other types of diabetes from across the UK shows that the majority (three quarters) of those who feel overwhelmed say that this affects how well they can manage the condition.

The findings, published in the report Too often missing: Making emotional and psychological support routine in diabetes care, show that diabetes is more than a physical condition.

Management of physical symptoms 24/7 – for instance by checking blood glucose levels, or managing diet – alongside the continual need to make decisions, and take actions, in order to reduce the likelihood of short and long-term complications, can affect every aspect of day-to-day life.

The research revealed that the relentless nature of diabetes can impact people’s emotional, mental and psychological wellbeing and health − from day-to-day frustration and low mood, to specific psychological and mental health difficulties such as clinical depression and anxiety.

Three quarters of those needing specialist mental health support could not access it. And 70% of people with diabetes also reported that they are not helped to talk about their emotional wellbeing by their diabetes teams.

Diabetes UK also surveyed GPs and found that 40% say they are not likely to ask about emotional wellbeing and mental health in routine diabetes appointments, while only 30 per cent feel there is enough emotional and psychological support for people with diabetes.

The charity is urgently calling on each of the four nations’ health services to create national standards for diabetes emotional and mental health services. These should ensure that everyone is asked how they are feeling as part of every diabetes appointment, and that a mental health professional with knowledge of diabetes is part of every diabetes care team.